Building a strong back is crucial for overall strength and power, it can also help to improve posture, reduce your risk of injury, and help to improve your overall physique. In this article, we will be looking at six back isolation exercises that you can add into your routine.
Major Muscles of the Back
- Latissimus Dorsi (lats)
- Trapezius (traps)
- Erector spinae (lower back)
- Teres minor and major
- Internal and external obliques (core)
Due to the nature of the back, it is very difficult to find back exercises that are truly isolated. The following exercises are very close to being back-isolation exercises, but all will target one or two other muscles.
Seated Lower Back Extension
The lower back extension is a great exercise to strengthen the lower back muscles. Studies have shown that exercise can help to reduce non-specific chronic low back pain. This exercise will strengthen your lower back extensor muscles as well as the erector spinae muscles. This is a great exercise to help keep your back strong.
Back Extension Machine
How To Do:
Start by sitting on the back extension machine and set to the desired weight. Using your feet to push against the platform, slowly push your hips back and hold for a second and return back to the starting position.
Straight Arm Cable Pulldown
This is a great way to target your lats without using your biceps, there is some activation of the triceps, but many would still consider this a back isolation exercise.
Cable Station, straight-bar attachment
How To Do:
Place a straight bar attachment onto a cable station and grab hold of it with a wide grip. Straighten your arms, take a step forwards and push your chest out. Now what you want to do is pull the straight bar down in an arc until it is touching your hips. Keep your arms straight throughout. Pause, and then slowly raise your arms back upwards.
Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover
A bent-arm barbell pullover is a great multipurpose exercise for strengthening your upper back muscles. You can use this exercise at the beginning of your workout to warm-up or as a finishing exercise for your upper body workout. This exercise allows you to isolate the upper back muscles and will help you support your upper body in a neutral position.
Barbell, Flat Bench
How To Do:
Start by lying on the bench and placing the bar overhead, hold it with an underhand grip with your elbow bent at approximately 90 degrees. Next, while keeping your back extended, pull the bar down to your chest. Hold for a second before returning to starting position, repeat this movement for specified amount of reps.
Trap Bar Shrug
The trap bar shrug is a great exercise for strengthening Trapezius muscles. It is a great exercise for activating the upper traps and posterior deltoids. This is an often neglected muscle group that can help to stabilize the shoulder joint, rotate the head, and maintain posture.
How To Do:
Stand in the middle of the trap bar and grab on with a shoulder-width grip. Keeping your arms straight, raise the bar up in front of you until your arms are fully extended. Now shrug up with your shoulders so that they’re raised up towards the ceiling for each rep. Make sure that you don’t shrug too much or too little in order to complete each rep properly.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Of all the rows, the single-arm dumbbell row is the closest to a true back isolation exercise. Though it does still work the biceps. Single arm dumbbell rows are ideal for beginners as you can use relatively light weights, but advanced lifters will also benefit from them.
How to Do:
Stand beside a workout bench, place your left knee on the bench and your left hand at the top of the bench. At this point your right hip will probably be higher than your left hip, so lower it until your back is nice and flat. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand using a neutral grip.
Keeping your back straight, pull the dumbbell up towards your armpit. Keep your elbow close to your side throughout. Once your dumbbell is touching your torso, you can slowly lower it back down. Perform the required number of reps, and then swap over.
The superman is a great bodyweight back exercise. All you need is an exercise mat. Again, this is not a complete isolation as it will work the hamstrings and core slightly. But it really targets the lower back and upper back.
How to Do:
Lie on your front with your arms out in front of you and your body in a nice straight line. Raise your arms and legs up in the air simultaneously. Hold this for a second, and then slowly return to the starting position. Keep both arms and legs straight throughout.
By performing isolation exercises you are better able to target and strengthen just one muscle group. This can be extremely beneficial for those of you who are trying to focus on a particular muscle group. By doing an isolated exercise you can isolate the muscles that work together to complete a certain task and create an exercise that activates your target muscle group.
Isolation has many benefits and is very easy to do. It is a great way to increase your strength in a particular area of the body. Isolation exercises also have great value when it comes to rehabilitation from an injury or surgery that has created muscle imbalances.
Many people perform isolation exercises without even realizing it because many of the exercises they do target a specific muscle group during their workout, and that is why those exercises are so effective.
Of all the muscles, the upper and lower back muscles are the hardest to truly isolate. Almost all back exercises require your arms to perform some of the lift. If not your arms, then it is usually your legs, and you will often get your core muscles involved too.
As such, the exercises on this list have been chosen as they are the closest thing to a true back isolation exercise possible.
Isolation exercises are great for building muscles and strengthening your body. They increase your muscular endurance and work on the muscles that you need to improve upon. Most are very easy to do, and anyone can do them.
You can incorporate these into your daily routine by doing them at home or at the gym, with something as simple as a dumbbell or even just your own bodyweight. These isolation exercises can really help to improve the way you look and feel about yourself by using them regularly.