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5 best barbell exercises for a strong back

April 06 2022 6 min read

It can be difficult to convince yourself to train an area of your body that you can’t see. After all, if you can’t see the development, why would you choose to train your back over your arms or abs?

Well, there are actually a number of benefits to strong back muscles. Not only will you improve your posture and reduce your risk of injury, but you’ll also be giving yourself a much greater source of strength for performing big lifts in the gym.

The stronger your back is, the more stable your shoulders will be - meaning you’ll be able to lift more weight in your chest and upper body exercises. Plus, most back exercises require your arms or legs too, so you’ll squeeze in some extra training without even noticing.

To get you started on your path to a jacked back, we’ve listed our top 5 exercises for building strong back muscles, with a barbell being the only piece of equipment you’ll need!


  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your arms at a 45-degree angle from the sides of your body and no bend in your elbows
  • Stand tall and squeeze the bar into your thighs while pulling your shoulder blades together - this is your starting position 
  • Hinge at the hips and lower the bar to just above your knee
  • Slowly return to the starting position while keeping the bar close to your body throughout


  • Grab the barbell with a shoulder-width grip and place it in front of you with the bar across the top of your shoulders
  • Raise your upper arms until they are parallel with the floor, allowing the bar to roll back and rest on your fingertips
  • Keep your elbows high and lower your body by pushing back your hips and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor
  • Push your body back up to the starting position by driving up through your legs


  • Position the bar across the back of your shoulders in the same way you would to squat
  • Grip the bar tightly with both hands and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Take a deep breath and tighten your core
  • Break at your hips and continue to push them back until your torso is almost perpendicular to the floor
  • Keep your shins vertical and your knees slightly bent throughout 
  • Push your hips forward to drive back up to the starting position and exhale when you reach the top of the movement


  • Load the barbell to an appropriate weight and roll the bar back until it reaches your shins
  • Bend at your knees and hips and grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Keeping your lower back arched, pull your torso up and thrust your hips forward as you stand up with the barbell
  • Lower the bar back down to the floor in a controlled movement


  • Grab the barbell using an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Hinge at your hips and knees and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor
  • Keeping your back naturally arched, pull the bar to your upper abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Pause before slowly lowering the bar back to the starting position in a controlled movement

If you’re new to weightlifting and are feeling a little lost, check out our ultimate weightlifting jargon buster to learn everything you’ll need to get started.

We understand that not everyone has time to plan a full gym session, which is why we developed our 10-Minute Workouts. Try out Barbell Hell for a way to squeeze in an intense barbell workout in just 10 minutes!

For more helpful information on fitness, nutrition and workout plans, head over to Inside Track for more expert tips.