Second only to legs, your back probably takes the most out of you when it comes to training. But unfortunately, you don’t always have tons of time to dedicate to working this massive muscle group. In those instances, a superset workout are your best bet, and this superset packs six moves and 13 sets into a turbocharged 30-minutes-or-less format.
Warm up for five to 10 minutes with some light cardio and dynamic stretching that focuses on the shoulders, upper back, lower back, hips and neck, then begin your first superset. Do the superset moves back-to-back and rest no more than 60 seconds between to fast-track your workout duration and your calorie burn. Use a light to moderate weight for your first superset, then aim for a moderately heavy weight for the rest of the moves. Keep your reps pretty high to increase your time under tension, which boosts muscle development.
Barbell Good Morning
Setup: Balance a barbell across your shoulders and traps and grasp it lightly with both hands. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders down and back, and focus forward.
Move: Moving your upper body as one unit, fold forward with a straight back — hinging at the hips — and lower your torso toward the floor. When you’ve come nearly parallel or as far as you can, reverse the move and rise to the start.
Tip: If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to allow for a greater range of motion. Also, if you have lower-back problems, perform these with a very light weight and move slowly and deliberately with each repetition.
Setup: Hang from a pull-up bar with your hands spaced wider than your shoulders in an overhand grip. Bend your knees and cross your feet behind you. Look up toward the bar and lift your chest.
Move: Retract your shoulder blades, then drive your elbows down and back to lift your chest toward the bar. Pause at the top, then slowly lower to the start under control.
Tip: Change your hand placement to hit different parts of your back. Try a close grip, underhand grip and flip grip (one hand over, one hand under).
Beginner Tip: If you’re not yet proficient with pull-ups, use a pull-up band to assist or enlist a training partner to spot you until you develop more strength.
Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Row
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward. Keeping your back flat, hinge at the hips and fold forward about 45 degrees. Let your arms hang straight down toward the floor with your head neutral.
Move: Drive your elbows up and back, keeping your upper arms in close to your sides and pulling the weights in toward your rib cage. At the top, pause and squeeze, then lower to the start.
Tip: Alternate these week to week with a regular dumbbell row to hit your back in different ways.
Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a dumbbell at your side in an overhand grip. Fold forward from your hips with a flat back and allow your arm to hang straight down toward the floor. Place your opposite hand on your thigh for support.
Move: Keeping your arm straight, lift it in an arc alongside your body and up until it is parallel to the floor. Pause at the top, then lower slowly to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Keep your back straight and your shoulders square throughout this move to properly isolate your back muscles.
Dumbbell Bent-Arm Pullover
Setup: Lie faceup on a flat bench with your upper back and shoulders fully supported and hold a dumbbell with both hands over your chest, elbows slightly bent.
Move: Slowly drop the weight in an arc back over your head toward the floor, keeping your arms in close to your ears and your elbows slightly bent. When your elbows come level with your head, reverse the move and return to the start.
Tip: Keeping your arms slightly bent helps alleviate pressure on your elbows.
Setup: Lie facedown on a stability ball so your hips are supported, and extend your legs behind you with your toes digging into the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows flared.
Move: Keeping your back straight, lift your upper body until it comes in line with your legs and pause, squeezing your glutes at the top. Lower slowly to the start and repeat right away.
Tip: To make this move more challenging, hold a small plate with your arms extended straight out by your head to create a longer lever arm and amp the intensity.