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Best Back Exercises

The Best Back Toning and Back Strengthening Exercises to Add to Your Back Workouts

Welcome to our Best Back Exercises list!

We've done all the pulls, rows, and deadlifts from our Back Exercises Main Page to bring you this list of the best back toning and back strengthening exercises.


Your back muscles cover a large area. That's why we separated our back exercises into the following pages:

Here you'll find the five best back exercises chosen from the all inclusive list. In choosing the top five back exercises, we looked for compound exercises that allow you to pile on weight and place the most stress on your back muscles. We also only chose weight training exercises that could be performed in most standard gyms.

Top 5 Best Back Exercises

5. Power Clean

We'll counting down starting with number five and ending with the best exercise.

The Power Clean is easily one the best weight training exercises for any fitness goal. Not only is it one of the best back exercises, but it narrowly missed making our Best Leg Exercises as well. In all it calls on your hamstrings, calves, forearms, glutes, lower back, quadriceps, shoulders, traps, and upper back to complete a rep.

  • Why it made the list: The Power clean is arguably the most athletic exercise you can add to your workout routines. As you do power cleans, you execute a deadlift and a row within the lift and keep stress on your major back muscles while returning to the starting position. Not only that, but as listed above, you'll call on several different muscle groups and be able to pile on weight when you get comfortable with executing the motion.
  • Need More Info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips please view our Power Clean Exercise Instruction Guide.
  • Variations: There aren't many lifts that are complete upper body and lower body exercises and give you a workout like power cleans. Try Dumbbell Power Cleans, Hang Cleans, and the Clean and Press Exercise.


4. Barbell Bent Over Row

Barbell Bent Over Rows can also be referred to as Barbell Rows or Rear Deltoid Rows. Whatever you want to call it, the bent over row is one of the Best Back Exercises for building muscle mass or burning body fat. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your back straight and in a fixed position to reap all the benefits of the lift.

  • Why it made the list: Like most row variations, barbell rows targets your lats and upper back muscles as well as your biceps and shoulders. Barbell rows specifically allow you to pile on more weight and force you to use your lower back muscles as well to stabilize your body throughout the lift and remain upright.
  • Need More Info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips please view our Bent Over Row Exercise Instruction Guide.
  • Variations: Rows are one of the standard movements used to work your back muscles. There are many different variations listed on our upper back exercises page such as Dumbbell Upright Rows, Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows, Seated Cable Rows, and many others.


bent over row bent over row

3. Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell Rows: As listed above, rows are one of the standard movements used to work your major back muscles. We typically prefer barbell exercises to dumbbell exercises whenever possible but we ranked Dumbbell Rows slightly higher than the Bent Over Row on this list. Why?

  • Why it made the list: While doing Dumbbell Rows, you stabilize your body with the inactive arm not performing the row. Because you're not forced to use your lower back muscles and legs to stabilize your body, you're able to use more weight per side than you can with the Bent Over Row (2x individual dumbbell weight). If your goal is building muscle mass and thickness in your upper back, Dumbbell Rows are more beneficial in our opinion. But hey, why not put both in your back workouts?
  • Need More Info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips please view our Dumbbell Rows Exercise Instruction Guide.
  • Variations: Rows are one of the standard movements used to work your back muscles. There are many different variations listed on our upper back exercises page such as Dumbbell Upright Rows, Reverse Grip Bent Over Rows, Seated Cable Rows, and many others.
dumbbell rows dumbbell rows

2. Pull Ups

Pull Ups are one of the most popular and most beneficial body weight exercises you can add to your back workouts. They are one of the truest tests of a person's functional strength.


1. Barbell Deadlifts

When you look around the gym, unfortunately it looks like deadlifts have become a "dead lift." Barbell Deadlifts or one of our other deadlifts variations should be included in nearly all weight training programs because of their benefits.

Like most of our deadlifts, this compound exercise is a great exercise to lose weight or gain muscle mass.

  • Need More Info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips please view our Barbell Deadlift Exercise Instruction Guide.
  • Variations: View our Deadlifts page for all of the variations to this important weight training exercise.

Deadlifts Deadlifts

Well there you have it! Each of the absolute best back exercises to add to your weight training routines.

Now that you've learned the best back exercises, check out our other "Best Exercises" pages and other related pages below.

Other "Best Exercises" pages:

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