There are many types of machines, pulleys and callisthenic methods that can be used to get a good back workout. In this article, we will take a look at the different muscles of the back, and will recommend an effective weight training exercise that targets each muscle.
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First, we will take a look at a general back exercise that targets the entire back, called the bent-over row. To perform this exercise, you will need a bench. Stand by the side of the bench with your left side closest to the bench, facing towards the end of the bench. Then place the left knee on the bench, and then the right hand in front of the left knee. Keep the right leg on the ground. In this position, the exercise will be performed with your right hand. Grab a dumbbell, and lift up it to your shoulder and lower back down again. The bent-over row works nearly every muscle in the back, and provides an excellent workout for hard-to-train muscles like the Rhomboids (upper middle back, along spine), lower Trapezius (upper back, runs along spine), middle Trapezius (upper back, runs along spine), and Teres Major (outer back, outside Lattisius Dorsi).
Now, we will take a look at a targeted exercise, the front pulldown. The front pulldown is performed with a machine. It is essentially the same motion as a pullup, by simply grabbing a bar that is attached to a cable; the bar is pulled down to the chest, and then raised back to its starting position. The only difference between the pulldown and the pullup is that a pulldown is performed in a seated position, and does not demand quite as much support from stabilizer muscles. The front pulldown specifically targets the Latissimus Dorsi, which are located on the outside, upper back. The Latissimus Dorsi are the muscles are sometimes known as, "wings," because they protrude from the sides of the back and are shaped like triangles.Shrugs are the next targeted exercise that we will be looking at. Shrugs are performed by standing with a dumbbell in each hand, and then shrugging the shoulders up and down. Shrugs target the upper Trapezius muscles, which are located on the upper back, on the rear side of the shoulders. They run from the back of the neck to the edge of the shoulders.
An exercise that works commonly ignored muscles is the cable rotation, which targets the Infraspinatus, which is located on the back of the shoulder and is a rotator cuff muscle. The cable external rotation also provides a secondary workout for the Teres Minor (narrow muscle on the outside of the shoulder). The exercise is performed with a cable machine. Stand with your side to the machine, firmly grab the grip that is attached to the cable, and then position the elbow against the side with the forearm across the belly. The exercise is performed by pulling the cable away from the body and rotating the shoulder. It is important to not rotate the back when performing this exercise, because the emphasis will be placed on the obliques and lower back instead of the Infraspinatus.
The cable internal rotation is the opposite of the external rotation. Stand with your side to the machine, firmly grab the grip that is attached to the cable, and then position the elbow against the side the forearm extended away from the body. This exercise is performed by rotating the shoulder internally, towards the belly. The primary emphasis of the internal rotation is the Subscapularis, which is located below the Infraspinatus, and is also a rotator cuff muscle.
When performing back exercises, make sure that you are using a comfortable amount of resistance, and do not overwork yourself. Back injury can be very painful, and can put you out of weight training for a long time if it's bad. And, as with all exercise, make sure that you stretch and drink plenty of water. Have fun!
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