Home WorkoutsBack & Triceps Workouts The 5 Best Upper Back Exercises to Build Strength and Size

The 5 Best Upper Back Exercises to Build Strength and Size

by Fit Wth Guru
upper back exercises

The back is one of the biggest and most essential parts of the body. The back has two forms of muscles: the lower and upper. There must be the involvement of muscles on both the upper and lower parts of the back to construct a strong back.  The upper back exercises strengthen the back muscles. As the muscles are in opposition to the core, they execute their functions primarily by striving for the erect pose.

Your posture will be impacted, and back pain may begin if you lack a strong upper back. You must focus on certain upper back exercises to get depth into your back muscles. A broad pair of shoulders and healthy shoulder muscles are the results of having a well-developed upper back. The anatomy of your back must be understood.

There are multiple muscles in your back that support and shield your spine. You need to understand the anatomy of your back, which will help you get more from your upper back exercises. Look at the anatomy of the back muscle is as follows:

  • Latissimus dorsi: a big muscle that allows the shoulder joint to move. It extends to the rear of the rib cage from beneath the arm.
  • Trapezius: It stretches from your neck to your mid-back. Additionally, it is crucial for shoulder function.
  • Rhomboids: Two muscles are located deep within the trapezius. The retraction of your shoulder blades is caused by them. 
  • Erector spinae: Lateral and spinal extension movements are governed by three muscles.

Also, there are many benefits to training your upper back. Some of these are as follows:

  1. Improved posture
  2. Confidence
  3. Prevent back pain
  4. Stabilize the spine

upper back exercises

5 Best Upper Back Exercises

Here we explore the top upper back workouts that give you a wider back and strength in your back muscles. Also, there are many upper back exercises, but we talk about the best five workouts that show quick results in a great way.

  1. Bent-Over Row
  2. One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  3. Lat Pulldown
  4. Seal Row
  5. Deadlift

1. Bent-Over Row

A compound exercise, the bent-over row works the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, and trapezius, which are the muscles in your upper back. To help stabilize the movement, it also works your forearms, biceps, and core. It is also one of the best upper back exercises.

How to do it:

  • Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet when standing, and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip that is marginally wider than your shoulder. As a variant, you can also hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • As if you were going to touch your butt to a wall behind you, gently bend your knees, and thrust your hips back. By using your core, you can keep your back flat during the exercise. At the bottom of the hinge, your torso should be approximately parallel to the floor.
  • Pull your elbows back and up while squeezing your shoulder blades together to shift the weight toward your belly button. Throughout the exercise, the bar or dumbbells should move close to your body.
  • Keeping the weight plates slightly off the ground and your arms outstretched, gradually reduce the weight back to the beginning position.

upper back exercises

2. One-Arm Dumbbell Row

A fantastic workout for building stronger upper back muscles, especially the lats and traps, is the one-arm dumbbell row. Work on one side of your body at a time, as it’s a unilateral exercise that can assist in finding and correcting imbalances between your left and right sides. It is also one of the finest upper back exercises, and you must add this to your routine.

How to do it:

  • With your palm toward your body and a neutral grip, pick up a dumbbell with one hand. For a slightly different emphasis on the muscles exercised, you can also employ a supinated grip (palm facing up).
  • When your torso is almost parallel to the floor (or slightly higher), hinge forward at the hips. Throughout the exercise, keep your spine neutral and your back flat. For more core involvement, you can execute this exercise with your free hand behind your back or with your other hand supported by a bench.
  • Drive your elbow back towards your body to start the row by retracting your shoulder blade. As you pull the weight, visualize pulling your shoulder blades together.
  • Raise the dumbbell to your side until your elbow touches (or slightly exceeds) your body. Make sure you lift the weight with your back muscles rather than your biceps.
  • Return the dumbbell to its beginning position gradually and under control.

upper back exercises

3. Lat Pulldown

For developing your back muscles, particularly your lats (latissimus dorsi), the lat pulldown is an excellent workout. Additional back, shoulder, and arm muscles may also be worked. If you want quick results, then you must add this variety to your routine of upper back exercises.

How to do it:

  • Place your feet level on the floor and position yourself on the lat pulldown machine, bending your knees to a 90-degree angle.
  • Using an overhand grip (palms facing forward), take a wide grip on the bar that is marginally wider than shoulder width. Later on, you might try varying the grip breadth.
  • Take a breath, keep your back straight, and slant back just a little bit (a few degrees). Avoid contortioning or hunching over.
  • Bring the bar down to your upper chest by using your core and putting your elbows tight to your body. When you perform the movement, picture yourself pressing your shoulder blades together.
  • As you lower the bar, release your breath. At the bottom of the exercise, give your back muscles a little squeeze.
  • Avoid letting the weight swing up as you take another breath, and gradually release the bar to return to the beginning position.

upper back exercises

4. Seal Row

A weightlifting exercise that works the muscles in your upper back, particularly your lats and posterior shoulders, is the seal row. The main distinction between this exercise and the chest-supported row is that you lie face-down on a bench to complete the row. It is also one of the best upper back exercises.

How to do it:

  • Adjust the bench so that the backrest is nearly horizontal, resulting in a small inclination. For optimal alignment, you can use weight plates to raise the end of the bench.
  • Place your head at the end of the bench, flat on your back, without any inclination. With your feet flat on the ground, extend your legs straight down the bench.
  • Using an overhand hold that is broader than your shoulder width, grab the barbell. Extend your elbows a bit.
  • Maintain your lower back flat against the bench by contracting your glutes and core. This keeps your upper back isolated and helps you avoid arching.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the barbell towards your chest while keeping your back straight. At the peak of the exercise, the barbell should ideally make contact with the bench.
  • At the peak of the contraction, pause for a brief moment before lowering the barbell back down to the starting position while keeping your arms fully extended.

5. Deadlift

The deadlift is a complex exercise that targets your upper back and other major muscular groups. To enhance your overall deadlift form and strength, there are deadlift variations that concentrate more on the upper back than others. You can also strengthen your upper back with certain workouts. It is also one of the finest upper back exercises.

How to do it:

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell with hands that are just a little bit broader than your shoulders. It is best if the bar is near your shins. Hold your back straight and brace your core.
  • To grab the bar, drop yourself and push your hips back. Throughout the descent, keep your chest up and your back flat.
  • Stretch your hamstrings and glutes to lift the weight off the ground. As you lift, keep the bar near your torso.
  • Maintain a lofty stance, your shoulders back, your core tight, and the bar at hip height. To return the weight to the ground, slowly reverse the motion. Throughout, maintain a straight back and an active core.

upper back exercises

People Also Ask

Why are upper back exercises important?

There are various reasons why upper back workouts are important. First of all, they support proper posture by fortifying the muscles in charge of restraining the shoulders and preserving spinal alignment. Robust muscles in the upper back not only stabilize the shoulder joints but also lessen the chance of pain and injury. 

Can I do upper back exercises at home?

You can do a lot of upper back workouts at home with very little equipment. Without the use of specialist gym equipment, you can target your upper back muscles with bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, reverse flyes with dumbbells, and resistance band exercises like pull-apart and seated rows. 

Are upper back exercises safe for everyone?

The majority of people can safely perform upper back exercises, but to avoid injuries, it’s important to use the right form and technique. Start with less weight and concentrate on perfecting form for those who are new to exercising or have a history of back problems. Personalized advice and recommendations based on unique needs and restrictions can be obtained by consulting with a fitness specialist. 

What should I do if I experience pain during upper back exercises?

It’s critical to stop right away and evaluate your form and technique if you encounter pain when performing upper back exercises. An underlying problem, strained muscles, or poor form could all be the cause of pain during exercise. You must pay attention to your body and avoid pushing through discomfort.

Can upper back exercises help with posture correction?

Yes, a major factor in better posture is building strength in the upper back muscles. Maintaining spinal alignment and supporting the shoulders are major functions of the muscles in the upper back. Through specific training regimens that strengthen these muscles and incorporate stretches and ergonomic modifications, people can enhance their posture and lessen the chance of forming bad postural habits.


People can reach their fitness objectives and reduce their risk of injury by including upper back exercises in a thorough workout regimen with appropriate form and technique. Upper back exercises provide many advantages, such as better posture, increased spinal stability, and a lower risk of back pain, whether they are done at home or in a gym.

The benefits of having a strong, well-developed upper back, which improves general health and well-being, can be realized by people who prioritize upper back training and include a range of exercises in their fitness regimens.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment