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Try This Back-Day Workout to Help Your Torso’s Most Important Muscles

Try This Back-Day Workout to Help Your Torso’s Most Important Muscles

Too many people are skipping Back Day at the gym.

A healthy torso has muscles that are developed symmetrically. Many people are unaware that their chest muscles are stronger than their back muscles, and that this is causing them problems in their movement, appearance, and the future wellness of their lower back.

This article provides an excellent workout for your back muscles and includes photos and descriptions of each exercise – plus, a video of the complete routine.

This workout is appropriate for both men and women. Additionally, each exercise can be modified to accommodate any level of fitness – from beginner to advanced.

If your torso has muscles that are more important than others, it would be your back muscles.

Back muscles are responsible for good posture and a tall spine.

Strong Back Muscles Are an Essential Ingredient of Good Health

Often, the slouch many people have today are a result of weak back muscles that become over-stretched in a specific shape from texting, computing, and driving.

Strangely, even though strong back muscles are an imperative component of good health, many people continue to train their chest muscles disproportionately.

Why?

Probably because that’s what they see first when they look in the mirror.

Also, it’s a bit simpler to train chest rather than back, simply because less equipment is needed to push (chest), rather than to pull (back). For example:

  • push-ups are a fundamental chest exercise, and beginners can always do push-ups on their knees.
  • however; the fundamental back exercise – the pull-up – requires a high bar from which to pull (plus, beginners have a hard time pulling their own bodyweight and so require specialized equipment – or at least an exercise rubber band attached to the high bar).

With a bit of creativity and an adventurous attitude, it’s possible to find fun ways to keep your back workouts interesting and effective.

Keep Your Torso Healthy and Attractive with this Circuit Routine for Your Back Muscles

The best exercise routine is the one you’ll actually do.

This circuit routine is designed not only to shape, define, and strengthen your back muscles, but also to burn a higher number of calories compared to a standard, vanilla weight-training workout.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Move through exercises in the circuit consecutively – without a break.
  • Once you’ve finished a circuit, take a brief rest before repeating the circuit two more times.
  • That rest period should be about 2 minutes – a bit less for advanced athletes, and a bit more for beginners.
  • Use a timer on your phone (or watch) to make certain you’re gauging time correctly (many of us tend to underestimate the amount of time we rest).
  • After completing a circuit 3 times, move on to the next new circuit.
 

Pin this article to look at again later:

Fit woman with trim and strong physique after training on back day.

First Back Circuit:

The first circuit utilizes exercises that will increase your abdominal awareness – because you’ll need your core muscles fully engaged later – in order to do challenging exercises safely.

This circuit gradually raises your body temperature and lubricates the muscles and joints. Basically, it gets the blood moving.

Additionally, if you’re over the age of 50, I encourage you to do 6-minutes of light cardio before starting this workout. A brisk walk or light jog – either outdoors or on the treadmill – should do the trick.

Mature athlete demonstrates suspended back exercise on the TRX apparatus.

Reach-Back Single-Arm Suspended Row

See the video above to see how a single-arm suspended row is properly executed.

You begin my rotating your spine and reaching one arm back to touch the ground. Then you pull/row the arm holding the TRX strap – as you rotate the spine and return yourself forward, reaching up.

Resist the temptation to hold your breath.

These posterior chain of muscle groups are the ones you target during your Back Day workout.
These are the key muscles you will improve from doing this Back Day workout.

You’ll feel your core muscles working – especially your obliques – as well as your rhomboids and lats (see the muscular anatomy chart, above).

Do 12 repetitions on each side.

A good Back Day workout utilizes a variety of grips (wide, narrow), positions (high, low), and tempos (slow, fast). You’ll notice this workout provides them all.

Dane Findley, age 54, demonstrates exercises to develop the posterior chain of muscles.

Leaning TRX Back-Day High Row

The TRX straps use your own bodyweight to provide the resistance. This makes it easy to make the exercise either harder (place your feet way forward in front of your torso) or easier (place your feet almost underneath your shoulders).


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  • Remember to drop your chin down a bit so you’re not over-arching your back or straining your neck muscles.

    This is a high row, so your elbows come to the center of your torso.

    You’ll be tempted to use your biceps to do most of the work, but try instead to initiate the movement from your lats and rhomboids.

    12 reps.

    An example of how to do the rear delt fly exercise and front arm raise on the TRX.

    Alternating: Suspended Rear Delt Fly and Overhead Front Arm Raise

    This is not a row, it’s a fly and a raise. That means the arms are almost straight but with a soft bend in the elbow.

    The posterior deltoids cannot handle as much resistance as the lats and rhomboids, so for this exercise you’ll want your feet almost underneath your shoulders.

    16 reps (8 for each exercise).

    Older, fit man does low lats row with resistance band on Back Day.

    Low Row with Resistance Band for Lats and Rhomboids

    This is a low row, so your elbows come below the center-line of your torso.

    14 reps.

    In the photo above, can you identify my lats, rhomboids, and erector spinae muscles? When those muscles become visible under the skin during a rowing exercise, it means you’re successfully engaging the back muscles to pull, instead of just using the biceps to do most of the work.

    Burpees with a Weighted Medicine Ball

    Do a burpee keeping your hands on a big, weighted medicine ball, then in the standing position do an overhead press.

    Beginners can do this exercise slowly. Advanced athletes can do it quickly.

    14 reps.

    Man exercises with weighted medicine ball to train his back muscles.

    Final Back Circuit:

    The posterior chain refers to those muscles on the back side of your body. This chain of muscles is often the missing link in many people’s training.

    Let’s face it: we sit too much.

    The exercises in this next circuit are programmed specifically to correct problems associated with the modern sedentary lifestyle, including postural weaknesses that hinder our ability to look and feel our best.

    Remember, by correcting muscular imbalances we’re also likely avoiding future chronic pain. Everything in the human body is connected – either directly or indirectly – to everything else in the body, and that means when imbalances are restored that hip, knee, or sciatica discomfort can be remedied as well.

    Silver-bearded man does horizontal bench dumbbell rows for back muscles.

    Horizontal Bench Dumbbell Rows

    A classic rowing exercise. When you lean into the horizontal bench, be sure to keep your glutes active and your pelvis pressing forward into the bench. This will help protect your lower back.

    12 reps.

    Older athlete improves posture by doing rear deltoid dumbbell fly exercise on back day.

    Arms-Close Rear Delt Dumbbell Flys for Upper Back

    Similar to the row you just did, only this time the arms are only slightly bent.

    You’ll probably want to do a bit less weight than you did on the rows so can concentrate on proper form and isolating those posterior deltoids (the rear delt muscles directly responsible for improving your posture).

    12 reps.

    Silver-haired athlete does dumbbell rows to engage his back muscles.

    Alternating: Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows, Parallel and Perpendicular

    • Remember to use your back muscles more than your arm muscles.
    • Keep the core engaged!
    • Hips should face down to the floor evenly.
    • Let your breath flow freely.
    Man over 50 trains lats, rhomboids, rear delts, and traps.

    Tip: if you’re having a hard time finding good back isolation, try changing your grip. Sometimes, wrapping all five fingers around the dumbbell bar can trick your body into using lats more than biceps.

    16 reps (8 per exercise).

    Resistance-Band PullOvers for the Back

    Resistance-band pullovers are an outstanding exercise, because the resistance increases as the movement approaches the point of peak contraction.

    16 reps.

    Rope Slams

    Slamming a battle rope is guaranteed to fill your lats with blood (“the pump”) and help give your torso that nice V-taper.

    16 reps.

    Four outdoor examples of Back Day exercises using resistance band, battle rope, and kettlebell.
    From left to right, top row of exercises are resistance-band pullovers and rope slams. Bottom row is tug-of-war and incline bench kettlebell pullovers.

    Battle Rope Tug-Of-War Variation for the Back

    Grab a workout buddy to help you on this one. You pull one end of the battle rope while your buddy provides a bit of resistance on the other end, gradually making his or her way toward you (it’s not an all-out tug of war – you should “win” in the end).

    Incline Dumbbell PullOver – Full Range of Motion

    Set a bench at a slight incline and, facing up to the sky, reach a dumbbell or kettlebell all the way back.

    Use the power of your lats to bring the weight back over your chest.

    This particular pullover is a full-range variation, meaning you bring the weight all the way down to your waist at the end of each rep. This provides a highly effective negative resistance (“eccentric training”) for your pectorals as well.

    Back Day Intelligence: Why Training Your Posterior Chain of Muscles is a Brilliant Idea

    The principles of Foundation Training are born form the fundamental idea that when we move outside of the natural patterns for which our bodies were intended, then forces of gravity are absorbed by the wrong parts of the body, leading to instability, poor aesthetics, and – eventually – pain.

    Mature male athlete does kettlebell pullover on an incline bench during Back Day.

    Don't Skip Back Day: How to Train Your Posterior Muscle Chain

    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Active Time: 50 minutes
    Total Time: 55 minutes

    Don't skip Back Day at the gym! A healthy torso has symmetrically developed muscles. It's imperative to train your posterior muscle chain. Improve your appearance and avoid postural problems with this complete back workout.

    Materials

    • Optional: weight-lifting gloves to protect your hands.

    Tools

    • Equipment options include weighted medicine ball, kettlebell, bench, towel, dumbbells, TRX straps, and resistance band.

    Instructions

    First Circuit:

    • Reach-Back Single-Arm Suspended Row

    • Leaning TRX Back-Day High Row

    • Alternating: Suspended Rear Delt Fly and Overhead Front Arm Raise

    • Low Row with Resistance Band for Lats and Rhomboids

    • Burpees with a Weighted Medicine Ball

    Final Circuit:

    • Horizontal Bench Dumbbell Rows

    • Arms-Close Rear Delt Dumbbell Flys

    • Alternating: Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows, Parallel and Perpendicular

    • Resistance-Band PullOvers

    • Rope Slams

    • Battle Rope Tug-Of-War Variation

    • Incline Dumbbell PullOver – Full Range of Motion

    Notes

    Here’s what you need to know:

    • Move through exercises in the circuit consecutively – without a break.
    • Once you’ve finished a circuit, take a brief rest before repeating the circuit two more times.
    • That rest period should be about 2 minutes – a bit less for advanced athletes, and a bit more for beginners.
    • Use a timer on your phone (or watch) to make certain you’re gauging time correctly (many of us tend to underestimate the amount of time we rest).
    • After completing a circuit 3 times, move on to the next new circuit.

    Exercises can be modified to match your unique fitness-level and circumstances. Ask your doctor first.

    Hopefully this Back Day workout will help strengthen and balance your body’s posterior chain of muscles so that they can support the weight of your body properly.

    The end result? That you look better and feel better!

    Give this workout a try and let me know how it went for you. Remember to consult with your own medical doctor before undergoing any significant changes in your movement patterns or lifestyle habits.

    Dane Findley age 54 helps others achieve stellar wellness and a healthier physique.
    Dane earned a masters degree in Counseling Depth Psychology from Pacific Graduate Institute. His past professional adventures include being a Therapist and Discharge Planner at a Dual-Diagnosis Hospital Inpatient Treatment Program, Digital Marketing Director for a real estate brokerage, and decades spent as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy-Lifestyle Advocate and he curates the popular Quality of Life Newsletter – a free weekly update for creative types who want to increase their daily joy. Currently, he’s facilitating the new online course “Silver and Strong: How to Get Fantastically Fit After Age 50,” which helps people learn to eat for lean strength. Click-through for details.

    Don’t skip Back Day at the gym! A healthy torso has symmetrically developed muscles. It’s imperative to train your posterior muscle chain, preferably once a week, but at least twice a month. Improve your appearance and avoid postural problems with this complete back workout.

    Dane Findley

    Dane Findley

    Happy people over the age of 50 are relevant – and essential to a well-functioning culture. I help others achieve robust health so that they can look and feel better than they ever have before – with lean muscle, supple joints, and a trim waistline.

    I believe the second half of your lifespan should be the best half.

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