Want to train at home and get a big, broad back with a v-taper? Lats that look like the wings on a 747? Here are the involved muscles and the exercises that’ll make it happen.
Your Back Muscles
There are many muscles having their home on your backside. First of all, there are the lats, wrapped around its sides. Training them gives the back the most noticeable difference in size.
Yet we shouldn’t forget the traps and the rhomboids, large muscles running from your lower back to up your neck, giving the entire area definition. Then the “erector spinae,” a deep-sitting group supporting the full length of the spine. Finally many smaller muscles, among them the teres maior and minor, that stabilize your shoulder (you may have heard of the “rotator cuff“) and get involved in many of the back exercises you’ll do.
Targeting The Lats With Pull-Ups
There is one exercise bar none that asks the most from the lats, and that is the pull-up. While those are its focus, it also takes along the middle and lower back (the traps), the rhomboids, the rotatory cuff and trains the biceps and forearms as well. Pull-ups never leave my personal home workout plan.
To beginners they seem daunting, but if you adjust the difficulty right, just about everyone can succeed with them:
You can later make them more difficult with an improvised dip belt:
If you don’t have a pull-up bar, check my Ultimate Guide To Pull-Ups. It tells you how to improvise a pull-up bar, which ones you can buy and tons more info about pull-ups.
Another awesome compound you can do for the lats is the barbell pullover. These mainly do the lats, but you also get work done by the chest. Key is to not move the elbow joint. If you have to, lower the weight.
It also works with a dumbbell, but I prefer the barbell.
Rows For General Back Training
For general back training, using lots of the muscles you saw in the pictures, we can do dumbbell rows. The lats still work along here, but in much more concert with the upper back muscles.
A variation is doing them with a barbell:
Yet another is the underhand barbell row, that puts more focus on the lats.
I like to alternate between the last two types of rows. Training at home you don’t have that many back exercises available and putting in just a bit of variation can result in further muscle growth.
Last but not least there’s the t-bar row. The muscles it works are similar to the row, but once more a bit of change can be the key to progress. At gyms people do them with a machine, at home we can invent our own solution.
Shrugs For Levator Scapulae And Trapezius
There is basically one exercise directly targeting the levator scapulae you can do at home: the shrug. But be careful, because it also trains the upper part of the traps. Overdoing it may end up in your head and neck looking like a sharpened pencil.