Compound Exercises
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Back Compound Exercises

Whether you’re working in a modern office, on your feet all day, or keen to improve your physical health – giving your back the exercise time and attention it needs is absolutely essential. This can massively reduce your risk of injury, minimise lower back pain, and allow you to achieve strong definition into the bargain.

So, here are 8 back compound exercises that will help you build a bigger

Lat Pulldowns

Lat Pulldowns

An intensive start to the list, pulldowns are an exceptional way to exercise lats, rhomboids, and traps with little risk.

Ensuring your form is correct is essential, so be sure to approach the exercise correctly.

  • Start by siting facing your weight stack with your feet equally spaced apart.
  • Once ready, reach up and grab the handle with an even grip, pulling it down to your chest with full control.
  • Once complete, allow it to return to the original position with retained control and repeat until your set is finished.

Kettlebell Swings

kettlebell swings

Perfect as a quick and clean part of any workout, kettlebell swings are a neat way to work your posterior chain and lats – letting you quickly and efficiently strengthen your core and build strength in your lower back.

  • To complete, simply set a kettlebell of appropriate weigh on the floor in front of you, and stand with your feet no more than shoulder-width apart.
  • When ready, bend your knees and take the handle in both hands, keeping your back flat and use your lats to pull the bell between your legs and your hips to swing it shoulder height with your chest with full control.
  • Repeat for as many sets as necessary and – if required – use gloves and chalk to cut down on friction damage to your fingers.



This is best helped through the use of barbells, deadlifting activates your traps, rhomboids, and the levetor scapulae in addition to working your legs and core.

  • To complete, add a safe amount of weight to the bar and place your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Once ready, bend your knees and grab the bar firmly, engaging your core and keeping your back flat as you extend.
  • Hold this for a second or two and then bend your knees to gently lower the weight to the floor.

Repeat for as many sets as required and, if you’re new to the exercise, ask a friend or employee to spot your form and make sure you’re not at risk of injury.


pull ups

Fantastic for activating upper back muscles such as lats and deltoids, conducting pull-ups is a low-risk exercise that activates the upper back muscles and your pectorals– letting you enjoy a rounded, safe workout.

  • Once ready, take the bar with an even wide grip and bend your elbows to raise your body with full control, stopping when your chin touches the top of the bar.
  • Once complete, gently lower yourself to the floor with equal speed and return to your starting position.

These can be carried out assisted or unassisted, making them perfect for seasoned gymgoers.

Single Arm Rows

single arm rows

Settling on an arm row helps to activate the entirety of your back, covering essentials such as lats, traps and even your pecs and biceps.

Once ready, be sure to bend the opposite knee to the hand that you are holding the dumbbell and rest your shin and palm on your weight bench.

  • Use your abdominals to take the weight of the dumbbell while keeping your back straight.
  • Using the elbow of your dominant hand, bring the dumbbell up with full control until it touches your side.
  • Finally, bring the weight down to the starting position and repeat to complete your set.
  • Once finished, swap hands and repeat the process until your set is complete.

Inverted Rows

Perfect for those nursing an injury or getting back into the gym after some time away. Inverted rows use your own body weight to help safely build back muscles.

To start, set up a rack bar at your waist height, checking that it is properly secured and can fully take your weight.

  • When ready, take hold of the bar with a wider than hip grip and slowly lower yourself to hang beneath, with the heels of your feet resting on the floor.
  • When ready, bend your elbows and pull yourself up to touch the bar – maintaining full, consistent control throughout.

Seated Cable Row

Easily accomplished by using a weights machine if you want additional control – this provides a fantastic workout without creating extensive wear and tear to your joints or cartilage.

  • Once you have set your weight, place yourself in a weight-bearing position taking with a neutral spine and slight bend in your knees, avoiding overextension in any way.
  • When ready, grab the bar, bring your shoulders down, place your chest out and try to ‘pinch’ your shoulder blades to maximise engagement in your traps and lats.
  • Then bring your hands into your torso and bring your weights to a 90 degree angle and repeat until the set is closed.

If this is too difficult, it’s also possible to help build strength and confidence by using a standard rowing machine and steadily increasing the resistance over time to help build form and exercise key muscle groups.

T-Bar Row

A flexible exercise that only requires a barbell, a T-Bar row involves the use of weight plates on the end of a barbell.

  • Once you are ready, stack the bar with a comfortable, safe amount of weight on one end and secure the other end of the bar into the corner of your exercise space.
  • With your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees to reach up and bring the bar up to meet your chest. This can be accomplished with a close grip handle or the use of interlocked fingers.
  • You can then repeat the exercise in full stretch position with a focus on pulling up through the shoulders and elbows, fully exercising your lats.
  • This involves a short range of safe motion with an initial contraction then resetting to a neutral position and repeating for as many sets as you feel confident repeating.

This helps build muscle with minimal risk of injury and can be completed even in the busiest of gyms in-between waits on machines with little effort.

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from a sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.

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