crossfit back exercises
Crossfit

10 Easy CrossFit Back Exercises for Strength and Endurance

When it comes to the best CrossFit back exercises, it offers some unique challenges compared to other muscle groups, the major challenge being the back is made up of five separate muscle groups.

The five muscle groups that make up the back:

5 muscle groups that make up the back
  1. Lats
  2. Traps
  3. Spinae Erector
  4. Rotator Cuff
  5. Teres Major

Unfortunately, just focusing on pullups or rows will not optimize your back workouts and muscle development. The reason is, pullups and rows only focus primarily on the lats and neglect the other muscles.

However, more significantly, most people train the same exercises repeatedly, thus ignoring other planes of movements that promote overall back strength and development.

The leading and most effective back workouts cover the five muscle groups listed above; by hitting all five groups, you leave no stone unturned.

This article will layout 10 of the best CrossFit back exercises you can implement into your back workouts that will not only build strength but the V-taper we all aspire for.

1. Deadlifts With Barbell

The barbell deadlift is one of the best CrossFit back exercises out there as it stimulates and promotes growth in the lower back. Additionally, it works the hips, glutes, abs, and even forearms, making it an essential movement for your back development.

Equipment:

Barbell

Primary Muscles:

Lats, Hips, Glutes, Abs, Forearms

How to perform:

  • Start with the barbell on the floor
  • Stand in an athletic position with your feet 4 to 6 inches from the barbell
  • Grip the bar with an overhand grip, shoulder-width in length
  • A slight bend in your arms, pull the barbell up, keeping your head straight
  • At the top, rotate the shoulders back slightly until you feel a stretch
  • Lower in a controlled motion and repeat

Coaches Tip:

As with any exercise, remember to keep your core strong at all times. 

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 8 reps

2. Rows

A great CrossFit back exercise, the Cable Row hits not only the back muscles, but also the shoulders, traps, and biceps.

Equipment:

Rowing Machine

Primary Muscles:

Lats, Traps, Shoulders, Biceps

How to perform:

  • Sit on the rowing machine, keep your legs slightly bent
  • Keeping your back straight, lean forward, and grab the handles
  • With your core at 90 degrees, pull back with extended arms
  • Keep your head and back straight with your chest out
  • When pulling back, be sure to squeeze the back muscles for a one count
  • Slowly return to the start position and repeat

Coaches Tip:

The pullback tempo should be faster than the return movement; Be sure to keep your chest out and your core tight.

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 12

3. Upright Rows

The Upright Row targets the traps in the opposite way to what a traditional pull-up would. An additional benefit of this CrossFit back exercise is that it develops other muscle groups such as the shoulders and rear delts, giving you the ability to lift heavy.

Equipment:

Barbell or Upright Cable

Primary Muscles:

Lats, Shoulders, Delts

How to perform:

  • Start with feet shoulder-width apart, in an athletic position
  • The barbell by your hips with an overhand grip
  • Keeping your core tight, pull the bar up as far as you can
  • Once at the top, lower the bar slowly to avoid injury
  • Repeat

Coaches Tip:

Keep your head straight and your core strong when performing the row.

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 12 reps

4. Back Extension

The back extension helps improve overall back strength, in particular the lower back muscles. It offers excellent side benefits such as strengthening other muscle groups like hips, hamstrings, and glutes; these benefits make it a staple CrossFit back exercise.

Equipment:

Hamstring Developer

Primary Muscles:

Lower Back, Core, Hips, Hamstrings

How to perform:

  • Place yourself face down on a hamstring stretch machine
  • The body must be parallel to the ground, locking your ankles in
  • Place your hands on your head or side, whichever is comfortable
  • Slowly lower to the floor until your body is perpendicular
  • Be sure to inhale while lowering and exhale while returning
  • Repeat

Coaches Tip:

This exercise is quite complicated and takes a good base of core strength to complete.

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 8 reps on each side

5. Kickbacks or Kneeling Supermans

The kickbacks are an excellent movement anyone can do, and no equipment is needed, although you can do a weighted version if your level of fitness is higher.

The movement targets the lower back, core muscles, and hip flexors; the exercise is beneficial for both men and women.

Equipment:

None, although you can use weights

Primary Muscles:

Lower Back, Core, Hips

How to perform:

  • Start on the floor in the all-fours position, knees under the hips
  • Keeping the back straight, pull your shoulders and engage the core
  • Extend your left leg back while extending your right arm forward
  • Make sure your head and shoulders are straight and engage the core
  • Return to the start position and repeat with the other side

Coaches Tip:

This exercise will test your balance, so be sure to stay focused on a specific point in front of you and keep the core tight

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 10 on each side

6. Dumbbell Bench Rows

via Gfycat

Related Post:  10 CrossFit Barbell Exercises You Need To Know About

Dumbell rows focus specifically on the lower and upper back and target other muscle groups such as the core, biceps, and shoulders.

Equipment:

Bench, Dumbbells

Primary Muscles:

Lats, Biceps, Shoulders, Core Muscles

How to perform:

  • Place a dumbbell to the right of the bench
  • Place your left knee on the bench
  • Make sure your body is parallel to the ground, using your hand to support
  • With an overhand grip, pick up the dumbbell, keeping your back straight
  • Lift or pull the weight towards your chest, keeping to the side of the bench
  • At the top, pause for a two count and slowly lower the dumbbell
  • Repeat for both sides

Coaches Tip:

The Rowing movement is quite complex; be absolutely sure you have a good foundation of overall strength before starting this exercise. Be sure to begin lightly, slowly working your way up to heavier weights.

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 10 reps for each side

7. Good Mornings

via Gfycat

The Good Morning is a classic traditional exercise amongst experienced fitness buffs.

As the name suggests, this movement is a great way to start the day after getting out of bed, as it helps to stretch the back and hamstrings that have been inactive overnight.

It can be done with a barbell for a more intense activity or performed as a stretch.

Equipment:

None or can be completed using a light barbell

Primary Muscles:

Back, Hamstrings

How to perform:

  • In an athletic position, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keeping your back straight, balance a light barbell on your shoulders
  • In a controlled manner, bend at the hips until parallel with the floor
  • Slowly return, keeping the core engaged
  • Repeat

Coaches Tip:

When performing the exercise, be sure to take your time when lowering and make sure you can feel the burn through the hamstrings and not the lower back.

Sets and Reps:

2 sets of 10

8. Wide Grip Pull-ups

The wide grip pull is one of the most outstanding CrossFit back exercises there is. The pull-up can be completed on a pull-up bar, or for those just starting out, an assisted pull-up machine is recommended.

The exercise emphasizes your upper back muscles’ development and is an excellent movement to develop bicep strength and size.

Other benefits include increased grip strength, improved shoulder muscles, increased fitness levels, and overall body health.

Equipment:

Pull-up bar

Primary Muscles:

Lats, Traps, Biceps, Forearms

How to perform:

  • With a wider than shoulder grip, grab the bar overhanded
  • Hang down with a relaxed body and squeeze your shoulder blades
  • Explosively, pull yourself up to the bar as high as possible
  • Slowly lower to the starting position
  • Repeat

Coaches Tip:

Start of using the assisted pull-up machine until you build enough strength before progressing to the pull-up bar.

Sets and Reps:

Beginners, try for as many as you can – otherwise, 3 sets of 10

9. Knee Roll Or Side To Side Knees

The Knee Roll exercise stretches the back out, specifically the spine, and is an excellent movement for those suffering from knee, hip, or back pain.

A great exercise to utilize for a warm-up or cool-down, the knee roll promotes flexibility and overall strength and mobility, primarily through the hips and back.

Equipment:

None

Primary Muscles:

Hips, Back, Knees

How to perform:

  • With your knees bent, lie down on your back
  • Place your arms out to the side while keeping your body stable
  • Slowly roll both knees and your hips side to side, back flat on the floor
  • At each side, stop for a pause of 1 second, then return to start
  • Repeat, focusing on deep breaths

Coaches Tip:

This is one of the best CrossFit back exercises to use daily as it helps promote flexibility and reduces the chance of injury

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 10 reps on each side

10. Push-Ups

via Gfycat

Related Post:  16 Best Crossfit Bands Exercises For Any Fitness Level

I have left the best for last, the good old traditional push-up. The push-up, in my expert opinion, is undoubtedly the king of all CrossFit back exercises.

A superior movement, the humble push-up requires no weight, no equipment, and can be performed anywhere. The activity strengthens several muscles, including; your shoulders, triceps, pecs, lower back, and core.

Push-ups are an excellent way to build strength and core stability, and if implemented correctly, the push-up can be executed daily.

Equipment:

None

Primary Muscles:

Chest, Back, Core, Triceps, Shoulders

How to perform:

  • On the floor, preferably a mat, kneel on both knees
  • Get into a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart
  • Make sure your feet are aligned, your back straight, and core tight
  • In a controlled fashion, lower to the floor while engaging the core
  • To come back up, press, but do not lockout at the top
  • Repeat

Coaches Tip:

Keep the core strong and engaged throughout the entire movement and focus on the chest muscles, not the arms.

Sets and Reps:

3 sets of 10

Conclusion

The exercises above all offer various positive impacts on the body, and they help promote strength and overall conditioning when combined into your regular workout.

It’s important to remember the back is not a single muscle group but is made up of five separate groups that all need to be targeted. Do not neglect the other groups by focusing on a limited number of exercises.

Be sure to work the muscles through different ranges of movement and intensities. Use varying weight, reps, and sets to stimulate growth and aid recovery.

Couple these CrossFit back exercises with a clean nutritional eating plan, regular physical activity, and achieve the maximum results possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Any Equipment Required To Perform These Exercises?

Although several of the exercises listed require some type of machine or equipment, many require none. Even those exercises that require a machine generally have several variations that can be executed, requiring none.

Are These Crossfit Back Exercises Fine For 50+ years old?

Yes, Most of the exercises mentioned are appropriate for users of all ages and levels. Movements like the push-up and knee roll are bodyweight exercises, meaning they are perfect for all fitness levels. Another benefit of bodyweight movements is they do not negatively tax the body; thus, they are excellent rehabilitation and daily workouts.

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. He has held Managerial and Head Coaching roles with Australia's National Governing Body, Tennis Australia, and served on the Dunlop International Sports Advisory Board for eight years. Brenton currently consults with several professional athletes and clients in the areas of Self-Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.

You may also like...