You can search for a key word in our fitness tips and articles by using the search box below.

Search Term:

Health and Fitness Tips

A Big Back

The back is a very complex body part that, when fully developed, is nearly as large in muscle mass as the thighs and hips. Like leg training, back workouts are extremely fatiguing. A rapid building-up of fatigue toxins invariably occurs when you work your back. This makes the pain barrier a very real enemy in back training.

Back training can also be a problem for individuals (usually those who have an inherent structural weakness in their spines) who have suffered from lower-back injuries. While it's possible to train around a lower-back injury by avoiding those movements that aggravate the injury, it is much more difficult to achieve maximum back development when you have a chronic spinal problem.

When working-out back muscles I encourage my clients to treat their backs as three separate muscle groups - upper back (primarily the trapezius muscle complex), the middle back (primarily the latissimus dorsi group), and the lower back (primarily the erector spinae muscles). So they don't necessarily train all three areas in the same workout. Many clients do their trap work with deltoids and/or lower-back training with hip and thigh work.
Remember to begin your back workout with five to eight minutes of warm-up exercises.

Front Wide-Grip Pulldown
Emphasis: Upper back, primarily the trapezius muscle complex.

Starting Position: Grip on the bar, position yourself on the seat with your chest up and lean back slightly. Stay in the position throughout the exercise.

Movement Performance: Squeeze your lats to initiate the movement, pulling the bar down in a smooth motion to nearly touch your upper chest. Hold the peak contraction for a moment, and then slowly return the bar all the way up to get a good stretch through the working muscles. Repeat the movement for ten repetitions and a total of three sets.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Emphasis: Middle back, primarily the latissimus dorsi group.

Starting Position: Rest your free hand on a flat-bench, keeping your chest slightly lifted as you bend forward from the hips, one foot slightly ahead of the other for balance.

Movement Performance: Keeping your torso stable throughout the movement, forcefully pull the dumbbell all the way up and touch your chest and contract your lats. Then lower the dumbbell straight down to the starting position. Repeat the movement for ten repetitions and a total of three sets. Repeat with your other arm.

The back helps make that perfect shape, but be careful and take the time needed to perform the above exercises with caution and precision.

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed