Your back muscles constitute an important part of your upper body strength, and since they’re so large, they contribute a significant portion to the overall power in your body. Back strength is associated mostly with lifting a pulling. If you participate in any grappling sports like wrestling and jiu-jitsu, pulling strength is one of your most important assets. If you’re a mixed martial artist that prefers to stand and strike, you’re still going to need power in your back to hinder grapplers from smothering you.
The tricky part about strengthening your back is that it’s such a large area with so many muscles. You need to do workouts that stimulate your upper back as well as your lower back. Your upper back will contribute the most to your pulling strength, while your lower back will help with your lifting.
Here’s a great workout that will get your back stronger:
1) Wide Grip Pull Ups
Wide grip pull ups are great for building strong lats. Grip the pull up bar with both hands wider than your shoulders and your palms facing forward. Cross your legs and bend your knees slightly; this will help keep your body stationary during the lift. Exhale as you lift your body up. Lift until your chin is over the bar, then briefly hold the position before inhaling and slowly going down. Go down until your arms are fully extended again. It’s important that you don’t swing your hips and back during this exercise. If you’re not strong enough to do a pull up, don’t worry. Do lat pulldowns on a machine where you can adjust the weight until you develop the strength to do pull ups. Try three sets of twelve to fifteen.
Deadlifts stimulate all of your back, as well as your legs and arms. Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart. While bending over to pick up the barbell, you should be sitting back with your hips and keeping your arms straight. The grip you use is up to you. You can either use the overhand grip, or one overhand and one underhand. Exhale while pushing your hips forward to stand up by driving through your heels. Once you’ve stood up, shrug your shoulders back and thrust your hips forward to the bar. Inhale as you slowly lower the bar by pushing your hips back while keeping your back straight. If this is your first time doing this exercise, use light weight. Try three sets of twelve to fifteen.
3) Bent Over Barbell Rows
This is a great workout for the middle of your back. Start by slightly bending your knees and using the overhand grip to grasp the bar. Pick the bar up and lean your torso forward while keeping your back straight and your head up. Keep your knees slightly bent. This will be your starting position. Lift the barbell to your lower chest while exhaling. You should keep your elbows close to your body and your back straight the entire time. Your body should be stationary during this lift. Once you’ve lifted the barbell to your lower chest, hold that position briefly and squeeze your back muscles before inhaling and slowly lowering the barbell back to the starting position. If this exercise is too difficult for you, do one-arm dumbbell rows on a bench instead. Try three sets of twelve to fifteen.
4) Hyper Extensions
Hyper extensions mainly target the muscles in your lower back. Position yourself on a hyper extension bench with your feet securely tucked in the foot pads. Be sure to adjust the upper pad to allow you to bend your hips with ease. If you’re holding a weight plate, hold it to your chest with your arms crossed over it. If you’re not using a weight, then you can either cross your arms in front of your chest, or put your hands behind your head. It’s up to you. Inhale as you lean forward as far as you can, and then exhale as you rise back up to the starting position. Try three sets of fifteen.