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Guide To Back Muscles: Anatomy, Common Pain and Best Exercises


Your back muscles support you your entire life. This is the quite literal sense. Healthy back muscles are a prerequisite for a fast-paced and pain-free life.

We have all experienced back pain once in our lifetime.

That striking and chronic pain in our back that literally leaves us unable to do anything. The best way to prevent this is by working out your back muscles.


See, there are a lot of functions that your back is responsible for. If you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you know the importance of a strong back. A strong back can help you move effortlessly all day.

Before we leap into back exercises, learning about the different muscles in your back makes you aware enough to be health-conscious on a daily basis.

Not only do you know how to work them out, but you are also aware of the importance of it as well.

This is the first step to maintaining a healthy back, knowing what needs to be done and how.

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Anatomy of Back Muscles

Back muscles are divided into two parts: extrinsic and intrinsic. Since learning anatomy is not your primary objective, this is a conceptual view of the back muscles.


The back muscles start from the top of your spine all the way down to your lower back. You may have about the importance of posture, its because back muscles are supporting your spine. Your spine needs to stay straight all of the time, not slouched as that leads to chronic back pain.

The muscles in your upper back are called the trapezius and rhomboids rest underneath your traps. Then you have the latissimus dorsi which is the widest muscle in your back. Underneath your shoulders, you have teres major and minor. And you have spinal erectors to further support the spine.

These are your back muscles. However, they are supported by other muscles that aren’t necessarily situated in the back. For example, your six-pack and oblique muscles help in stabilizing your spine. These muscles collectively work together to lift, pull, and carry.

Having healthy back muscles helps in daily activities. Growing your back muscles helps build strength, a powerful body frame, and a muscular upper body.

Ignoring your back muscles tends to leave you in pain, a nagging pain that doesn’t go away easily.

Common Pain Due To Weak Back Muscles

As we grow older, natural wear and tear of the human body lead to an array of health concerns. One of the most common health problems is back pain. As you get older, you increase your chance of getting lower back pain.

We could say it’s a manufacturing fault or a symptom of old-age. Back pain can be due to weak muscles, lack of exercise, arthritis, or injuries. Some of the most frequent causes of back pain are: muscle spasms, the tension in muscles, damaged or slipped disks, strained muscles/ligaments, injuries, falls, and fractures.


Your spine is a collection of well-stacked disks. If any of these disks were to be damaged, then it can lead to permanent damage to your spine. Damages done to your spine or disks can lead to rupture disks, sciatica, bulging disks, arthritis, and abnormal curvature of the spine.

If you still have chronic back pain and it’s not because you are old or have damaged your spine in any way, then it can be due to your posture.

Sitting for long periods, straining your neck while working at the desk, slouching, muscle tension, staying hunched for too long, and even sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t support your body can all lead to chronic back pain.

If these factors are a part of your daily life then you are at higher risk for developing back pain.

The factors are:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of physical fitness
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Strenuous physical work or labor
  • Genetic factors
  • Medical conditions like cancer or arthritis
  • Old age

The up-side is with proper exercise and lifestyle changes, you can minimize chronic back pain.

Best Back Exercises 

There are numerous exercises you can do to work your back muscles. The best advice is to make it part of your workout routine. Dedicating a day for back workout can help you build and maintain strong muscles.

Working your back muscles also increases blood flow which reduces stiffness and quickens the healing process.

These back exercises are dividing into two categories. There are bodyweight back exercises for you to work back muscles anywhere without the need of equipment. Or, you can load up on serious back muscles with intense movements. We’ve got both.

Body Weight Exercises For Back Muscles

  1.       Knee-to-chest Stretches:

 This movement works the lower back muscles. It is a really simple stretch that works your back muscles. You can crank out a lot of repetitions with this easy body movement, but this works more for stretching than a proper exercise.


  • Lie on your back
  • Keep your body straight
  • Now, use both of your hands to pull one knee upwards to your chest
  • Hold this stretch for at least 5 seconds
  • Next, lower your knee and repeat with the other knee
Source: Medical News Today
  1.       Supermans

This back exercise targets your back extensors. These muscles help support your spine. Supermans can also help counter pain that comes from bad posture. 

Do 3 sets with 10 repetitions.


  • Lie face down
  • Next, stretch your arms out
  • Now, go into flight mode by lifting your legs off the ground and arms straight up
  • Keep your head straight and support yourself from your belly
  • Hold this position for a few seconds
Source: Medical News Today
  1.       Bridges

This exercise works on your lower back muscles. It a movement that requires the collective involvement of your back and buttocks. This is another easy to-do back exercise that really helps fight chronic pain.

Do 3 sets with 15 repetitions and try to complete the set in under a minute.


  • Lie down on your back
  • Now, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground
  • Next, lift your buttocks up until your body becomes straight
  • Hold this position by squeezing your buttocks
  • Lower yourself down and start again
Source: Medical News Today


Weight Exercises For Back Muscles

  1.       Power Band Pull Apart

Power bands are great for quick and effective workouts. This is a simple exercise that requires minimal space and time. Choose a powerband of appropriate strength and stick with 3 reps of 12 to 15 repetitions.


  • Hold the ends of the power band in each arm in front of your chest
  • Now keep your back and arms straight
  • Next, squeeze your shoulder blades and pull the band apart
  • The movement should be slow
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  1.       Row

You can row with dumbbells or barbells. There are so many different variations of rows for each equipment. You need to incorporate a few variations of rows in your back workout.

This is a single-arm dumbbell row. This is a good variation of the row and a staple back exercise for mass and strength. You should do 3 sets with 12 repetitions.


  • Rest one knee and one hand on the bend
  • With the other hand, grab a dumbbell
  • Now, row the dumbbell by squeezing your shoulder blade
  • Bring back your elbow until your hand is parallel with your body
  • Lower down slowly for a complete repetition
  1.       Deadlift

This is a classical exercise for strong back muscles. It works your lower back, hamstrings and erector spinae muscles.

Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.


  • Stand shoulder-width apart with the barbell in front of you
  • Now, keep your chest tilted upwards, bend your knees and grab the barbell
  • Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire movement
  • Once you grab the barbell, push upwards until you come back into the starting position

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