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10 best gym back workout machines to build mass and strength

muscular back
Aesthetic back with mass and strength

To build the back is a particularly difficult task as the exercises to build back require a great deal of practice, skill and patience. Use of machines that will help you build mass and strength is sometimes a better option for someone who is struggling with back exercises. 

Following are the ten best machines that will help you build a massive aesthetic back with strength, mass and a proper v taper. 

Lat pulldown

The lat pulldown is a staple machine and is almost found in every gym. The muscles worked in a Lat pulldown are rear deltoid, traps, rhomboid and of course the latissimus dorsi

lat pull down
Lat pull down

How to use

The Lat pulldown is not a complicated machine to work at, you first adjust the seat according to your height, pin the desired weight in weight stack, hold the bar at a comfortable stance (preferably a bit wider than your shoulder width), sit down and lock your legs in the seat, breath in, brace your core, pull your chest out and pull down the handle and then slowly return to the original position.

If done correctly the lats are properly targeted and will help you get a wider back with a narrow v taper. Try out different grips attachments if available and choose one according to your needs. 

Seated row machine

The seated row machine is present in one form or another, sometimes it's a plate loaded machine and other times it's a cable machine. 

seated row machine 2
Seated machine row

The muscles worked by the seated row are mid back, lower lats, core, lower back and rear deltoids.

How to use

To use a seated row is an easy task, first you pin the weight in the stack or add plates in the machine, then you sit down with a comfortable foot placement for a leverage, you grab the handles or grip firmly, once you've gotten in the start position take a deep breath in brace your core and pull your chest out, then pull the handles to your obliques and slowly come back to your  position. 

If you feel like range of motion is small then lower the weight and try again, try different grips and choose the better one for your needs. 

Chest supported row

The chest supported row is famous for its isolation given to the back muscles, it helps relax the stress on the abs and focus the tension on the back. 

chest supported row 1
Chest supported row

The muscles targeted by chest supported row machines are mid back, lower lats and rear deltoids

How to use

The chest supported row can be easily worked by anyone, first you load the weight on the weight rack, then you should adjust the seat height accordingly, take a seat, place your chest on the chest support pad, place your foot, and grab the handles, this is your start position. Take a deep breath and pull the handles to your obliques. Come back slowly to the start position

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Try to grip the handles tighter for additional stimulation for the forearms. 

Landmine row

The landmine row is an excellent substitute for barbell rows. Removes the balancing requirement and grants good arch to the motion. 

land mine row
Landmine row

The landmine row works your mid back, lats, core, lower back and rear deltoids.

How to use

The landmine row has a barbell anchored to the ground on one end and the other end moves on about a fixed circular arch. Using the landmine row is simple, first you load some weight on the open end according to your strength level, then stand over the bar and put a suitable grip on the row according to your needs, if you need a more lat focused workout then use a narrow grip and if you want to target upper back then use a wide grip. First bend across your knees as if you have to do a deadlift, then pick up the bar and arch  your back. This will be your starting position, take a deep breath, brace your core and pull the weight to your diaphragm area, then slowly lower the weight to your starting position. Try to maintain stiffness in your back the entire motion.

Peck deck machine (Reverse fly) 

The peck deck is always a first preference by bodybuilders for targeting their upper back. The fly machine sometimes has an arm setting which makes it possible to do a reverse fly motion on it just like a peck deck machine. 

peck deck machine
Reverse peck deck machine

The peck deck machine effectively targets the trapezius, rear deltoids and teres major

How to use

To use this machine effectively, first adjust the seat height to your liking, pin the weight in the weight stack and sit, grab the handles firmly in front of your face, this is your starting position. Push your chest into the seat support, take a deep breath and pull your arms to your back in a circular motion and then slowly come back to your starting position. Try to keep your elbow stable and stiff throughout the movement. If you take your hands too far back it works your teres major and if you stop at 90 degrees then it works your rear deltoids more. 

Back extension machine

The back extension machine or the Hypertension machine is one of the best machines to work your lower back. 

back extension machine
Back extension machine

The Back extension machine works your glutes, erector spinae muscles, hamstrings and core

How to use

To use this machine you must first place your feet in a comfortable position at the bottom leg hook, then straighten your back, this is your starting position. From here start to lower yourself slowly to get a deep stretch in your lower back and once you've gotten deep enough come back up to the starting position. 

You can always add weight by holding dumbbells or plates when you are using a hypertension machine. 

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Smith Machine for back workout

The Smith machine is by far the best workout machine for training your entire body. 

smith machine barbell row
Smith machine barbell row

If you train your back on a Smith machine you can target your teres major, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, rear deltoids and trapezius.

How to use

To use the Smith machine for an effective back workout you can firstly try the barbell rows, first you adjust the empty bar on a specific height suitable to your needs, then rack plates in the barbell according to your strength capacity, get in front of the bar, arch your back, pull out your chest, bend over and grip the barbell firmly, this is your starting position now little the bar to your diaphragm region. Once at the top then pause and slowly lower the barbell. 

If you feel like pushing your limits even more you can do a single arm row on the Smith machine. 

You can also do shrugs on Smith machine, just adjust the barbell to height of your waist region, load up the barbell with weight you can manage and stand in front of the barbell, bend forward a little bit, grab the barbell take a deep breath and lift the weight, this is your starting position, now slowly lower the weight and pull your shoulders as high as you can and slowly lower it down to your starting position. 

Assisted pull up machine

To learn pull ups you might need to practice the negatives or use a resistance band but the best option would be to use an assisted pull up machine. 

assisted pull up machine
Assisted pull up machine

The muscles worked in an assisted pull up are latissimus dorsi, teres major and rear deltoids. 

How to use

Using this machine is easy as wearing gloves, first you pin the weight stack with enough weight to support your ascending motion, then stand on the platform and grab the suitable grip which you like, this is now your starting position. Take a deep breath and pull yourself up, once reached at the top you pause for a second and then lower yourself down slowly to the starting position. 

Always remember, you make progress in this machine by lowering the weight stack. 

Rowing machine

The rowing machine is a bit different from a regular gym workout machine, it doesn't need any weight stack or plates for its working and solely relies on wind or water resistance. 

rowing machine
Rowing machine

The rowing machine works your teres major, latissimus dorsi, hamstrings, forearms and brachii.

How to use

To use the rowing machine first set the resistance on the lower side to your liking, then sit down on the platform with your legs firmly placed on foot rest with a slightly bent in your knees, grab the handles firmly, this is your starting position. Now take a deep breath and perform a rowing motion similar to rowing a boat while straightening your feet, keep your back arched (not hollowed), and try to pull as hard as you can. Come back to the starting position quickly by letting the handle forward and bending the knees again. 

Double pulley cable machine

The double pulley cable machines are used to hit the back with proper symmetry in strength and balance. 

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Double pulley cable machine

The double pulley cable machine works the latissimus dorsi, rear deltoids, forearms and trapezius.

How to use

To use this machine you need to set the pulley to suit your height, stack the desired weight, sit down and grab the handles, this is your starting position. Take a deep breath and pull down while keeping your back arched and your shoulder down. Once reached maximum contraction slowly bring the weight down to starting position. 

This machine can be used for rowing and lat pull downs, the independent hand movement gives a symmetrical stress to the body and cables improve the balance. 

Benefits of using machines for training back

The common back workouts like pull ups, deadlifts, barbell rowing, shrugs, dumbbell pullovers all have one thing in common, they have a big learning curve. 

These staple back workouts induce large amounts of fatigue. The compound lifts make the forearm sore enough that you can't even get to failure of back muscles before your forearms give out on you. Symmetry maintenance in traditional back workouts is also a difficult task and of course the injury risk is also high. 

All of these shortcomings of back workouts are addressed in machines.Some benefits of using a machine for training back muscles are as follows

  1. Targeted muscle engagement: The isolation of back muscles in any traditional workout becomes a tedious job. Machines on the other hand have a good chest support and better position and alignment to target a specific back muscle. 
  2. Safety and control: Performing any back exercise has its risk, specifically to the lower back. Maintaining a proper form during every rep also becomes a tedious task. Using a machine easily eliminates these risks. 
  3. Versatility: The back workout machines often come with different styles of grips and handles for supination and pronation of grip and have multiple settings to hit your entire back. 
  4. Ease of use: Setting up for a back workout in a machine is going to be easier and convenient. Performing a superset on a machine doesn't disturb your concentration and helps you keep going. 
  5. Better for rehabilitation: If you are suffering from any injury and require to train in a strict form only then working out on a machine becomes your only option. Working out on a machine will not only help you keep your back stimulated but might also help heal your I juries better. 
  6. Effective for high volume training: If you are on a cut, then training for strength is not a good option. You must train for volume and doing a high volume set for back muscles is easily possible on machines. High volume on machines isolates targeted muscles easily which produces lesser fatigue. 

Conclusion

The old school bodybuilder and strength athlete has always cultivated a belief that deadlifts, pull ups, barbell rows and heavy shrugs are superior compared to machines. This is true for someone who is looking to get into powerlifting but not true for an average athlete or fitness enthusiast. The most common problems with them have no greater range of motion, less isolation and the big one is low safety. 

All the major issues of training back are solved if you switch to using machines. Now professional athletes are also understanding the importance of machines and know what risk to reward machines offer over the traditional approach.

Machines will help you stay away from injuries, provide greater isolation, help you go to failure on every set and if you really want to keep working out for a long time machines are the way to go. 

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sandesh Khade
sandesh Khade

Hi I'm Sandesh khade and I am an electronics and telecommunications engineer, I have taught math to engineering, diploma and 10+2 students. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and workout regularly. I love to analyze and write. I try to write about almost any event or make one up just for the sake of practicing writing.