Most people know the gym is the place to be to build muscle all over your body. But what are some gym machines specifically for back muscles?
There are plenty of reasons to improve your back muscles. Back muscles burn a lot of calories, they are generally considered to be aesthetically pleasing, they can help you prevent back pain, improve posture, and more.
How heavy you should set the resistance on these gym machines varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure which weight would be right for you, you can start with light a light setting to get the technique right and slowly build up from there.
That being said here are 10 gym machines you can use to get bigger and stronger back muscles for everyone from beginners to people with a lot of resistance training experience.
1. Lat pulldown machine
The lat pulldown machine is a type of gym machine where you sit down with your thighs secured under thigh pads. You then pull down a bar attached to a cable, weight, and pulley system. This engages your lats, also known as your latissimus dorsi muscle.
The standard lat pulldown is with your hands on the bar at about shoulder width and your hand palms facing down. After that pull down the bar by folding your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Once the bar reaches your chest let it go back to its starting position in a controlled motion.
By changing your hand grip you engage slightly different muscles. For example, by facing your hand palms up you focus more on your bicep muscles.
By putting your hands further apart you focus more on your back muscles, putting them closer together focuses more on your biceps.
Since this list focuses on strengthening back muscles and not on toning arms, you want to do the lat pulldown with a pronated grip (hand palms pointing down) and your hands at about shoulder-width or slightly wider.
2. Roman chair
The roman chair is a type of fitness equipment that comes down to two pads, one elevated to lean on with your hip/back/upper legs, and one closer to the ground to keep your feet in place.
For strengthening your back, the back extension exercise will be the main way to use the roman chair.
To do this exercise take place on the roman chair facing downwards with your hips on the pad and your ankles behind the foot support. Make sure your ankle and hips are in a stable position and let your upper body hang downwards.
Slowly raise your upper body until it is in a straight line. After that, lower your upper body in a controlled motion into the starting position.
This roman chair exercise will help you train lower back muscles like your erector spinae and glutes. It is possible that the regular bodyweight back extension is not challenging enough for you.
In that case, you can also carry external weights like a weight plate, dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells, etc. while doing this exercise.
3. Seated low row machine
The seated low row machine is a type of gym machine where you sit down with your feet on sloping pads to brace yourself against the resistance caused by the weights. You then pull a handle attached to a cable, weight, and pulley system, toward your body. This mainly engages your lats, also known as your latissimus dorsi, muscle.
Generally, this gym machine has a handle that puts your hands close to each other. Grab this handle and take place in the seat with your legs slightly less than stretched and a straight back.
You then pull the handle toward your stomach while keeping your back straight and your upper arms close to your body.
Once the handle reaches your chest let it go back to its starting position in a controlled motion. Make sure you have the right technique down before using very heavy weights.
4. Endless rope pull machine
The endless rope pull machine is simply a machine that simulates pulling a very long rope. Some models come with a seat, others require you to stand up. Both types can be used to work out your back muscles.
To work out your back muscles you preferably want the upper pulley to be at about shoulder/chest height. If the height is non-adjustable you want to keep your back straight or lean back a little. You want to stay at a similar angle whether you are seated or not.
Once you are in a position like that, you simply start pulling the rope like you would do with a normal rope. This comes down to your hands alternately pulling the rope down. Pay attention to your posture when doing this exercise.
5. Assisted pull-up machine
Pull-ups are a very popular exercise and for a good reason. They are a great way to work out a wide variety of muscles, including your back muscles.
An issue some people have is that regular bodyweight pull-ups are currently too challenging. An assisted pull-up machine is a piece of gym equipment that is made to resolve this issue.
This machine allows you to take place on a platform with an adjustable counterweight that lifts you up. The platform alleviates some of your body weight that would otherwise end up making the pull-up more challenging.
If regular pull-ups are too easy for you already, you may want to consider weighted pull-ups on a regular pull-up bar instead.
6. Pullover machine
The pullover machine simulates a dumbbell pullover but in machine form with a bigger range of motion. This movement allows you to work out your back lat muscles without your biceps being involved.
This machine looks like a seat where you can point your upper arms upward and put them being pads with resistance.
The next step is pushing these pads down until your upper arms are pointing down. After that, you raise your arms back into starting position in a controlled motion.
Even though it can be very effective, the pullover machine is not the most popular back machine there is. This means your local gym may not have this machine available.
If this is the case, you can also give the regular dumbbell pullover with a weight bench a try.
7. T-bar row
The T-bar row is a type of machine where one bar is anchored to the ground behind you. At the other end of the bar you can attach weights.
This exercise gets its name from the shape the bar has because of the horizontal handle at the end.
To do this exercise you start standing up over the bar which is between your legs with your back to the ground anchor point. Pick the weight off the ground by using your legs while keeping your back straight.
Get in a position where your legs are slightly bent, your back straight at about a 45-degree angle or more to a vertical line, and your arms stretched.
Pull the bar toward your body as far as comfortable while keeping your back straight and upper arms close to your body. After that, lower the bar in a controlled motion until your arms are stretched. If you don’t feel your back muscles fatiguing your technique is not optimal.
8. Low hammer strength row
The low hammer strength row machine is a piece of fitness equipment where you sit on a seat with a chest pad to brace yourself against. It has two handles you can load different weights on if you would like to.
This can be helpful for resolving muscle imbalances.
Before you use this gym machine adjust the settings so you can do the movement in a way that targets your back muscles.
The movement for this machine is pulling the handles toward you until they are at the height of your body. The movement is similar to the regular low row.
Your upper arms need to stay close to your body to really target your middle back. If this is not the case you want to adjust the machine settings.
9. Chest supported row machine
The chest supported row machine is a machine where your chest can rest on a support pad to brace against the resistance. On top of that, it has two handles you can load different weights on if you would like to.
The chest pad allows you to work out your back muscles without having to pay as much attention to your posture as some of the other machines on this list.
Keeping your back straight can be a challenge during rowing exercises, especially with heavier weights.
10. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
Some of the previous machines could be described as cable machines but with very one-sided functions. You can also do a variety of back exercises with a regular cable machine.
One example of a back exercise you can do with the cable machine is the straight arm pulldown. To do this exercise you want any grip you can hold with two hands with the pulley as high as possible. Stand with your face toward the cable machine.
Put your feet at about shoulder width, grab the handle with your hands at about shoulder-width, and lean forward to about a 45-degree angle to a vertical line.
Your arms should be moderately less than fully aligned with your upper body. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
While keeping the rest of your body in the same position move down your arms until your upper arms are beside your upper body. After that raise your arms in a controlled motion until they are back in the previous position.