5 Best Crossfit Back Workouts (Increase Strength & Agility)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 6, 2024
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In my 10+ years as a fitness trainer, I've encountered many clients who struggle with weak backs.

They incorporate exercises to strengthen their back and get that magazine-cover toned big back.

After intensive research and working with a Crossfit trainer, we developed a list of the best Crossfit workouts to help you tone your back and increase strength and agility.

Keep reading to know the workouts to incorporate into your Crossfit training program.

Quick Summary

  • To optimize your Crossfit back workouts, include exercises such as wide grip pull-ups, prone rows, dual kettlebell rack carries, barbell rows, and sumo deadlifts in your training plan.
  • Crossfit is among the best ways to strengthen and improve the suppleness of your back.
  • According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), back muscles assist you in moving your body, bending over, rotating your trunk, and standing straight.
  • In my personal opinion, a robust back is the cornerstone of overall strength and fitness in Crossfit, enhancing performance across various exercises and ensuring long-term well-being.

The Best Crossfit Back Exercises

A man performing crossfit back workout

1. Wide Grip Pull-ups

Drawing from my experience, I've found wide-grip pull-ups to be among the most effective Crossfit back workouts.

This exercise focuses on developing the upper back muscles and is a good activity for increasing bicep strength and size.

How to perform:

  1. Grab the pull-up bar overhanded with a wider-than-shoulder width hold.
  2. Squeeze the shoulder blades and hang with a relaxed torso.
  3. Pull yourself as high as you possibly can to the bar.
  4. Return to the starting position gradually.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

2. Prone Rows

Doing prone rows

One of the best things concerning the prone row is its ease. There isn't much technique required.

How to perform: 

  1. Load the barbell and place it on the floor.
  2. Set the barbell beneath a bench. If the bench is too low, raise it with a pair of weight bars.
  3. Position yourself prone on the bench (with belly down).
  4. Take a little wider-than-shoulder-width grip on the barbell.
  5. Pull your scapular back.
  6. Pull the weight towards the sternum by contracting your lats.
  7. At the apex of the exercise, take a little pause.
  8. Return the bar to its starting position.
  9. Repeat for reps.

3. Dual Kettlebell Rack Carry

After putting it to the test, we can confirm that the dual kettlebell rack carry is excellent for scapular and upper back development. It integrates trunk and core stability and strength.

The shoulders get a heavy treatment; you may do them solely or in more extended grinder parts.

How to perform: 

  1. Hold a kettlebell in each of your hands.
  2. Raise the kettlebells beneath your chin so your palms face up, and the wrists face each other.
  3. Begin walking forward while keeping the kettlebells in the same position.
  4. Continue for the time frame or distance required.

4. Barbell Row

Performing barbell rows

The barbell row is often used in powerlifting exercises and bodybuilding.

They are a compound workout that works the entire body. They target your upper and lower backs and your hips and arms. A barbell row is an exercise that works on strengthening the core muscles.

How to perform: 

  1. Grab the bar with both hands shoulder-width apart. Lean forward at the hips, with your knee slightly bent.
  2. Maintain a straight back and shoulders. Let the barbell hang just below you.
  3. Lift the barbell into your diaphragm while pulling your elbows toward the ceiling.
  4. Extend your arms straight and drop the bar to the ground.
  5. Repeat for reps.

5. Sumo Deadlifts

Sumo deadlifts enable you to carry more weight quickly, improving strength.

"The sumo deadlift allows you to move more freely across a shorter range of motion. Since we get our feet wider, we may not have to hinge as far."

- Ebenezer Samuel, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

How to perform: 

  1. Step up to the barbell with your legs straight and wide apart. An excellent beginning point is to place the bar across the center of your leg and stand wide enough so that the shins are vertical when viewed from the front.
  2. Inhale deeply, lean down, and grasp the bar.
  3. Hold your breath, gently brace your core tight, and raise the bar.
  4. Bring the barbell close to your torso, keeping your back straight until you're standing upright.
  5. Return the bar to the floor with control.
  6. Repeat for reps.

Muscles That Make up the Back

Holding barbell while showing back muscle

When it comes to the top Crossfit back workouts, it provides some distinct challenges in comparison to other muscles. The main challenge is the back, composed of five different muscle groups.

  • Lats
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Traps
  • Teres Major
  • Spinae Erector

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these back muscles assist you in moving your body, bending over, rotating your trunk, and standing straight. They also support your spine and aid breathing [1].

Most people continuously perform the same exercises, disregarding different planes of movement that enhance total back strength and growth.

Based on a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), concentrating on rows, push-ups, and pull-ups will not improve your back exercises or muscular growth. This is because push-ups, rows, and pull-ups only work the lats and overlook the other muscles [2].

The most popular and successful back workouts target the five muscle groups described above; targeting all five muscles ensures no pebble is left untouched.

Benefits of a Strong Back in Crossfit

Back muscles in isolated background

Back workouts are an excellent technique to gain muscle. It's hard to imagine a functional activity where having a solid back won't help you.

Consistently practice, remain safe, and take the best CrossFit pre-workout supplements for the energy needed to complete the workouts.

In Crossfit, a strong back will enable you to:

  • Regulate and perform gymnastic movements (muscle ups improve).
  • Control and stabilize motions by working with your core.
  • Enhance your Olympic Lifts pulling phases.
  • During the most crucial fundamental strength exercises, it lets you lift more weight (and become more substantial).
  • Assist in the stabilization of all overhead presses and balancing activities.
  • Keep proper posture.
  • Secure your spine and keep it safe from harm.

FAQs

What 3 Back Exercises Should I Do?

The three back exercises that you should do are the single-arm dumbbell rows, deadlifts, and lat pulldowns.

What Is the King of Back Exercises?

The deadlift is the king of back workouts since it involves lat and core stability and exercising your whole posterior chain.

How Many Sets Are Good for Back?

Aim for 10-20 sets for every muscle group per week, divided into two sessions. This will keep you active, preventing overtraining, and result in higher gains.


Reference:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537074/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812863/
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