Want a Ripped Back? Give These 5 Exercises a Try

A well-rounded strength-training routine should include plenty of exercises dedicated to building a ripped back. This will help you sculpt a wide, well-defined back, and it’ll also help prevent injury. Men’s Fitness notes that strengthening your back muscles improves your posture and helps prevent disproportionate muscle strength, which can happen when you focus solely on your chest and arms and neglect other areas. “Continuous pressing (like flat and incline bench) without back training leads to strength imbalances; you have to balance out your pressing to keep muscles firing so one area is not overdeveloped or underdeveloped,” C.J. Murphy, M.F.S., told Men’s Fitness.

Ready to pack on size and improve your back strength? Start working these five moves into your weight-lifting routine. You’ll have a ripped back in no time.

 1. Deadlifts

male athlete in the gym preparing for a deadlift

Deadlifts are a must for a ripped back. | iStock.com

If you’re looking for a move that strengthens all of the major back muscles, start working deadlifts into your workout rotation. BodyBuilding.com notes that deadlifting strengthens the entire back, as well as its surrounding muscles, and builds core stability.

The only equipment you need to perform this move is a bar. Men’s Fitness explains that you should begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hips bent back. Make sure your grip on the bar is just outside of the knees. Keep your back flat, extend your hips to stand up, and pull the bar up, driving your hips through and keeping your shoulders back. Keep your eyes on the ground a few feet in front of you the entire time you’re pulling; lower the bar back to start, and repeat.

2. Bent-over rows

Man in position for bent over row exercise

Add these into your routine. | iStock.com

Bent-over rows will widen your back and ensure every muscle gets hit, from the inner musculature to the edge of the lats. Muscle & Performance notes that this exercise targets the midback, which consists of the rhomboids, lats, teres major and minor, infraspinatus, and middle and lower trapezius. For the best results and to prevent injury, it’s extremely important to use proper form when doing this move. Muscle & Performance warns that when you bend your hips and lift the barbell in front of you, your spinal column becomes vulnerable. To avoid injury, keep your core tight and flexed, and don’t round your lower back.

Livestrong.com explains how to do bent-over rows: Keep your back flat, nearly horizontal to the floor, and your abs braced, and row the weight straight up toward your belly button, driving your elbows back. For best results, use a challenging weight, and aim for five to 10 sets of six to 12 repetitions.

3. Reverse fly

Weight to use for reverse fly exercise

You’ll feel this exercise no matter what amount of weight you’re using. | iStock.com

Target your posture muscles, which include the rhomboids, trapezius muscles, and rear shoulders, with the reverse fly, according to Verywell. Before starting this move, it’s important to note that because you’re bent over, you’ll likely need lighter weights than you typically would for back exercises.

To perform this exercise, begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then hinge forward from the hips. Start by using just your body weight, adding weights if it feels too easy, and raise your arms to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, lower your arms back down, and repeat.

4. Pull-ups

muscular man in a white tank doing pull-ups

You can’t ignore the effectiveness of the pull-up. | iStock.com

For anyone aiming to build a bigger back, pull-ups are a must. Muscle & Fitness states that this move is crucial for back development and building a tapered-V look. Pull-ups are classified as a closed kinetic chain exercise, or CKC, meaning that instead of using your effort to move an object, your effort moves you. CKC exercises are a great addition to any workout program because they train the body to move its own weight. In addition, Muscle & Fitness explains that these moves are often safer because they allow for a more natural range of motion and reduce stress on the joints.

To start, Muscle & Performance says to grasp a pull-up bar with both hands in an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, bend your legs, cross your feet, squeeze your glutes, and brace your abs. Then, pull yourself up until your chin is raised above the bar, and slowly lower your body down until your arms and shoulders are fully extended; repeat.

5. Rowing

Sitting row exercise

Rowing is a tough workout. | iStock.com

Build your back muscles by adding rowing to your workout repertoire. WebMD explains that gyms often contain machines that mimic the rowing motion; simply sit like you would in a rowboat, and pull the bar, which is often attached to weights, toward you.

If you don’t have a machine, grab a resistance band and follow Livestrong.com’s instructions: Fasten the center of your resistance band to a stable piece of equipment or furniture; you can also anchor the band by wrapping it around the center of your feet. Sit tall on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you, keeping your knees slightly bent. Pull your ab muscles in toward your lower back, and slide your shoulder blades down and away from your ears.

Using an overhand grip, hold an end of the band in each hand, turn your palms to face each other, and extend your arms straight to assume the starting position. Pull the handles toward you, keeping your arms close to to the sides of your body, while also maintaining a straight torso. When your hands reach your body, stop pulling, and hold for one count before returning to the starting position; repeat.