The Best Back Exercises for Size and Strength

The Best Upper Back Exercises for Strength and Flexibility

A strong upper back is crucial to overall fitness, good posture, and avoiding neck and shoulder pain. It is also great for filling out a tee shirt and making yourself look bigger, even if you are on the skinny side.  Here are some of the best exercises to target your upper back.

The Best Upper Back Exercises for Strength and Size

1. Bent-Over Rows

One of the most effective exercises for the upper back is the bent-over row. This exercise targets the rhomboids, trapezius, and latissimus dorsi muscles.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the waist, keeping your back straight.
  • Hold a barbell about shoulder width apart palms facing up.
  • Pull the weights up towards the bottom of your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Lower back down and repeat.

2. Pull-ups

Pull-ups are a great upper body workout. They primarily target your latissimus dorsi, but also work your deltoids, rhomboids, and biceps. 

  • Grab a pull-up bar with palms facing away from you and hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down.
  • Repeat as many times as you can.

3. Seated Cable Rows

Seated cable rows are excellent for targeting your upper back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, traps, and rhomboids. 

  • Sit at a cable row machine with your feet on the platform and knees slightly bent.
  • Grab the handle with both hands and sit upright.
  • Pull the handle towards your abdomen while keeping your back straight. To target your traps more, use a pull down bar and an underhand grip. 
  • Extend your arms back out and repeat.

4. Face Pulls

Face pulls are great for working the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and rotator cuff muscles. Not only do they work the upper back, they also improve overall shoulder health and mobility. 

  • Stand in front of a cable machine with the pulley at chest height.
  • Grab the ropes or handles with your palms facing each other.
  • Pull the handles towards your face while splitting your hands apart.
  • Slowly reverse the movement and repeat.

5. Reverse Flyes

Reverse flyes can help to strengthen the rhomboids and rear deltoids. For this exercise we suggest using a lighter weight you can control and hold at the top of the contraction. If you go too heavy you will have to swing the weight to get it up, which is way less effective. 

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and hinge forward at the waist.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to the sides until they're level with your shoulders.
  • Lower the weights back down and repeat.

Always start with a weight you can handle comfortably and increase gradually as you build strength. And as always, consult with a fitness professional if you're unsure about how to perform any exercise correctly or check out our video tutorials here. 

These upper back exercises will help you build strength, improve your posture, and make your back look extra thick. Give them a try today.

Back to blog

Experience Real Nutrition