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Upper Back Exercises – Build A Strong and Painless Back


One of the best ways to minimize back pain and to prevent future injuries is by doing upper back exercises.

Our new slouching lifestyle, whether over a laptop or smartphone, is causing horrid posture and back health. This poor posture is responsible for back and neck pain in numerous individuals. This is just one reason to incorporate upper back exercises into your workout regimes.

Another reason is, if you want to lift more and have the prestigious V-shaped back, then you need this list of upper back exercises. There are two bodyweight movements in this list. They are perfect for warm-ups or as a part of your regime. Bodyweight workouts are also an effective way to build mass and strength.

If you want to turn this list of upper back exercises into a workout, then just choose 4 exercises from the weight/equipment category along with the 2 bodyweight upper back exercises for a complete back workout.

Related: Guide To Back Muscles: Anatomy, Common Pain and Best Exercises

Upper Back Exercises 

This list of upper back exercises has bodyweight exercises and movements that require machines/equipment. If you want a thorough upper back workout, then you should choose any four of the exercises with equipment and the bodyweight movements.



Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi and trapezius

How to do pull-ups:

  • Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip shoulder-width apart
  • Now, keeping your back straight, pull yourself up
  • Imagine, pulling your shoulder blades back and downwards to utilize upper back muscles
Source: Verywell Fit


Muscles worked: Upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings and core.

How to do Superman’:

  • Lie face down with your arms and legs stretched outwards
  • Now, exhale as your lift your arms, legs, head and upper back off the ground
  • Next, hold this u-shape for at least 3 to 5 seconds
  • Lower down to starting position
Source: Greatist

Dumbbell Shrugs

Muscles Worked: Trapezius muscles

How to do dumbbell shrugs:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand
  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart
  • Turn your palms to face your sides
  • Slightly bend your knees
  • Now, bring your shoulder up as high as you can
  • Do the movement slowly for an increased burn
  • Finally, lower your shoulders down
Source: Men’s Health

Dumbbell Reverse Fly

Muscles worked: Trapezius and deltoids

How to do a dumbbell reverse fly:

  • Stand shoulder-width apart with dumbbells in each hand
  • Hinge your hips till your chest is parallel to the floor
  • Now, your palms should face each other
  • Next, raise both your arms our to the side by squeezing your shoulder blades
  • Your elbows should have a slight bend
  • Finally, lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position  
Source: Healthline

Face Pull

Muscles worked: Deltoids and trapezius

How to do face pull:

  • Set up a pulley machine, use an attachment that has two holds
  • Attach the attachment from the overhead side
  • Grab the handles with both hands
  • Now, step back until your arms are stretched out
  • Next, lean back slightly and pull the rope towards your face
  • Pause for a moment before returning to a rest position
Source: Healthline


This list has 4 kinds of rows, it’s not necessary nor recommended to do all 4 in one workout. Any two should be more than enough to hit all of your upper back muscles.

Dumbbell Row

Muscles Worked: The latissimus dorsi and rhomboids of your back. Perform all rows to chest level to work your upper back muscles.

Because this is a compound exercise, it also works your shoulders, biceps, and forearms.

How to do dumbbell row:

  • Stand with a bench in front of you
  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand and put the opposite palm on the bench
  • Bend your hips and your back should be straight
  • Now, bring the dumbbell up from the resting position
  • Row the dumbbell up till chest level
  • Finally, pause for a moment before letting it down
Source: Men’s Health

Barbell Bent Over Row

Muscles worked: Middle, lower and upper traps, rhomboid major and minor and rear deltoids.

How to do barbell bent over row:

  • Grab the barbell with an overhand grip
  • Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart
  • Hinge your hips and slightly bend your knees
  • Your torso should be parallel to the ground
  • Your back should also have a natural arch
  • Now, pull the bar up to your chest
  • Next, hold this position for a moment before lowering the weight
Source: Men’s Health

Seated Cable Row

Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius and biceps.

How to do seated cable row:

  • Sit on a seated row machine and adjust the weight
  • Plant your feet on the footpads and bend your knees
  • Now, bend your elbows and pull the handle backward
  • Bring it back to chest level and pause for a few seconds
Source: Women’s Health

Band Bent Over Row

Muscles Worked: The latissimus dorsi and rhomboids of your back. Perform all rows to chest level to work your upper back muscles.

Because this is a compound exercise, it also works your shoulders, biceps, and forearms.

How to do band bent over row:

  • Choose a band with a challenging resistance
  • Stand in the middle of the band
  • Now, grab the band from each side
  • Next, hinge your hips with a slight bend in your knees
  • Make sure your back stays straight
  • Now, squeeze your shoulders and pull the bands back
  • You have to bring the band back to your chest
  • Pause for a moment before returning to the resting position

Why Do You Need To Do Upper Back Exercises?


You need a strong back for numerous reasons, but to boil it down to two factors: health and fitness.

A strong back is needed to lift more. It’s not just your lower body squatting, your back is in play too. It helps stabilize your body, allowing for the movement in the first place. Also, if you’re looking to bench press an impressive weight, your chest and arms will be needing help from your back.

Luckily, you can workout your back more often than your other muscle groups. So, this list of upper back exercises can be done twice in a week if not more.

Upper back exercises workout your rotator cuff, rhomboids, and traps, this improves shoulder mobility and health. Also, like it’s popularly known, a healthy back equals good posture.

Key Takeaway From These Upper Back Exercises

Incorporating upper back exercises into your fitness regime can help you fix your posture, lift more weights and prevent future injuries. You can either make your own back workouts or check out one of these thorough workouts to help build a powerful upper back.

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