8 Back Workouts With Barbell

8 Back Workouts With Barbell


January 22, 2022

The back is one part of the body that’s easy to neglect when it comes to training. However, developing strong back muscles offer great benefits, especially when you are using an excellent training tool like a barbell.

First, it improves your posture so your overall body muscles don’t appear awkwardly one-sided. Also, back workouts with barbell can reduce your risk of injury.

A stronger back means more stable and stronger shoulders. In other words, you will gain increased strength to perform bigger lifts by training your back.

Here are some of the most effective back workouts using a barbell.

Top 8 Effective Back Workouts with Barbell

#1 Good Morning

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

Looking to build muscles in your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes? The barbell Good Morning workout is an excellent choice.

You get to improve your overall athletic performance with this exercise. Plus, the deadlift improves your chances of developing better lockout strength.


Good morning exercise helps protect your lower back under heavy loads. It does this by increasing strength and adding muscle to the low back erectors.

But that’s not all.

In addition to building lockout strength for the deadlift, the exercise will improve posterior chain strength and hip hinge mechanics.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Place the barbell across your upper back and grip the bar firmly with both hands
  • Pull down the barbell to engage your lats and breathe deeply to tighten your core
  • With a slight bend in your knee, hinge from your hips
  • Make sure to keep a neutral spine
  • Finish with your glutes as you stand back up

#2 T-Bar Row

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

For many old-school lifters, the T-Bar Row is a staple back workout. Essentially, this exercise targets the same set of muscles as the conventional bent-over barbell row.

But it is performed with a slight twist. You’ll be able to squeeze your middle traps and rhomboids better with the T-Bar Row.

That’s mostly because your elbows are forced to stay closer to your sides as you perform the exercise, and that’s exactly why it’s a good workout for your back!


This exercise works your middle and upper back and adds impressive strength and thickness to the muscles.

It is a bit easier on your shoulders and elbows, thanks to the neutral grip of the barbell.

In addition to this, you can improve your grip strength if you tweak things a bit. Simply perform the exercise using a rope, towel, or v-grip attachment.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Put one end of the barbell securely in a corner (like a landmine) so it doesn’t move
  • Add plates to the other end of the barbell
  • Straddle the bar with your feet spread about should-width apart
  • Incline your torso to about 45 degrees as you grip the bar just below the plates using both hands (alternatively, you can use a rope towel, towel, or v-grip attachment to hold the bar if you would like to improve your grip strength while working your back muscles)
  • Brace your abs, squeeze your shoulder blades, straighten your arms, and pull the bar up toward your chest
  • Return to the starting position and repeat

#3 Meadows Row

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

Don’t have dumbbells or plates readily available? No worries. The Meadows Row exercise, named after elite strength coach and bodybuilder John Meadows, provides an excellent row variation.

In this version, your body is perpendicular to the barbell, which is set up in a landmine.


This is one of the best back workouts with barbell for overloading your lats, lower traps, and rear delts.

That’s primarily because you are pulling the weight to your shoulder, making it work the upper back muscles and rear delts.

And because you will be gripping the end of the barbell using an overhand grip, your grip strength will definitely improve.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Set up the barbell in a landmine
  • With your front foot at a right angle to the bar, assume a staggered stance
  • Bend over at the waist and, using an overhand grip, firmly grip the end of the barbell with one hand
  • Rest your other elbow on the thigh of your front foot
  • Remember to raise the hip nearest to the end of the bar higher than the front hip
  • Row the weight up, making sure your hand go outside your chest
  • Drop the weight back to the starting position and repeat

#4 Seal Row

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

You’ll need to get into a prone position on an elevated workout bench and perform the seal row.

This exercise is tough on your back because there’s almost zero momentum in your movement. Your back muscles are literally doing all the heavy lifting!

It’s even more challenging because you’ll be holding the barbell in both hands without letting it touch the floor.

Here’s something you’ll want to keep in mind when performing the seal row. Start with a lighter load!

This is a pure horizontal row, so you’re completely in a prone position and can’t go heavy as you usually would.

Don’t worry, though. You can increase the weight gradually as your progress.


The seal row is one of the few back workouts with barbell that really work your middle back muscles.

That’s because it isolates that muscle group by removing all momentum. You are lying face down in a horizontal position with no hinge support, so it is a great lower-back exercise.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Stack a few bumper plates and prop a workout bench on them (You can use two low boxes for this too. The goal is to elevate the bench so that the barbell won’t touch the ground when you fully extend your arms)
  • Place the barbell on the ground in front of the workout bench and lie face down on the bench
  • Extend your arms and firmly grip the barbell with both hands
  • Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes as you pull the barbell up toward your chest
  • Lower the weight back down and repeat

#5 Pendlay Row

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

This row variation is named after Glenn William Pendlay, the legendary American level 5 weightlifting coach (by the way, level 5 is the highest accreditation for Olympic coaches in the US).

Instead of rowing the barbell from a bent position, this exercise involves rowing from the floor. This means you will be generating more force to lift the barbell off the ground to your abdomen.

While your lower back will get some rest between reps, there is little to no momentum with this workout.

In effect, you are building strength and power in your back with this workout.


Pulling weight from a dead stop, as it is done in the Pendlay row, develops power and builds strength in your back.

And while it requires you to be more explosive at the beginning of each rep, the weight rests on the floor after each rep.

This means the exercise is actually more lower-back friendly than the conventional bent-over row. So you might be able to do more reps or lift more weight with this barbell row variation.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Use the typical setup for a regular barbell deadlift
  • Hinge down to the barbell.
  • Using an overhand grip, spread your hand shoulder-width apart and grip the barbell
  • Bring your chest up while your armpits as you pull the weight towards the middle of your chest
  • Make sure you do not shift your back up to create momentum
  • Return the barbell to the floor and repeat

#6 Suitcase Deadlift

#6 Suitcase Deadlift

The suitcase deadlift is one of the tougher back workouts with barbells. An easier variation would be with a kettlebell or dumbbell.

This unilateral deadlift variation puts a lot of demand on your grip strength because you will have to balance or stabilize the weight of the barbell using one hand.


Although this exercise can be quite tough to perform, it offers the benefit of improving your grip strength and builds unilateral pulling.

Typically, this results in the strengthening of any imbalances present between your sides.

Also, as you try to stabilize the uneven load using one hand, the suitcase deadlift puts significant demand on your core and works your ab muscles.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Stand to the side but close to the center of the barbell
  • Assume the same position you would when performing a regular deadlift, making sure to chest up and keep your shoulders down
  • Keep your back neutral as you bend to bend to pick up the barbell as you would a suitcase
  • Engage your core and hinge back slowly to the starting position
  • Repeat

#7 Bent-Over Barbell Row with Horizontal Resistance

8 Back Workouts With Barbell

The point of row exercises is to fully engage the lats. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of not depressing their shoulders when performing rows.

If the shoulders are not depressed or kept back and down, it will be difficult to engage the lats.

That is where this barbell row variation comes in handy. With the barbell being pulled away from you by the horizontal resistance (a band), you’ll naturally depress your shoulders and engage the lats.


This workout helps improve your grip strength since you have resistance pulling you in opposite directions.

But most importantly, this barbell row variation with horizontal resistance develops and improves your pulling and hinge techniques.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Before adding the plates to the bar, secure a lopped resistance band of about 10 to 20 pounds to an anchor and attach it to the barbell
  • Deadlift the bar and walk back to make the band taut enough
  • Hinge forward to get the barbell below your knee
  • Pull the weight to your chest
  • Return to the starting position and repeat

#8 Yates Row

#8 Yates Row

The Yates Row is named after Dorian Andrew Yates, a retired professional bodybuilder with arguably the most perfectly developed back in history.

This exercise involves a shallower torso angle when performing the bent-over barbell row as opposed to leaning over all the way.


This back workout involves several muscles and joints all working together. it works nearly all the muscles from the base of your spine up to the nape of your neck.

In a nutshell, it is a total back exercise.

Plus, using an underhand grip with the Yates Row means you are effectively building bigger biceps.

How to Do this Back Exercise

  • Hold a barbell with an underhand grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart
  • Place the bar on blocks and lift from mid-thigh height or if you want to take things up a notch, deadlift the bar from the ground to get into position
  • Remember to use lifting straps if you prefer to go really heavy
  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, brace your core, pull your shoulders down, and bend your knees slightly
  • Hinge forward from the hips without rounding your lower back so that your torso is inclined at an angle of about 45-degree
  • Pull the barbell up to your sternum, keeping your elbows tucked as you pull
  • Briefly squeeze your shoulders and lower the bar while still maintaining the tension in your core and keeping a neutral spine
  • Pause briefly at the bottom and stretch your upper back
  • Repeat

Final Thoughts

There you have it – eight highly effective back workouts with a barbell to help build a strong back. Remember to factor in your experience level when adding plates to the bar.

Regardless of how much weight you’ve been lifting in the past, you want to approach back training gradually.

Also, remember to warm up your back muscles before training.

This will get the blood pumping through your back muscles and prepare the ligaments and tendons for the additional load.



Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.