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The best workouts for a strong back

Our back muscles are extremely important, but they are also the most neglected. Here are some great workouts to strengthen your back

The best workouts for a strong back.
The best workouts for a strong back. (Istockphoto)

One of the most common complaints among people is back pain. And yet, when it comes to workouts, the back muscles are the most neglected muscle group of the body. “What you can’t see you usually do not train; that bit is very much true when it comes to training your back muscles. Right from the top of your neck all the way down to your tail bone there are many secret workers that go unnoticed just because you can’t readily see them in the mirror. Out of sight is out of mind,” says Gagan Arora, celebrity trainer and founder of Delhi’s Kosmic Fitness.

One of the root causes of back pain is muscle atrophy in our backs due to our sedentary lives. We spend far too much time sitting in one place, usually in front of our screens, and very little time walking or doing any other physical activity. This can be easily addressed through consciously adding workouts for strengthening the back.

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Along with protecting the spine and providing rigidity to it, the back muscles are also designed to have a braking effect on the upper half of the skeletal system, explains A.K. Abhinav, Bengaluru-based coach and founder of Namma Xfit. “The muscles of the back are synchronous to the corresponding muscles in front.” Several muscle groups in your back are used for pulling movements, stabilising your scapulae and, most importantly, moving. Strong back muscles assist in all pulling activities and in the day-to-day work of your shoulder joints. Even basic human locomotion, including standing straight, walking, running, climbing stairs, lifting bags or suitcases—every activity you do all day needs some sort of back and spinal strength and stability.

Your back muscles are divided into three broad regions, namely cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back). “It’s important to address all three regions of the back as a deficiency in any one of them, could adversely affect the health of the others. For example, if the lumbar region becomes weak, it could result in the thoracic spine becoming tight and less mobile. The upper back muscles work opposite to the chest muscles and, in a way, keep the chest muscles humble. If your upper back is weak, the force produced by the chest muscles will overpower the structures of the shoulder joint complex resulting in injury. A strong upper back would ensure there is balance and it would help the shoulder withstand high levels of force production. A weak upper back could also result in the neck trying to compensate and perform a function that it isn’t intended for. And this could easily lead to an injury,” says Abhinav.

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A strong back has many benefits including better posture, lower chances of back aches, good movement and also improves body aesthetics. “Strong lats give you a V-shaped taper that is much sought after. Muscles in the mid-back are used for scapular stability, which improves posture and reduces chances of suffering slip discs. Lower back muscles stabilise the spine and help in better mobility of your hips making walking and running gait seamless,” adds Arora.The muscles of the back should be trained with three objectives in mind, namely injury reduction, general strength and aesthetics.

Also Read: The best workouts for a strong chest

A.K. Abhinav’s Workouts for the Back

Workout 1 (Injury Reduction)

Five supersets

Scap Push-ups: 10 reps

Elbow Plank Scap Push-ups: 10 reps

Five supersets

Elevated Bridge: 10 reps

Single Leg Elevated Bridge: 10 reps

Five supersets

Passive 3D Neck Isometrics: 10 seconds

Dynamic Chakrasana: 5 reps

Five supersets

Reverse Grip Wall Slides: 10 reps

Prone Cobra: 30 seconds

Also Read: How to build strength with just bodyweight exercises

Workout 2 (Strength)

Five sets

Barbell Bent Over Row: 10 reps

Five supersets

Pull-ups: 5 reps

Hanging Shrugs: 10 reps

Five supersets

Renegade Rows: 10 reps

Barbell Shrugs: 10 reps

Five Giant sets

Sorenson’s Hold: 30 seconds

Reverse Sorenson's Hold: 30 seconds

Wrestlers Bridge: 30 seconds

Also Read: Why you need to do handstand push-ups

Workout 3 (Aesthetics)


Dumbbell Bent-over Row: 15, 12, 8, 8 reps

Dumbbell Bent-over Lateral Raises: 15, 12, 8, 8 reps


Single Arm Dumbbell Row: 15, 12, 8 reps

Dumbbell Pullover: 15, 12, 8 reps

Giant Set

Dumbbell Shrugs: 15, 12, 8 reps

Body Rows: 15, 12, 8 reps

Back Extensions: 15, 12, 8 reps

Five sets

Prone Neck Extensions: 10 reps

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Gagan Arora’s Back Workout

3 sets

Deadlift 10-12 reps

Chin-ups or Lat Pull-downs 10-12 reps

Bent-over Rows (dumbbell or barbell) 10-12 reps

Bent-over Dumbbell Lateral Raises 10-12 reps

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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