Try this progressive one-month program for building a solid back and a beautiful shape.

Building a strong back protects your spine, prevents back pain, supports your core during sports and daily activities and helps improve your posture. Train it right, and you’ll get the bonus benefit of a beautifully tapered v-shape. But achieving these results requires the proper training program. Although this is one of the largest muscle groups in your body, you don’t have to perform a dozen exercises or spend hours in the gym to fully work it. This routine hits all the areas of the back—latissimus dorsi, trapezius, deltoids and lower back—from every angle, with just five exercises and zero machines.


Follow this routine for four weeks. Weeks 1 and 3 will focus on strength. Weeks 2 and 4 will focus on building muscle mass. During weeks 1 and 3 will include a dropset during the last set of each exercise. This means you will perform the exercise to failure, then drop the weight and immediately continue to do reps to failure, drop the weight again and repeat.

Target muscles: latissimus dorsi

Set Up: If you need assistance with this move, attach a resistance band to a pull-up bar. Bend one knee and place it in the loop of the band. Grasp the bar with a wide, overhand grip and hang with arms extended, keeping your shoulder blades back and down.
Action: Squeeze your back muscles and bend your arms, pulling your chest towards the bar. Pause at the top, then slowly lower down with control.


Target muscles: latissimus dorsi

Set Up: Hold a weighted barbell with a wide, overhand grip. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from your hips, bringing your torso forward until it is almost parallel to the floor. Extend your arms so they are perpendicular to the floor.
Action: Brace your abs and initiate the movement by retracting your shoulder blades. Focus on using your back muscles to pull the barbell towards your abdomen, keeping your arms tight to your sides.


Target muscles: latissimus dorsi

Set Up: Lie on a flat bench holding a weighted barbell above your chest with arms slightly bent, using an overhand grip.
Action: Lower the bar in an arc motion behind your head until your upper arms are parallel with the ground. Hold, then slowly return to the starting position.


Target muscles: middle and lower trapezius

Set Up: Stand beside a flat bench with a dumbbell in one hand and place the opposite knee and palm of your hand on the bench. Lower the dumbbell towards the floor until arm is extended and shoulders are square.
Action: Bend your arm and pull the dumbbell up toward your ribcage, squeezing your back at the top of the movement. Hold, then lower back to the start.


Target muscles: lower back

Set Up: Lie facedown on a mat on the floor and place your palms behind your head.
Action: Contract your lower back muscles to lift your torso, keeping your legs pressed into the floor. Hold, then slowly lower back down.


Workout by Nichelle Laus, Certified Personal Trainer & Coach

STRONG Fitness Mag
STRONG Fitness Magazine is a trusted source of cutting-edge fitness and health information for the modern woman who lives to be fit. STRONG’s sophisticated editorial voice combined with raw, powerful imagery and a modern, athletic design reflect the direction fitness has taken in the last decade.