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Back Exercises for Bodybuilders and Powerlifters

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Back Exercises. The back muscles are often one of the most under-worked muscle groups by bodybuilders and casual weight trainers. On this page you’ll learn about popular back exercises, as well as proper form. Some of the exercises primarily target the lower back. These back exercises are noted.

Each back exercise features a mini-description. Coming soon…videos for each back exercise.

Deadlifts. Place your feet under the bar so that from a side view, the bar “cuts” through the center of each foot. Keep a natural foot positioning. Generally, your toes will be pointed very slightly outward. Reach down and grab the bar with an alternating hand grip. Next, sink your hips until your shins touch the bar. Thrust your chest forward, tighten your upper and lower back, and lock your arms. Look slightly above the horizon, and stand up, keeping your back tight.

Sumo Deadlifts. Sumo deadlifts are performed in the same manner as standard deadlifts. The only difference is foot positioning. Generally, you’ll want to position your feet slightly outside of the smooth positioning groove that is cut into the cross-hatched knurling. Because your knees are pointing outward, your feet should as well. Line your feet up with the angle of your legs. Reach down and grab the bar with an alternating hand grip. Next, sink your hips until your shins touch the bar. Thrust your chest forward, tighten your upper and lower back, and lock your arms. Look slightly above the horizon, and stand up, keeping your back tight.

Barbell Rows. Place your feet in a comfortable position and grab the  bar with an overhand grip. Arch, and tighten your lower back. Row the barbell by fluidly pulling your shoulders back and contracting your upper back muscles, while pulling the bar towards your abs. Your arms should act as “hooks” during this movement in an attempt to involve more of the upper back muscles.

Yates Rows. Yates rows are performed in the same manner as barbell rows, but instead of an overhand grip, you use an underhand grip. The Yates row has a tendency to involve the bicep more then standard barbell rows, but can also be easier on the elbow. As with barbell rows, utilize the arms as hooks when rowing, and focus on back contraction.

Incline Bench Barbell Rows. Place a bench at a moderate incline. Grab two dumbbells, and carefully lower your chest to the bench. Row the dumbbells towards your torso, using your arms as hooks. Focus on pulling your shoulders back and contracting your back muscles. A variety of grip positions can be used for this movement. You can utilize an overhand, underhand, or angled grip. You can also perform this row with your palms facing one another.

Incline Bench Back Shrugs. Place a bench at a moderate incline. Grab two dumbbells, and carefully lower your chest to the bench. Instead of rowing the weight up, you will keep your arms locked and shrug your shoulder blades together. Begin the movement by pulling your shoulders back, and follow through by contracting your lats together. You will be able to use a lot of weight for this movement, so lifting straps may be needed.

Low Pulley Rows. With your feet firmly secured, grab the handle and row the bar towards your torso using your arms as hooks. Concentrate on pulling your shoulders back and contracting your lats as you finish the movement. A variety of grips and hand positions can be used for this exercise, from a wide grip row to a narrow grip, underhand row. Avoid the temptation to leverage the weight towards your body by leaning back.

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