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10 Best Barbell Exercises for Strengthening Your Back

Looking to increase strength, mass, and overall spinal health? Check out these 10 barbell back exercises to help you get the results you want safely, with tips and tricks.

Mark Robertson
10 Best Barbell Exercises for Strengthening Your Back
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Strength and mass are two crucial components of an impressive physique. Fortunately, numerous exercises can help you achieve both, and barbell back exercises are some of the most effective ones.

A strong and muscular back not only looks impressive but also supports and stabilizes other exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. You can increase your overall strength, size, and symmetry by including barbell back exercises in your workout routine.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced lifter, incorporating barbell back workout routines can help you achieve your fitness goals faster and more efficiently. In this article, we will showcase the top 10 barbell back exercises that can help you build a strong and muscular upper body.

Back Muscles: Anatomy of Upper, Middle & Lower Back

Back Muscles: Anatomy of upper, Middle and Lower Back

These top Barbell back exercises strengthen the back and increase its strength. But first, you must understand the anatomy and function of the back muscles.

Your back consists of a series of muscles responsible for all of your body's pulling and maintaining the stability of your spine.

The back is composed of stacked layers of muscle, similar to a sandwich. The back muscles are divided into three categories.

Trapezius: The trapezius is a large, triangular-shaped muscle found in the upper back.

Latissimus Dorsi: The middle back is composed of the latissimus dorsi muscle.

Erector Spinae: The erector spinae muscles comprise the lower back. The muscles are found deep within the back and allow the spine to extend and laterally flex. Benefits of Barbell Back Exercises.

Barbell back exercises are an essential component of any strength-training program. Not only do they target multiple muscle groups, but they can also help increase overall muscle endurance and mass. Let us delve into the top five benefits of performing barbell back exercises for strength and mass.

Target Major Muscle Groups

Barbell back exercises are crucial in targeting major muscle groups such as the trapezius, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi. These muscles are vital for maintaining good posture and overall upper body strength.

Improve Strength

By performing barbell back exercises, you can improve your overall strength. The compound nature of these movements allows a more significant load to be lifted, thereby increasing your overall strength.

Enhance Muscle Mass

Barbell back exercises are also excellent for enhancing muscle mass. They allow for the activation of multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to greater overall muscle growth.

Improve Posture

As mentioned earlier, barbell back exercises target the major muscle groups responsible for maintaining good posture. Regularly performing these exercises can improve your posture and minimize the risk of developing muscular imbalances.

Increase Muscle Endurance

Finally, barbell back exercises can help increase your overall muscle endurance. These movements require high stamina and force you to push through fatigue, leading to greater overall endurance.

10 Best Barbell Back Exercises

Below, we have listed the ten best compound barbell back exercises you can incorporate into your routine to build muscle, increase strength, and add variety to your workouts.

We have separated the barbell exercises into the following categories:

  • Trap Exercises
  • Upper and Middle Back Training
  • Lower Back Workouts

Trap Workout With Barbell

Incorporate these barbell trap exercises into your routine to target and strengthen your trapezius muscles, promoting better posture and overall upper body strength.

1. Barbell Shrug

1. Barbell Shrug

How to Do It:

  • Maintain a stable core while standing with feet placed shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Grip the barbell using a pronated grip, with your palms facing down.
  • Raise your shoulders as much as possible without bending your elbows, bringing them closer to your ears.
  • Hold the contraction and squeeze for a brief moment, then return the weight to the starting position in a controlled and stable manner.

2. Barbell Upright Row

2. Barbell Upright Row

The Upright Row is an excellent exercise for creating deltopectoral separation and building massive trapezius muscles. The shrug and the upright row are both excellent exercises for developing massive traps.

The trapezius (traps), a large muscle in the upper back that helps you shrug your shoulders, the rhomboids, and even the biceps are challenged by the barbell upright row exercise, making it an excellent addition to a back workout.

How to Do It:

  • Hold a bar with a narrow overhand grip and suspend it before you.
  • Lift the bar and bring it as close to your chin as possible, using your arms and shoulder elevation to contract your trapezius muscles.
  • Now lower the bar in a controlled manner until it returns to its initial position.
  • Repeat as many times as required.

Upper and Middle Back Workout With Barbell

Strengthen your upper and middle back muscles with these effective barbell exercises.

3. Bent-Over Barbell Row

3. Bent-Over Barbell Row

If you want to strengthen the upper back and add massive muscle mass to the upper back, the best barbell upper back exercise is bent-over barbell rows.

The central inner section of the lats is targeted by placing your hands shoulder-width apart or closer, whereas a wider grip targets the outer back muscles.

A narrow grip keeps the elbows close to the body, making it more difficult to extend and pull the shoulders away from the body. This causes the lat muscles to work harder, thereby strengthening them.

The wide grip promoted by the flared elbows reduces lat involvement, allowing you to focus on the rhomboids, traps, and rear delts.

How to Do It:

  • With a narrow stance, grasp a bar using an overhand grip.
  • Allow the bar to hang in front of you while bending your knees at a 45-degree angle to the floor and bending your torso forward.
  • As a result, use your back to raise the bar until it touches your abdomen instead of your chest, as this reduces back muscle contraction.
  • Control the lowering of the bar to the starting position.

4. The Landmine Row

4. The Landmine Row

The classic landmine exercise is the Landmine row. It will do an outstanding job targeting your lats, traps, posterior shoulders, and rhomboids. This is one of the best exercises for pure back growth.

T-bar rows are challenging, but building a strong back is essential for developing a quality physique, avoiding injury, and avoiding back pain for life.

How to Do It:

  • With the barbell loaded, use a wide stance over the bar. Assume a supine position with a straight spine and a raised chest.
  • Keep your back arched and your hips bent throughout the movement.
  • Raise the bar until it touches your chest while maintaining a straight back.
  • Now, gradually lower the bar until it is almost on the ground.

5. Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

5. Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

The standing barbell rear delts row is a free-weight exercise that targets the rear deltoid and middle back, as well as the biceps, shoulders, and traps to a lesser extent.

If you have never performed this exercise before, load the barbell with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form rather than lifting heavy.

How to Do It:

  • Holding a barbell with a wide (greater than shoulder-width) and overhand (palms facing the body) grip, maintain an upright stance.
  • With knees slightly bent, bend at the waist until the chest is parallel to the floor.
  • Pull the barbell towards the upper chest while squeezing the rear deltoids, keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso.
  • Return slowly to the starting position as you inhale. Perform the specified number of repetitions.

6. Barbell Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

6. Barbell Chest Supported Rear Belt Row

A barbell row with chest support is an effective variation. As the name suggests, this is a row that supports the chest.

By leaning your upper torso against a bench, you eliminate the need for your back to stabilize the movement. These barbell back exercises will help you develop strength in your middle back.

How to Do It:

  • Lie face-down on an inclined bench while holding a barbell in your extended hand.
  • Pull the barbell up slowly until your elbows are slightly above your shoulders.
  • Hold the final position for a count and contract your muscles.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions and sets.

7. Landmine Single Arm Bent Over Row

7. Landmine Single Arm Bent Over Row

The Landmine Single Arm Bent Over Row is one of the best upper back exercises for strengthening the back and adding mass to the upper back region.

The one-arm bent-over row strengthens the rear deltoids, rhomboids, middle traps, lats, and biceps.

This is an excellent exercise for increasing the size of your upper back without increasing the size of your lower back.

How to Do It:

  • Position yourself parallel to the bar with the barbell's end at your left side.
  • Your feet should be wider than your hips. Bring your hip back (hinge), bend your knees slightly, and lean your torso forward to assume a squat position. Your back should be erect.
  • Grab the barbell's collar with an overhand grip. Bring your elbow as high as you can during a row. Your elbow should be fully extended.
  • Feel the tension in your rear shoulders and upper back as you squeeze at the peak. Repeat by slowly lowering the bar to full elbow extension.

Barbell Lower Back Workout

These movements involve performing exercises that specifically target the muscles in the lower back using a barbell. So let's get started and say goodbye to lower back pain by strengthening your muscles.

8. Deadlift

8. Deadlift

The deadlift is the king of the exercises. This strength exercise is designed to build a complete physique utilizing the most muscles.

The deadlift is the best exercise for strengthening posterior chain muscles. It exercises the lower and upper back, arms, legs, and buttocks.

How to Do it:

  • Place a barbell containing weights at the front. Grab the barbell with one hand using an underhand grip and the other using an overhand grip. Remember to maintain a straight back and to contract your back and hamstrings.
  • Using your hamstrings and glutes, raise the bar from the ground. You should maintain a slight bend in your knees, a straight back, and an upward gaze.
  • Raise it until your body is standing erect. As the weight shifts to the lumbar spine, avoid hyperextending your body. Hold the bar at the top of the lift momentarily and remember to lockouts.
  • Now slowly lower the bar by bending at the hips and then the knees and allowing the weight to briefly touch the ground before beginning the next repetition.

9. Landmine Deadlift

9. Landmine Deadlift

It recruits the greatest number of muscle motor units compared to any other exercise. This exercise can be performed with either a dumbbell or a barbell.

You can lift extremely heavy weights with a Landmine deadlift, but you must do so with caution and proper form.

How to Do It:

  • Stand in front of the barbell landmine with your feet about hip-width apart. Remember to maintain a straight back and to contract your back and hamstrings.
  • Using your hamstrings and glutes, raise the bar from the ground. You should maintain a slight bend in your knees, a straight back, and an upward gaze.
  • Raise it until your body is standing erect. As the weight shifts to the lumbar spine, avoid hyperextending your body. Finish the elevator, and do not stop halfway through.

10. Barbell Good Morning

How to do: Barbell Good Mornings - Step 10

The term "good morning" is derived from the movement of the erector spinae, which resembles rising from bed to stretch. Like any other muscle, the erectors grow best when contracted and lengthened.

The erector spinae muscles of the lower back engage in isometric contractions to maintain the spine in an extended position. In contrast, the hamstrings and gluteus maximus engage in isotonic contractions to perform hip extension.

  • Maintain a barbell on the back of the shoulders, and grasp the stick on each side while standing. You can also perform the exercise with body weight.
  • Keeping your knees flexed and your back and neck neutral, inhale while flexing your hips to lower your torso until it is nearly or completely horizontal.
  • Exhale as you extend your hips to return your torso to the starting position.

Barbell Back Workout Samples

Workout # 1

Exercises

Sets

Reps

Barbell Shrugs

4

10-15

Bent over barbell rows

4

10-15

Good Morning Exercise

3

15-10

Workout # 2

Exercises

Sets

Reps

Barbell Upright Row

4

8-12

Landmine Row

3

10-15

Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

3

8-12

Landmine Deadlift

3

8-10

Workout # 3

Exercises

Sets

Reps

Barbell Shrug

4

6-8

Barbell Chest Supported Rear Delt Row

4

8-10

Landmine Single Arm Bent

3

10-12

Deadlift

3

8-10

Conclusion

Barbell back exercises are a must-add to your training routine if you are looking to gain strength and mass. The benefits of these exercises go beyond just the physical appearance of a well-defined back. They also promote overall spinal health, posture, and stabilization. When done correctly, barbell back exercises can help to prevent injuries, improve athletic performance and support the functionality of everyday activities.

These 10 exercises outlined in this article are an excellent starting point for your fitness journey. Remember to start with lower weights and gradually work your way up to heavier ones, keeping safety at the forefront of your mind. With dedication and determination, you can master barbell back exercises and achieve impressive results in no time.

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Mark Robertson

Mr. Robertson is a competent writer, and speaker who specializes in helping families transition to plant-based lifestyles. He believes awareness, evidence-based information, and humor are three key ingredients for leading a healthy life.

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