All too often, men (mostly men) prioritize chest day over any other muscle group. Leg day is often skipped, back day may be under-utilized, and chest may be worked as many as 2 days per week! In reality, having a strong back is so much more beneficial to daily activities, as well as being helpful while working other muscle groups, i.e., legs in the squat. My favorite body parts to train are legs and back, followed by shoulders, because I think these three muscle groups are the most beautiful as well as most functional. Having a strong back (similar to strong legs) helps you pick up things, carry heavy things, keeps your spine strong and straight and helps stabilize your core. What does having a strong chest do for you? I mean really? Not much. Plus, no one really cares about huge pecs on guys (or girls for that matter)…I think a muscular back and big, strong SHOULDERS is much more appealing than pectoral muscles. Now, I am not saying AT ALL that you should quit training chest and quit doing bench press. Bench press is important. I am just saying it’s not the most important…and I would argue that training legs and back should take precedent. So, now I go into detail about why I love to train my back muscles super hard and often:
- A strong back helps you squat. Having a strong lower back and upper back helps you squat more weight. Doing bent over rows (especially) aids you when you are squatting because you’re improving core strength, working your latissimus dorsi and traps- so include these every week in your strength training program. Bent over rows also improve your deadlift. Strengthening your lower back, also, will help strengthen your core simultaneously which will help you with front squats too. Ever tried heavy front squats? If you have, you know exactly what I am talking about. You better have a strong lower back and core before attemping these. Your back is a huge component of your core!
- A strong back helps daily activities. Speaking of core, having a strong back helps you carry out daily activities. Sitting in a chair, bending over, housework, gardening, moving, picking up boxes at work, these are all using your core/lower back/back muscles. Lower back pain can be debilitating if you don’t ever strength train – and you probably have this pain from a weak core and weak back muscles! So by exercising your back muscles, you will also work your core, and alleviate lower back pain. Did you know dumbbell rows work your obliques, too? This is why BACK day is practically my favorite day of the week! Because I love to strengthen every part of my back as well as increase core strength. You will feel better every other day of the week if you have a super strong back. Plus, a muscular back is super sexy! Since I started lifting heavy and often, and truly focusing on lifting heavy on back day, I have ZERO back pain from my scoliosis. It’s a dream come true.
- A strong back helps you have good posture – which most people do not have. I am lucky because I am a former ballet dancer so I know all about proper posture and good body placement. But most people are not as lucky. People neglect their rear delts as well as the rest of the back muscles – and working your rear delts, lower back and trapezius (along with core muscles) will help you have better/perfect posture! Working your chest too often (and skimping out on back exercises) will do the opposite. Especially with people sitting too frequently at desk jobs and slouching at the computer, you truly must focus on exercising and strengthening the back muscles and core to aid good posture. Next time you are sitting at the computer, think about your body placement at that moment. Are you slouching? Not engaging your abs or sitting up straight? I thought so! I am constantly aware of my body placement – and I do my best to engage my core 100% of the day and not let myself “sink” into my lower back, so to speak.
- A strong back = strong core. The back is such a large group of muscles – and it includes your core. Your core is comprised of your abdominal muscles as well as middle and lower back muscles. This is what helps stabilize your body – which is such an important factor in daily activities. Having a strong back/core helps your spinal alignment and will allow you to live a pain-free life! It also helps if you have even the slightest amount of scoliosis (like I do). Strength training your back and core will help you as you anti-age in terms of loss of bone density/fragile bones, weakening posture, worsening of scoliosis, and more.
- A strong back is sexy. When you work your back frequently, you will love how GOOD it makes you look. Working your lats will give you that “V” tapered look, while also making your waist appear smaller. Because your back is such a large group of muscles, it truly helps shape your entire appearance. There are so many different muscles in the back and when you start to train them at many angles, you will love how good it looks (and how strong you are). Having a strong back looks good and feels good. So, if you’ve been neglecting your back, I recommend you start training it ASAP. Below are some of my favorite exercises!
MY FAVORITE EXERCISES:
- Barbell row, first and foremost (this one helps improve your squat!)
- Seated cable row (wide and narrow grip)
- Deadlift (so many different variations here – I like sumo and Romanian)
- T-bar row
- Dumbbell rows (one arm and both arm)
- Lat pull-downs (short for latissimus dorsi)
- Face pulls (rear delts worked here)
- Weighted hyperextensions