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Keep the following in mind when starting a stretching routine as part of a program of back exercises:

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  • While you can't beat the chinup as a back exercise, the lat pulldown is also great for increasing muscle. In fact, bodybuilders swear by it. Get the most out of the move by performing the exercise at a slow, controlled tempo. You should "feel" your lats working each rep. Do 8 to 12 reps like this, making sure your upper body remains in nearly the same position from start to finish.

    DO THIS: Sit down at a lat pulldown station and grab the bar with an overhand grip that's just beyond shoulder width. Without moving your torso, pull your shoulders back and down, and bring the bar down to your chest. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

    When it's done right, the deadlift is an excellent back exercise. As you pick up and put down the weight, your upper-back muscles—including your rhomboids, traps, erector spinae, rear deltoids, and lats—must fire on all cylinders to keep your torso straight and your lower back from rounding. It's when you fail to engage these muscles that injuries can occur.

    DO THIS: Load a barbell and roll it against your shins. Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands just beyond shoulder width. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, pull your torso up and thrust your hips forward as you stand up with the barbell. Lower the bar to the floor and repeat.

    Want more reasons to add the deadlift to your workout routine? World-renowned fitness expert Dan John explains why you should .

  • The final best upper back exercise we will go over is the dynamic prone cobra. Like “the chicken (covered next),” the prone cobra requires no equipment.

    You probably didn't expect to see a squat variation on the best back exercises list, but front squats are an excellent way to build the upper back. Because the barbell is placed in front of your body, your back muscles must work overtime to keep your torso upright so you don't tip forward. As you lower down into the squat, keep strict form. Maintain a tall chest and keep your upper arms parallel to the floor throughout the entire movement.

    DO THIS: Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and place it in front of you across the tops of your shoulders. Now raise your upper arms until they’re parallel to the floor, allowing the bar to roll back onto your finger­tips. Without letting your elbows drop, lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Push your body back to the starting position.

  • Seated cable rows are a traditional upper-back exercise. Adding a pause for three seconds when the bar gets to your torso, however, can increase your gains. The pause keeps your scapular retractors working longer. Strengthening these muscles is important because a weakness can lead to unstable shoulders—and that limits your strength and muscle gains in nearly every upper-body exercise, including the bench press and arm curl.

    When you start this movement, pull your shoulders down and back. Otherwise, you'll keep your shoulders elevated, which stresses the shoulder joint. Over time, this can cause your joint to become unstable, which often leads to injury.

    DO THIS: Attach a straight bar to a cable station and position yourself with your feet braced. Grab the bar using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and sit upright. Pull the bar to your upper abs. Pause for three seconds, then slowly lower your body back to the starting position. Your torso should remain straight and motionless throughout the movement. Don't lean forward and backward to perform the exercise.

Lower-back Exercises & Lower-back Workouts

Also called iso-lateral rows, Bent Over Rows are a fantastic horizontal pulling back exercise, targeting mid-back muscles such as the rhomboids which are important for posture.