Strengthening your back balances your posture, not only improving you athletically, but wards off chronic injury and pain. If you squat or deadlift for example, a strong back is key to performing those exercises properly.

A common mistake with back exercises is going too heavy to start. Put the pin in a couple notches higher and start your row with a lighter weight so that you can get your form correct. Form is key with back exercises, as being conscious that your back is doing the work will assist in building your back muscles faster. For example, for seated rows, it’s easy to make this a biceps exercise if you’re not conscious of the pulling. Your biceps will still burn by your last few repetitions, but your back should be doing most of the pulling and not your biceps. Holding at the contracted position will help to assure this. Now once you master the exercise, begin to up your weight.

Before we get to the workout, here are some key reminders to ensure that you get the most out of your back training:

  1. Work out your back at least twice a week; three shorter workouts if possible
  2. With back exercises, you usually want to keep your head, neck, and spine in proper alignment. You’ll protect your core and spine this way
  3. Try to feel the contraction in your back at the end of each pull by looking straight ahead and pushing your shoulder blades down as you squeeze your back muscles
  4. Change grips to avoid any long-term injuries due to the wrists not being able to rotate properly by holding a bar in one position for many reps

Here is a routine to get that sexy back:

Wide Grip Lat Pull Down (Lats; secondary muscles: Biceps, Shoulders, Abs, Upper Back)

Sit down underneath a cable machine with an attachment that resembles a pull-up bar. Grab the bar so that palms are facing outwards and are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core as you pull the bar down to your chest. Hold and then slowly return to starting position. Repeat. Ensure that your butt does not leave the seat and your core remains engaged, using as little momentum as possible to complete the work.

3 sets x 12-25 repetitions 

Pull-up - Free or with machine assisted (Lats, Biceps; secondary muscles: Trapezius, Deltoids, Pecs, Teres Major/Minor and Infraspinatus)

Grab a pull up bar with your palms facing outwards, outside of shoulder width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin is in line with the bar. Slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended. That is one rep. Do a lot of sets with low reps - a slow pull up is a bad pull up. Focus on speed rather than doing as many as possible.

6-10 sets of 1-3 repetitions is a good start

Face-Pull (Deltoids, Rotator Cuff Muscles, Trapezius, Rhomboids; secondary: Biceps)

Set up the rope attachment near the top of the cable pulley system depending on your height. Grip the inside of the rope and pull it towards your face so that you finish the pull with the rope on either side of your face. Hold for a second and then slowly return.

3 sets x 12-15 repetitions

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows (Latissimus Dorsi, Trapezius, Rhomboids; secondary: Biceps, Erector Spinae)

Find a flat bench and grab a dumbbell. Put your left leg from the knee down on the bench. Your right foot will remain flat on the ground. Bend over and grab the dumbbell while keeping your back straight. Pull the dumbbell up towards your torso. Hold once the weight is level with your body. Hold for a second. Slowly lower and repeat. Complete 8-12 repetitions and then switch sides.

3 sets x 8-12 repetitions per arm

Seated Cable Row (Erector Spinae, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Lats, Teres Major; secondary: Deltoids, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Sternal Head, lower pecs)

Sit at the seated row machine and attach a close-grip handle. Sit on the machine with knees slightly bent and your feet pressing against the foot rest. Grab the handle so that your palms are facing one another. Keep your back straight and your chest out as you pull the handle towards you and exhale as you are doing so. Hold, then slowly return the weight to where your arms are extended. Do not lean forward as your spine must remain straight. Repeat.

4 sets x 12 repetitions