Our backs take a beating in today’s sedentary culture. We spend much of our time seated at desks, behind steering wheels, and wedged into airline seats. No wonder most of us complain about back pain at some point in our lives.

That’s why an effective back workout not only develops the muscles that give us a broad, V-shaped back, but also counteracts the effects of sitting. This way we improve our so-called pillar strength, which gives us stability throughout the hips, midsection, and shoulders—the broad area covered by the back, in other words. If we don’t do that first, we’re setting ourselves up for back pain.

The solution? We can strengthen and stabilize our backs with the same effective workout. Along the way, we’ll build the pillar strength that serves as our internal equivalent of those bulky leather belts guys wore in the gym in the 1980s (you know the type), or the belts Home Depot workers still don today when they load vehicles.

How it works

To build a bigger, stronger, more stable back, this workout will challenge you with a rapid-fire barrage of moves. Instead of simply hammering the back muscles over and over with rest breaks in between, this workout will alternate pushing and pulling exercises—but with no rest. By alternating between a push and a pull, you can move continuously between movements with no rest.


  • Do 10 reps of each exercise in one circuit. Do not rest between exercises.
  • Do three circuits total. You may take a one-minute water break between circuits.