Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Training your back isn’t glamorous. In fact, many women glaze over their back workouts in favor of more “showy” body parts like abs, legs, and arms. But a sleek v-taper may just be the finishing touch your physique needs to complete your look.
A strong back is not only important for improving your overall strength in all other exercise, but it also improves your posture. And who doesn’t want better posture, especially when you consider that proper posture conveys confidence, decreases neck tension and makes you appear slimmer.
If that isn’t reason enough to focus more attention on your back workouts, consider how much sexier you’ll look and feel in your bikini or backless dress this summer.
The reasons to sculpt and strengthen you back are simple and so is the workout that will get you there. This workout utilizes straight sets for a low number of repetitions, allowing you to lift heavier weight, which will encourage strength gains. The program also keeps the overall volume low, enabling you to perform this workout twice a week without any risk of overtraining your back.
Perform this workout twice a week and start seeing results in about a month.
|Wide-Grip Chin-Up||3||10–12||60 seconds|
|Barbell Bent-Over Row||3||6–8||90 seconds|
|Lat Pulldown||3||6–8||90 seconds|
|Bent-Over Reverse Flye||3||10–12||60 seconds|
|One-Arm Cable Row||3||6–8 per arm||90 seconds|
Target Muscles: Latissimus dorsi
Setup: Grasp a chin-up bar with a wide grip.
Action: Keeping your shoulders back and down, pull yourself up toward the bar. Hold for a second, then lower and repeat.
Tips: Don’t just hang there; always keep your lats engaged for optimal results. Also, you can try an assisted chin-up machine if you aren’t quite able to do a chin-up on your own yet.
Barbell Bent-Over Row
Target Muscles: trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoids
Setup: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and lean forward at your hips, keeping your back straight. Grasp a barbell with a wide overhand grip.
Action: Pull the barbell up toward your navel, keeping your elbows tight to your body. Pause for a second, return to the start position and repeat.
Target Muscles: latissimus dorsi
Setup: Sit in the lat pulldown machine with the pad snuggly resting on your thighs and grasp the bar with a wide grip just beyond the bend of the bar. Keep your feet flat on the ground and sit up tall.
Action: Lean back slightly and pull the bar down toward your collarbone, keeping your elbows back and down. Hold for a second, return to the star position and repeat.
Tip: Always allow your arms to fully extend, but not lock, at the top of the movement.
Bent-Over Reverse Flye
Target Muscles: posterior deltoids
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and lean forward at your hips with a straight back. With a slight bend (10 to 30 degrees) in your elbows, grasp a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and let your arms hang perpendicular to the floor.
Action: Raise the dumbbells out to your sides until your elbow come to shoulder height. Try keeping your elbows higher than your wrists by leading with your pinkies. Hold for a second, return to the start position and repeat.
Tip: Minimize latissimus dorsi involvement by ensuring your upper arms follow a path that is perpendicular to your upper body.
One-Arm Cable Row
Target Muscles: trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid
Setup: Stand facing a low pulley with a staggered stance. Lean forward slightly at your hips, keeping your back straight and grasp the pulley with an overhand grip.
Action: Pull the cable up toward your navel while rotating your hand into an underhand grip. Keep your elbow tight to your body. Hold, and return to the start position and repeat. Complete the set and then switch sides.
Tip: The rotation of your hand increases the intensity of this exercise.