Lower back exercises are essential to making any back shot really effective

Bodybuilder doing closed-grip chinsClose-Grip Chins


Purpose: To work the back muscles, widen the lower lats, and develop the serratus. This exercise is great for widening and lengthening the appearance of the lats. It also develops the serratus anterior, those little fingers of muscles that lie under the outside of the pecs, which add so much to front poses such as double-biceps or any other overhead pose. 

Execution: 1) Take hold of the chinning bar (or close-grip triangle device found in many gyms) with your hands close together, one hand on either side of the bar. Hang below the bar. 2) Then pull yourself up while leaning your head slightly so that the chest touches (or nearly touches) your hands; lower the body slowly for a full stretch of the lats. Work for the fullest range of motion. 

Schwarzenegger doing close or medium grip pulldownsClose- Or Medium-Grip Pulldowns

More lower back exercises...


Purpose: To work the lats, especially the lower lat area. Working with an overhead cable and weight stack allows you to do the chinning movement with less than body weight.

Execution: 1) Grasp the handles or a bar using a narrow- or medium- close grip and pull down to your upper chest. Don't sway backward, but try to concentrate on using the lats to do the movement. 2) Draw the shoulders down and back and stick the chest out. Let the handles go upward again until your lats are fully stretched out. 

Schwarzenegger doing one-arm cable rowsOne-Arm Cable Rows


Purpose: To develop the lower lats. This is an especially good movement for tying in the lower lats to the waist. 

Execution: 1) Using a floor-level pulley, take hold of a handle with one hand. If done standing, assume a balanced stance, the leg opposite the arm you will be using in the exercise forward, other leg back (This can also be done while seated). Begin with your arm fully extended in front of you; you may even want to twist your hand inward so that the thumb is lower than the little finger to create the fullest possible stretch. 2) Pull the handle back by your side as far as you can, twisting your hand outward so that the thumb ends up on the outside, feeling the back muscles contract. Release and extend your arm and twist your wrist back to starting position. Complete your repetitions, then repeat the exercise using the other arm. The secret to success doing One-Arm Cable Rows is range of motion. When you pull the cable, bring your elbow as far back as possible- which is a lot farther than you can go doing regular Cable Rows. Also, as you release and lower the weight again, make sure you stretch your arms and lats as far as possible. 

Schwarzenegger doing seated cable rowsSeated Cable Rows


Purpose: To develop the thickness of the back and the lower lats. This movement also works the lower sections of the lats. 

Execution: 1) Take hold of the handles and sit with your feet braced against the crossbar or a wooden block, knees slightly bent. Extend your arms and bend forward slightly, feeling the lats stretch. You should be situated far enough away from the weight stack so that you can stretch like this without the weight touched the bottom. 2) From this beginning position, pull the handles back toward your body and touch them to your abdomen, feeling the back muscles doing most of the work. Your back should arch, your chest stick out, and try to touch the shoulder blades together as you draw the weight toward you. Don't involve the lower back muscles by swaying forward and back. When the handles touch your abdomen, you should be sitting upright, not leaning backward. Keeping the weight under control, release and let the handles go forward again, once more stretching out the lats. 

Man doing bent-arm pullovers with barbellBent-Arm Pullovers with Barbell


Purpose: To work the lower lats and serratus. It also stretches the pectorals and helps widen the rib cage. 

Execution: 1) Lie on your back along a flat bench. Place a barbell (or an E-Z curl bar) on the floor behind your head. Reach back and grasp the bar. 2) Keep your arms bent, raise the bar and bring it just over your head to your chest. Lower the bar slowly back to the starting position without touching the floor, feeling the lats stretch out to their fullest. When using a heavy weight for this movement, I have someone sit on my knees to stabilize me so that I can put all my effort into lifting the bar. 

More lower back exercises on page 2, click here. 

› Lower Back Exercises
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