Exercises for a Stronger Back

The back contains multiple muscles that are all used in daily activities that have to do with pulling. For example, when you go to start your push mower in the summer time, you need strong back muscles to pull the cord. Exercises to achieve more back strength can be done with free weights, machines and the weight of your body.


Pull-ups are body weight exercises that are performed with a pull-up bar. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width. Bend your knees and cross your legs behind your body. Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest meets it. Lower yourself back down and repeat.

Reverse Grip Pulldowns

Reverse grip pulldowns are performed with a lat pulldown machine. Your lats are the muscles on the sides of your back. Attach a straight bar to the high setting on the machine and sit on the seat. Place the thigh pad against your thighs so it is snug. Reach up and grab the bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Lean back slightly and pull the bar down toward your chest. Hold for a second, raise the bar back up and repeat. Keep your elbows tight against your sides when you do this exercise. You will also feel a strong contraction on your biceps when performing the reverse pulldown.

Bent-over Rows

Bent-over rows are performed with a barbell. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip in front of your thighs. Bend forward at the waist and let the bar hang straight down toward the floor. Your back should be slightly higher than parallel to the floor at this point. Pull the bar up to your stomach and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the bar back down and repeat. Keep a slight bend in your knees throughout the exercise.

Incline Bench Rows

Incline bench rows are performed with dumbbells. Lie face-down on the bench with your arms hanging straight down and your palms facing each other. Pull the weights up approximately 6 to 10 inches and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lower the dumbbells down slowly and repeat.

Lying Back Extensions

Back extensions work your lower back muscles, and they are done from a face-down position on the floor. Place your hands on the sides of your head and look straight down at the floor. Lift your upper body off the floor by engaging your lower back muscles. Hold for a second, lower yourself back down and repeat.

About this Author

Kevin Rail has worked in the fitness industry since 2001 and has been writing since 2004. He has professional experience as a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, motivational engineer and freelance fitness writer. He currently writes a monthly column for Ron Jones High-Performance Health. Rail has a bachelor’s degree in sports management: fitness and wellness from California University of Pennsylvania.