I have really struggled with building up my strength in my back. My back has always been a weak point for me, and it took quite a lot of work to get my back to gain any significant amount of strength. Everyone’s body has different strengths, and mine does not happen to be my upper body! :) So, here are some exercises I tend to do in order to bring the strength to my upper body.I do these on a back and bicep day, so I don’t necessarily do these in any particular order, and usually not back to back (haha!) Though I DO always start with pull-ups since they are difficult and I want to attempt them with all of my strength.
I am still working on these! So currently I do primarily negatives. That’s where you jump up and hang on, then slowly lower yourself. The key is to be slow and controlled. This works on the second part of the movement and will help you build up strength to be able to lift yourself. I am better at a natural grip pull-up, which is where your arms are shoulder width apart and palms face each other. The link I have here, is for wide grip. I am working on these but am not very good at them!
Wide Grip Lat Pull-down
Make sure you do this with a controlled motion. This works your lats, and the wide grip really hones in on them. Keep your head and eyes up during the movement and focus on the muscle being worked.
Close Grip Lat Pull-down
I switch out the wide grip bar for a piece that is two close handles. Make sure you keep your eyes and head up looking at the cable machine, and your shoulders down.
Single Arm Lat Pull-down
This isolates each lat in the movement. I use about half the weight for these, and hook a single handle up to the cable. This is difficult, but hold the contraction portion of the movement when your arm is by your side. Try not to rest your hand on your side, and focus on the muscle being worked. Release back to the top slowly.
Seated Cable Rows
You can change up the handle that you use on this machine. I tend to switch it between a close grip (same piece I use on the close grip lat pull-down) and a wider piece. I find the close grip to be easier, so I can go heavier. But with focusing more on my lats lately, I have been using the wide grip piece. With this exercise, you want to make sure you keep good form, and really feel the stretch. I like to hold the contraction for a couple seconds before releasing to the stretch.
Seated Single-arm Cable Rows
I do these with one single handle. I start with one arm, and put the leg of that side on the floor to stabilize myself. I keep the opposite foot on the foot grip area. This movement is hard! So, I keep the weight at about half what I do for seated rows, and I try and hold for a second in the contraction before releasing to the stretch. For me, it’s hard to not rest my hand a bit on my side in the contraction, so I have to focus on not doing that! (It’s cheating if I do!)
Bent Over Rows
I do these with a EZ-curl barbell. I am currently using 50-60lbs. It’s best if you do this in front of a mirror so you can watch your form. Stand with soft knees (you don’t want to lock them!) and bend at the waist. Make sure you keep your head up and look at yourself in the mirror. Grab your barbell and lift it up towards your bellybutton. Hold it in this contraction for a few seconds and then slowly release it back down. Do not set it down in between each rep. Only between your sets. Make sure your movement back down in the release is slow and controlled.
I do these with a 25lb plate. Stand with your feet at the base of the equipment, hold the weight in your hands (if you’re using one) and bend down slow and controlled in movement. Pop up to the beginning position quickly and hold it for a second. Then repeat.
These are some of my favorite and common back exercises that I do frequently. Give them a try and let me know how you like them! :)