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What Workout Machines Work Your Back?

author image Jeffrey Nichols
Jeffrey Nichols has been writing and editing since 1997. His work has appeared in the "Manassas (Va.) Journal Messenger" as well as daily publications in Pennsylvania and Illinois, covering sports, recreation, health and fitness, along with business and finance. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree and enjoys writing everything from practical articles to fiction.
What Workout Machines Work Your Back?
Lat pulldowns are an important part of any back workout program. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images


Back exercises should be a regular part of any weightlifting program. A stronger back helps your posture and may prevent or reduce nagging lower back pain. For bodybuilders, back workouts substantially boost the overall muscularity and thickness of the upper body. While free weight exercises certainly aid in the muscular development of your back, various machines can also help in the process.

Lat Pulldown

This exercise zeroes in on your latissimus dorsi, the primary muscle in your upper back. Sit under the bar and and place your knees underneath the pads for stability. Reach up and grab the bar with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Lean back slightly and smoothly pull down the bar until it touches the top of your chest. Keep the bar in front of you during the motion; pulling it down behind your neck may cause neck and shoulder strains.

Seated Rows

Row machines also strengthen your lats. Sitting in front of the pulley, place your feet against the block. Reach forward and grab the bar, and pull it toward you until it grazes your abdomen. Keep your back straight as you perform the set. Rocking back to complete a repetition will diminish the effectiveness of the exercise, and may injure your lower back. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you row to gain maximum contraction of your lats.

T-Bar Rows

T-Bars generally utilize barbell weight plates, but the mechanism for lifting the weight is a machine. Stand on the base and lean forward at the waist, pressing your chest against the pad. Grab the T-Bar and, bending your arms, pull the bar back until it touches your ribcage. Upon lowering the bar, keep it a few inches off the base of the machine to ensure you exert your muscles throughout the duration of the set.

Assisted Pullups

Many gyms have assisted pullup machines that are useful if you struggle to complete a set of standard pullups. Stand on the machine's assistance lever, grab the overhead grips as you would for a standard pullup and pull yourself up until your chin is slightly above your hands. The higher the weight you select on the machine, the easier the pull-up will be. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. and select 50 lbs. on the machine, you will lift 100 lbs. of body weight on your own as opposed to 150 lbs. with no assistance. Some machines have a padded platform to kneel on rather than a bar to stand on.

Back Extension

This machine targets the erector spinae muscles in your lower back. It can be a valuable part of a core workout program. Sit down and adjust the height of the back pad so it presses against the middle of your shoulder blades. Push the pad backward as far as you can and then slowly lean forward to the starting position. To avoid injury, make sure to remain under control when returning to the starting position. Too heavy a weight may cause you to jerk forward, which you want to avoid.

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