Train Your Back to Trim Your Waist: 5 Back Exercises that Are Perfect for Fat Loss

Looking and feeling great for the summer doesn’t have to be super complicated. Be sure to read all the way to the end to find out more about my Summer Fat Loss coaching program.

One of the best ways to get leaner and actually look leaner is by training the heck out of your back.

If you want to create the appearance of a narrower waist just in time for summer then follow along closely because I’m gonna show you how.

When your back muscles grow or at least maintain their size during a fat loss phase, your waist will begin to look narrower.

Kinda like magic tricks where an optical illusion is created. Except there’s no magic involved here.

In this article, I’m going to show you 5 exercises that will help you create a leaner, more defined back to shape you up just in time for summer.

1-Arm Dumbbell Dead Stop Row

I love rowing variations, so it’s only fitting to kick off with this one here.

The dead stop row is performed similarly to a regular 1-Arm DB row except that you’re going to lower all the way to the ground, coming to a complete stop.

When you lift the weight from a dead stop, you take out any momentum which forces your muscles to contract in order to initiate the movement.

How To Do Them:

  1. Start out in a 3-point stance, with one hand and one knee supported on the bench.
  2. The other hand will be the active rowing side.
  3. Reach down for the dumbbell, letting your upper back and shoulder protract forward.
  4. Grip the dumbbell tight, brace your abs, and drive your elbow up and back while squeezing your shoulder blade.
  5. Control the weight back down to the ground, come to a complete stop and then go into the next rep.

Why You Should Do Them:

They’re a great alternative to regular DB rows, and they provide a little extra challenge of getting the weight off the ground at the beginning. Since you’re taking out any momentum you’d have during a regular DB row, go a bit lighter on these until you really get the hang of them.

Recommended reps: I like to stick to moderate rep ranges for most rowing variations. 8-10 reps on these seem to work quite well.

Chest Supported Rows with 5 Second Eccentric

Chest-supported rows are fantastic for targeting the entire back, especially the rhomboids and lats. Most gyms won’t have a dedicated chest-supported row machine, but don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

You can use dumbbells and an incline bench just like in the video below.

How To Do Them:

  1. Set up an incline bench, probably somewhere between 30-45 degrees. Make sure you don’t make the incline too steep or the exercise will turn into more of a shrug rather than a row.
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells (keep em fairly light because again, you can’t cheat with momentum on these).
  3. Lie chest down on the bench and grab the dumbbells.
  4. Make sure to squeeze your butt and brace your abs.
  5. Squeeze the shoulder blades together while driving your elbows up.
  6. Try to keep the forearms perpendicular to the ground (or as close as you can). This ensures you’re mostly using your back and not your biceps.
  7. To add an extra challenge to this movement, throw in a 5 second eccentric (lowering) component.

Why You Should Do Them:

Because they’re awesome.

And challenging.

And you like challenges. But really, these are a cool addition to an already stellar back routine, and you can really get a nice contraction in the back with this exercise.

Keep em light to start, especially if you’re doing the 5 second lowering. It’s not an ego lift. Feel your back doing the work.

Recommended rep range: 6-12

Seated Cable Row with Forward Lean+Stretch

If you enjoy a nice pump, give this one a try.

The seated cable row with individual handles is sure to get the blood flowing in your back. And quick.

Add in a slight forward lean with a stretch and you’re going to be feeling the burn for sure.

How To Do Them:

  1. Attach handles to a cable machine or a dedicated seated row machine.
  2. Sit up nice and tall with your arms fully outstretched and your chest up.
  3. While keeping your torso upright and tall, hinge or lean forward, reaching towards the cable station.
  4. Then, begin leaning back while you squeeze your shoulder blades and pull through the elbows.
  5. For beginners, finish in an upright position. For more advanced lifters, you can add a bit of extension at the end to recruit some erectors as well.

Why You Should Do Them:

Allowing the scapula to move during rowing movements is priority number one. And this exercise allows us to do exactly that.

Plus, the stretch and contraction combine to give you an amazing pump which makes this exercise one you’ve got to try for yourself.

Recommended rep range: I like to keep the reps on the moderate-higher side for this one. Try this out with 8-10, 10-15 and 20 rep sets.

Lat Pulldowns with ISO hold

Too many people slop through their vertical pulling work. I want you to add in an ISO hold to ensure you’re actually using your lats to perform the movement.

It really is way too easy to just use the arms when doing pulldown variations, so this exercise is going to focus on squeezing and contracting your lats to help you build muscle and burn fat.

How To Do Them:

  1. Pick your grip. Either overhand, neutral or underhand. Each one is great, so try them all to see which one feels best for you.
  2. Pick a weight that’s about 70% of what you’d normally use for pulldowns.
  3. Grab onto the bar and let you entire shoulder girdle and scapula stretch up towards the ceiling.
  4. Then, initiate the movement by shrugging your shoulder blades down first, before you even bend your elbows. This will ensure you’re activating your lats and scapula first and not relying on your arms to bring the weight down.
  5. Continue pulling through the elbows, bringing the bar all the way to your sternum. Make sure you keep your chest up the entire time.
  6. When you get the bar to the sternum, hold, contract for 3-5 seconds, then return the weight up to the starting position.

Why You Should Do Them:

Pulldowns will improve the width of your back and help to make your waist appear narrower. Not only that but building your lats improves your ability to perform compound movements with heavier weights thus helping you get stronger and leaner over time.

Like I said, most people’s lat pulldown technique absolutely SUCKS and this is an easy way to correct it.

Drop the weight down and feel your back light up like a Christmas tree.

Recommended rep ranges: 8-12 with the hold

Snatch Grip Barbell Rows

If squats are considered the king for growing a nice set of wheels (legs if you aren’t up on the bro terms), then barbell rows are king for building your back.

With endless variations and loading possibilities, barbell rows are a huge staple in my online clients programs, and in every single one of my own lifting programs as well.

This is the same back building champion but with a slightly wider grip. Snatch grip barbell rows are a bit more taxing on the upper back and they’re great for widening your lats and burning tons of calories as well. These are perfect for a summer fat loss lifting program.

How To Do Them:

  1. Set up like you normally would for a barbell row. Lately, I’ve been a big fan of doing barbell rows Pendlay style, which is from the ground.
  2. Get your grip, probably somewhere close to the rings on the barbell, maybe narrower if you’ve got shorter arms.
  3. Bend over with a flat back, hinging on the hips and knees.
  4. Brace your stomach and squeeze your shoulder blades and drive your elbows up and back slightly.
  5. Try to pull the bar into your abdomen and squeeze your lats hard.
  6. Lower all the way back down to the ground before beginning the next rep.

Why You Should Do Them:

They tax your entire back and grip. They’re also phenomenal for building muscle in the upper back especially, which is very helpful when trying to create that slim waist illusion 😉

They’re also easy to load, which makes them very useful when looking to progress in weight.

Oh yea, and barbell rows are awesome for back development, hands down.

Recommended rep range: 6-10 reps is perfect for these. Slightly heavier for sets of 6, and a bit lighter for sets of 10. Keep in mind you’ll need to use less weight than normal since your grip is wider.

Do This Workout Today

A1) Snatch Grip Barbell Rows 4×6-10

B1) Chest Supported Row with 5 second eccentric 3×6-12

C1) 1-Arm DB Dead Stop Row 3×8-10 per arm

D1) Seated Cable Row with forward lean+stretch 3×10-15

D2) Lat Pulldown with ISO hold 3×8-12 with 3-5 second hold

*Superset the last two exercises only. Rest 45-60 seconds in between most sets.

Summer is a Comin

It’s a fact of life that summer is the period of time when we want to look our best. We’ve got pool parties, beach trips, vacations, and other shenanigans to attend to.

And we want to look good. Really good.

We want to feel confident with our shirts off and in our bathing suits.

But sometimes it can be tough to get started due to a lack of motivation or even not knowing what to do in the gym and kitchen if fat loss is the goal.

It’s not just about getting abs.


It’s much more than that.

It’s about exuding confidence and feeling really happy with how you look and feel.

I know first hand that it can be tough just getting started. And that’s exactly why I’m here. To help you succeed and reach your goals. To help motivate you to stick to a well-designed training program. To provide nutritional guidelines that fit your needs and goals.

To help you get started.

I don’t have all of the details ready quite yet, but I will be opening a summer fat loss coaching program. If you want to get into better shape for summer and lose body fat and inches, while gaining confidence this program will be right up your alley.


Great. Shoot me an email at with “Summer” in the subject line and I’ll keep you in the loop once I finalize the details.

Get Your Free Blueprint to Lose Fat for Summer


Leave a Reply