Training the back should be an integral part of any woman’s workout routine. Having a svelte, built back is important for symmetry and balance in the body. In today’s technologically advanced world, so many of our movements are forward-based (driving the car, typing on your computer, and talking on the phone are just a few examples of forward based motions you probably do each day, likely without a second thought).

In order to balance out the forward motions we do, we must work our back muscles to help us keep our posture and help to open up our chests. Additionally, building a sexy back helps you to achieve that sought after hourglass shape and helps to banish the dreaded “bra bulge”.

Functional anatomy

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To train your back most effectively, it is important to have an understanding of the anatomy of the back and the muscles that must be trained to get your best back ever. The muscles that make up the majority of the musculature of the back include the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, erector spinae, and rhomboids.

The latissimus dorsi (lat) is one of the largest muscles in the back. The latissimus dorsi muscle is located under the arms on both sides of your back and is responsible for bringing the arms into the sides (a movement called adduction). The trapezius muscle is a large triangular muscle that extends all the way from the neck to the mid back.

It is divided into three sections: upper trapezius, mid-trapezius, and lower trapezius. The upper trapezius is responsible for shoulder elevation (so it will not be our main focus in this workout); the middle trapezius (mid trap) is responsible for squeezing the shoulder blades together, and the lower trapezius (lower trap) muscle is responsible for bringing the shoulder blades down.

The erector spinae is a thin muscle that spans the length of the back along the spine and is responsible for spinal extension (arching your back). Finally, the rhomboids are located in the middle portion of the back near the shoulder blades and function to pull the shoulder blades in toward each other, a movement called retraction.

To build your best back, all these muscles need to be trained during your workout, which is exactly why this program is so effective.

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The program

This program is designed to be a part of a split routine, in which you train specific body parts on specific days. As such, this workout should be completed 1-2 days per week with at least 48 hours rest in between workouts.

Resting your muscles in between lifting sessions is just as important as the exercise itself. Be sure that you give your muscles plenty of rest in between workouts to allow them time to grow and recover.

To maximize the effectiveness, you should complete three to four sets of 10-12 repetitions of these exercises. You should use a load heavy enough that you reach muscular fatigue by the last repetition of each set. Rest should be limited in between sets to 45-60 seconds. This allows the hormones in your body that aid in muscle growth to circulate effectively in your bloodstream, helping to maximize your potential.

To increase the effectiveness of this workout, you can use a pyramid lifting scheme. This is done by increasing the weight with each set.

For example, the first set you would complete 12 repetitions using 80 pounds, followed by the second set using 85 pounds, then the third set using 90 pounds, and finally the fourth set using 95 pounds (with heavier weight, it is ok to decrease the repetitions slightly-just be sure you are fully fatiguing the muscle each set). Try to complete the exercises in this order to maximize your rest time and achieve your best back ever!

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Rest

Prime Mover (Muscle)

Technique Tips

Assisted Pull Ups 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Lats To achieve full range of motion, lower yourself down slowly and begin the movement by pulling your shoulder blades down and away from your neck. This helps you focus on your back muscles rather than your biceps.
Seated Cable (Low) Row 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Rhomboids, mid/lower trapezius Keep your shoulders stacked directly over your hips for maximal effectiveness.
Lat Pull Down 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Lats Be sure you pull the bar in front of your neck; this puts much less stress on the shoulder and neck. For variety, you can change your grip from overhand to underhand (this will also target the biceps more).
High row 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Rhomboids, mid/lower trapezius Keep your chest up and begin the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Plank Rows 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Rhomboids, mid/lower trapezius Be sure to squeeze and pinch your shoulder blades during this exercise.
Back Extensions 3-4 10-12 45-60 seconds Erector Spinae On a hyperextension bench, be sure to squeeze your back, glutes and hamstrings to raise your body to create a straight line from your shoulders, to your hips, knees, and ankles. Do not over extend the back to prevent injury.

Completing this workout should get you well on your way to your best back ever! Remember to give yourself plenty of rest and recovery in between workouts to maximize the effectiveness. I hope you enjoy the burn you will get from this workout—be sure to share your results and any questions you have below!

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