Back Training at Home
Louis Degnan, EP
Whether your goals are to have 6-pack abs, a barrel chest, or toned glutes, the back muscles take a back seat to the “show” muscles. Neglecting back training over time can put one at various risks for injury. For example, an underdeveloped middle and upper back can lead to poor posture, especially when combined with all of the sitting and slouching we do which tightens our anterior muscles. This effect can double when the majority of our workouts involve the chest, core, and biceps.
Training the back is easier said than done, especially when working out from home or on the go. Not everyone has access to a pull up bar, seated cable row, or a reverse fly machine outside of a gym. In this blog, we’ll provide some examples of back exercises you can incorporate into your home workout routines to round out your complete exercise routine.
- Bent Over Row
For those who’ve been following our platforms, you’ll know that the Bent Over Row is my favorite exercise. Not only is it a compound exercise for your middle and upper back, it also requires strength and stability from your hips, glutes and core to perform correctly.
Ideally, you want to hinge your hips to as close to 90 degrees as possible. This allows for a horizontal line of pull and a direct involvement of your rhomboids and traps. If this position starts to hurt your low back, you can bring the hip hinge up to no more than 45 degrees. This will allow for some lat recruitment as well. For increased bicep activation, perform with your palms turned up.
- Lat Pullovers
When we typically train the lats, we think of exercises like the cable lat pull down or a traditional pull up. As a single part of a universal cable set up, a lat pull down machine could be very expensive to have in the home. While many door mounted pull up bars exist on the market, a pull up requires the strength of your body weight to perform just one rep. The dumbbell lat pullover is a great way to target the lats at home and all you need is a dumbbell!
You can perform this on a bench (pictured) for additional range of motion but supine on the floor is fine. Make sure you maintain a flat low back and abdominal brace when performing the movement. You can involve the chest by pulling the weight slightly past the sternum.
- Dumbbell Reverse Fly
The posterior deltoid is technically a shoulder muscle, but I’ve included an exercise for it in this blog as the muscle tends to serve as a secondary mover to most back exercises. Therefore, training the posterior deltoids is integral to increasing back strength and size.
A Chest fly/Reverse fly machine that you would typically see in a commercial gym helps to truly isolate the muscle. However, targeting this small but important muscle can be achieved with a variation to the bent over row.
Begin in the same hip-hinged position, but pull the weight straight out to your side. Maintain a slight bend at the elbow to limit joint pain. It’s important to be honest with the amount of weight you lift with this exercise. Too much can cause unnecessary and rapid low back flexion and extension as you become more dependent on momentum to lift the weight.