Back training seems straightforward enough, right? Grab some weight, row it, and you’re done.

But, the truth is, many people seem to struggle with good back training and often find themselves making little progress.

Your back is one of the largest and most complicated muscle groups to train effectively and develop. To help you set yourself on the right path, we’ve put together this guide for you.

Below, you’ll learn back anatomy, a simple tweak that makes each repetition much more effective, and four tips to improve your back training.

Let’s dive in.

Back Musculature Anatomy And Functions

The back is one of the most complex muscle groups to understand and train effectively. Several muscles work together to produce a variety of movements, and the four primary ones are:

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Erector spinae
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids

When talking about the upper back, this includes the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and rhomboids. The lower back? This includes the erector spinae.

It’s important to note that your back is far more complicated and includes many other smaller muscles. For the sake of simplicity, we are only sharing the major players because these are the muscles you need to focus on.

Together, the many back muscles work to keep you upright and stable, assist in rowing motions (like barbell rows and pull-ups), and keep your shoulders stable and healthy. Your lats, in particular, help with side bending movements of your torso. 

These muscles are also heavily involved in many activities like throwing, deadlifting, using your pushing muscles, remaining upright while carrying a heavy load, and more.

How to Make The Most Of Your Back Training 

The drawback of your back musculature is its complexity. The advantage? Complexity. Allow me to elaborate:

Due to its complexity, your back is involved in more activities than you can imagine. Virtually all upper body activities involve your back to some degree, which means that you can always cause a degree of stimulus to these muscles and grow them. It offers a passive role in many upper body movements, and it is actively involved in dozens of activities.

But, optimal development is a bit trickier, and this largely applies to rowing and pulling. You see, many people struggle to develop their back musculature because they have trouble engaging the correct muscles while training.

When most beginners start training, they typically struggle to activate the back and instead train their biceps more. This is because creating a mind-muscle connection with an area you don’t see is challenging. Sure, you can row, and pull, and deadlift regularly. But you’ll always struggle to develop the right muscles if you don’t activate them well.

And this is where a minor tweak can help tremendously:

See your hands as mere hooks for the weight. Yes, that’s it. The next time you pick a weight for your back training, consciously imagine that your hands are mere hooks for the weight and nothing more. This will help you learn how to pull through your elbows, which will instantly improve back engagement. You’ll be able to feel your lats work a lot more and your biceps much less. 

Four Actionable Tips to Elevate Your Back Growth

  1. Use Full Range of Motion

Back training is particularly susceptible to poor technique because little separates good repetitions from ego lifting. With a tiny bit of eagerness, you can easily add a bit more weight than you should and find yourself doing half the range of motion.

But, as with most muscles in your body, doing each repetition with a full range of motion allows you to produce solid contractions and stretches that matter a lot more than doing barbell rows with 15 pounds more. The goal of weight training is to stimulate the correct muscles, not show off in front of other people. Plus, if you train correctly, your strength will improve, and people will be impressed by your abilities.

  1. Use Different Movements In Different Planes of Motion

As we discussed above, the back is a complex combination of different muscle groups that work together in various movements. Exercises like the pull-up do a great job of training the back as a single unit, but we need greater variety for optimal growth.

Specifically, the back benefits from different movements (rowing, pulling, hip hinge, and pullovers) in unique planes (horizontally and vertically).

Nothing is to say that you need at least five unique movements for your back at all times. This simply suggests that you should add variety to your training. For example: 

Exercise 1: Deadlifts (a hip hinge)

Exercise 2: Pull-ups/Pulldowns (a vertical pull)

Exercise 3: T-bar rows (a horizontal row)

Exercise 4: Cable machine lat pullovers

  1. Feel Your Back Work On Every Repetition

Weight training should be a fun and intuitive experience. The goal isn’t to move weights around but to feel your muscles work and produce force. Take, for example, the lat pulldown:

It’s a simple accessory movement for the back, and it can do a fantastic job of strengthening and developing your lats. But you need to feel it activate the right muscles on every repetition. If you’re moving the weight and barely feel your back work, you need to take a step back and see where the issue might be.

  1. Don’t Use Momentum

The use of momentum is one of the cardinal sins in back training. Many people do it because it’s easy and because they get to train with heavier weights. But, the issue is, using momentum isn’t helping you stimulate or grow your muscles well. Instead, it only works to feed your ego and make you feel better about yourself.

Optimal back training is about doing smooth repetitions with a full range of motion. You need to control every inch of each repetition. Whether you’re lifting the weight or returning it to the start position, always ensure that your back muscles are in control.

If this means using a bit less weight across all movements, so be it. But the results you can achieve with this mindset are far superior to anything you would gain by pleasing your ego.


Now that you have a good understanding of the back and how to train it, it’s time to apply the knowledge. If you’re looking for the best female workout clothes, head over to our shop to see what we have in store.

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