The Back Row

The Back RowA key movement that helps to strengthen your upper body, specifically the muscles of your back is The Back Row. The action of pulling resistance towards your torso and contracting the muscles of the back is an action that is mimicked in many day to day actions such as lifting objects, pull heavy objects and carrying loads.

The Muscles of the Back

The back row activates muscles in the shoulder joint that are important in all actions that require pulling inward when the arms are in front of the body. There are five major muscles involved in the back row.
1. Latissimus dorsi
This muscle is located on the upper sides and lower half of the back and is used to extend and adduct the upper arms and bring the arms behind the body
2. Teres minor
This muscle is located on the upper sides of the back and assists in extension and adduction of the upper arms
3. Posterior deltoid
This muscle is located at the back part of the three headed muscle that covers the shoulder and is used to extend arms backward at the shoulder joints
4. Trapezius
This is the large diamond shaped muscle that is located in them middle of the upper back. It’s adducts the scapulae (brings the shoulder blades together)
5. Rhomboid
This muscle is located in the upper – middle back, underneath the trapezius and adducts the scapulae


To begin straighten your back and bend forward at your hips with knees slightly bent. Grasp a weighted bar with a pronated grip (palms facing the floor), positioning your hands shoulder with apart.

Inhale and hold your breath as you pull the bar toward your midsection while keeping your elbows near your sides.

Pull your elbows as far behind your body as possible for maximum contraction.

Hold the peak contraction for 1-2 seconds, exhale and return to the start position. Keep your torso erect throughout the movement.

By focusing on the muscle that is being worked and making every effort to squeeze and think about what you are doing rather then just simply going through the motions you will find you get far more out of the exercise and it will benefit your strength goals tremendously.

Allow your arms to stretch and your shoulder blades to relax before repeating for reps.

This is an important point, by allowing the weight to stretch out your back muscles you are taking them to their most stretched state. Doing this and going through the full range of motion, stretching at the bottom to contracting tightly at the top, promotes flexibility of that particular muscle. Flexibility is key in the golf swing, and is a vital component in the swing particularly in the back muscles.


Concentrate on pulling back with your latissimus dorsi and rear delts as opposed to your lower back. Try to prevent your back from rounding as your lean forward and/ or hyperextending as you pull back, both of which exert exceptionally high forces on your spinal discs that can cause serious pain or injury.

Be carefull not to let your biceps dominate the pull, which decreases the overall effectiveness of the exercise.

Maintain an erect torso throughout the entire motion. Leaning forward or backward no more than 10 degrees.

To achieve peak contraction squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull your elbows back as far as possible

Holding your breath during the pulling action helps to stabilize your torso and facilitates greater muscular force so you can handle heavier weights.

Concentrate on isometically contracting your erector spinae muscles to maintain the normal curvature of the spine.


Perform the back row as one of the first movements for your routine and follow this exercise with wide-grip lat pull-downs or straight-arm pull-downs to the front. Do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

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The Contributor

John Graham began personal training in California, where he earned his Master Personal Fitness Trainer Certification from the prestigious International Sports Sciences Association. He has been based in Shenzhen for over 5 years, introducing his knowledge and experience in international fitness techniques and increasing awareness of the latest fitness methodologies. Known for his unique passion and understanding of body dynamics and exercise, and his extensive knowledge of performance nutrition, John’s training programs ensure a well rounded approach to fitness.

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