The Top 5 Compound Back Exercises

You might know that exercising your back is super important, but do you know the functions that having a strong back helps with? The back muscles are what help you twist your torso, keep a stable spine, and even assist with moving your arms down and in. 

Basically - it's a good idea to train them, and train them well. When you build the muscles on your back, you can also expect more stability for intense moves like bench pressing and deadlifts. 

To help you get the most from your workouts, we've put together some of the best compound moves that will help you see results and also become better with isolation exercises.

With that - Let's Begin!

5 Compound Back Moves to Strengthen and Build.

The back muscles are a pretty big muscle group, and it can be tough trying to figure out where to start. Don't sweat it - here's some killer moves to include in your next workout sesh.

1. Dumbbell Bent Over Rows

The dumbbell row is a a different take on the bent over row, and engages your upper back muscles. Rows are a foundational movement pattern that uses compound moves to help balance the growth of supporting muscles that surround the large ones.

  • To Perform this Move:
    • Stand hip width apart while holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
    • Hinge forward until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor (or slightly above) and then begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while retracting the shoulder blades.
    • Pull the dumbbells towards your body until the elbows are at your midline and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
    • Repeat 15 times.

    2. Pull Ups

    A classic back move, the pull-up targets both your back and your core due to the need to stabilize your body weight as your perform the move. Your muscles will respond to the load of your body, more or less depending on how heavy you are.

    • To Perform this Move:
      • Jump up and grip the bar with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Hang with your arms fully extended, you can bend your legs at the knee if they’re dragging on the ground.
      • Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged throughout. Then pull up. Focus on enlisting every upper body muscle to aid the upward motion.
      • Move up slowly until your chin is above the bar, then equally slowly downward until your arms are extended again.

      3. Dead Stop Bent Over Rows

      This row is unique, as it uses a power rack/weighted bar for resistance instead of the more common use of dumbbells. The pause at the top prevents you from using momentum in the exercise, therefor encouraging the use of your muscles alone.

      • To Perform this Move:
        • Hinge forward until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor (or slightly above) and grasp the bar using a double overhand grip.
        • Begin the movement by driving the elbows behind the body while retracting the shoulder blades.
        • Pull the bar towards your center until it touches your body and then slowly lower the bar back down.
        • Repeat 8 times.

      4. Inverted Rows with :02 Pause at Top

        For those who may struggle with back pain or instability, the inverted row is a great option due to how little stress there is on your spine. It engages your back, core, and your glutes in order to keep proper form and perform the move well.

        • To Perform this Move:
          • Stand in front of a squat rack.
          • Set the bar to the desired setting. Start with waist height. This will allow your arms to fully extend while keeping your body off the floor.
          • Get under the bar and lie down, to where you're facing the ceiling.
          • Reach up for the bar. Your arms should be fully extended so you can grab the bar with an overhand grip. Your body will be suspended or just off the floor, with your heels being the only thing in contact with the floor.
          • Contract your core muscles and glutes to brace the lower back and keep your body in a straight line from your torso to your feet.
          • Pull yourself up, leading with your chest. The bar should be at chest height at the top of the movement. Keep your body straight and glutes and core tight throughout the entire movement. The bar doesn’t need to touch your chest. Get it as close as possible.
          • Pause for 2 seconds and retract your shoulders before slowly lowering to the starting position, with your arms fully extended.
          • Repeat 10 times.

        5. Banded Seated Low Rows

          Incorporating the use of bands, the seated low row tones and strengthens your upper body, which is essential for everyday movements, including pulling. This compound move engages your upper back and arms, helping you build mass and better your posture.

          • To Perform this Move:
            • Sit upright on the ground with legs extended forward and slightly out. Extend your arms and hold the band. Move your shoulders back and down. Brace your core.
            • As you exhale, bend your elbows to pull the band towards you, keeping your elbows tucked in and your back neutral.
            • Inhale and slowly extend your arms.
            • Repeat 20 times.