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Back exercises for beginners

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If you're new to the gym and want to build your upper body strength but you're not sure where to start, try these beginner-friendly back exercises demonstrated by our PureGym Insiders @peterpuregym and @kaypuregym.

Beginner-friendly back workout

Make sure to warm up properly before you perform this workout.

Lat pull down (wide overhand grip) 8-10 reps. 3 sets. 1 min rest. 

  1. Facing the lat pull down machine, grab the pull down bar with your palms facing forward at a grip outside of shoulder-width. Sit with the knee pads at a comfortable height.
  2. Engage your lat muscle by drop your shoulders down, then squeeze your shoulder blades to pull the bar towards the top of your chest whilst leaning slight back.
  3. Slowly return the bar to starting position. Don't let the weight crash into the plates.

Seated cable rows 8-10 reps. 3 sets. 1 min rest.

  1. Attach the V-shaped handle to the cable if this is not set up already. Sit facing the cable machine with feet placed firmly on the foot placements.
  2. Extend your arms to reach the v-bar. Hold the bar with palms facing each other. 
  3. Draw the handle in towards your stomach by squeezing your back muscles whilst keeping a nice straight back and shoulders down. 
  4. Slowly return the handle starting position. Try to avoid using momentum to draw the bar into your stomach. 

Rear delt flyes (using incline bench) 8-10 reps. 3 sets. 1 min rest.

  1. Set up the bench at an incline (around 15-30 degrees). 
  2. Sit facing an incline bench with your stomach and chest leaning against the incline, with feet on the floor.
  3. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other (neutral grip).
  4. Keeping your elbow relaxed, raise the dumbbells away from your sides until they are about shoulder height. Squeeze your shoulder blades and hold for one second.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

One-arm dumbbell row 8-10 reps each side. 3 sets. 1 min rest.

  1. Check the bench height is laid flat and not at an incline. 
  2. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and place the left leg on the top of the end of the bench. Bend over and put your left arm on the bench for support, keeping your back nice and straight.
  3. Pull the dumbbell to the side of your chest, keeping your arms close to your side. Focus on squeezing the back muscles. Pause.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Finish the workout with a cool down and some light stretching targeting your upper body.

If you are not sure how to perform any of these exercises, ask a personal trainer for guidance.

For more exercises to work your upper body check out Exercise guide.

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