A strong back is a source of great support to the entire human body throughout life. Unfortunately, it is also often neglected. Back muscles give power and bring stability to the body, but they often at the bottom of our to exercise list. A thick and strong back is important for daily functional movements and helps in achieving personal goals that require physical movements. Since back muscles are the hardest to train and are not easily visible to our eyes, many of us choose to skip upper back exercises in our daily fitness routine.
It is worth noting that the upper back muscles and shoulders are the largest and most prominent muscles of the human body. Neglecting the development of these muscles may not be a great idea in the long run. Therefore, it is very important to train and strengthen upper body muscles for various reasons. A wide variety of upper back muscle exercises can help achieve a well-developed and strong back.
The upper back includes several large and small muscle groups that must be conditioned. When talking about the upper back, it includes trapezius (traps), latissimus dorsi (lats), deltoids, teres minor, teres major, infraspinatus and rhomboid major. All of these muscles together perform several functions. This is why strengthening the back muscles is not a choice, it is a mandate. These muscles are not only important for sports but also play a major role in our daily lives. At the same time, it is vital to maintaining good posture while standing or sitting. In addition, stronger the back muscles, better the protection to the spine; the structure that holds the entire body together and responsible for several nervous system functions. Meanwhile, aesthetically, these muscles play a great role in giving men the most desired V-shape torso and women, the hourglass figure.
Why Training Back Muscles is Important
Every day we perform several movements that involve back muscles, such as sitting for long hours on desks at our workstation, standing in the metro while on our way to work, carrying loads on our back, playing our favorite sports, bending, turning and many other active movements. But we still don’t pay attention to these muscles. As mentioned above, the upper back consists of several muscles and each one of it has its own function to perform.
- Trapezius: The primary function of the traps is to stabilize and move the scapula, the shoulder blade.
- Latissimus dorsi: The main function is the movement of the shoulder joint. Extension, adduction and internal rotation of shoulders.
- Teres minor: It supports the external rotation of the shoulder joint.
- Teres major: It is a medial rotator and it assists in some movements of the humerus.
- Rhomboid major: It acts as the retractor of the scapula, pulling it inwards, towards the vertebral column.
- Infraspinatus: It is one of the four muscles of the rotator cuff responsible for externally rotating the humerus and stabilizing the shoulder joint.
- Deltoids: This muscle comes into action at the time of shoulder extensions, shoulder horizontal adduction, and shoulder external rotation.
Training the upper back will target these muscles. Each one of them is important for the smallest of all movements. Hence, it is important to incorporate some upper back strengthening exercises in our daily routine.
Besides, making these muscles will give you a sculpted body, improved posture, reduced backache issues, help performing several back exercises effectively, enable you to lift weight easily, rev up your metabolism, prevent injury and pain in neck and shoulder, strengthen deeper muscles of the body, and provide great support to the pelvis and spine. One should never underestimate the upper back workouts. It is crucial for the development of symmetrical body and overall fitness. Below are some of the best upper back exercises for everyone.
- Barbell Deadlift: This is a single back exercise that can fire up all the back muscles in the posterior region of the human body. This is more of a total upper body exercise that impacts muscles starting from upper traps to lower calves. However, it is not an exercise for a beginner. It is important to learn the right technique to do it in order to avoid any kind of injury and experience complete impact. Besides strengthening the muscles, this exercise also helps you burn calories and release muscle-building hormone. There are several variations to deadlifts. Let’s go through the conventional one, as it happens to be one of the best upper back barbell exercises. It is recommended to perform this workout first and if you are going with heavy barbells, fewer reps are completely fine.
Technique: Start by placing your feet under the Barbell bar. Feet should be hip-width apart. Bend over and take hold of the grip at the bar and lower down your hips in squatting position. Look straight ahead and keep your back straight. Lift the barbell off the floor, straighten up your entire body and hold this position for a few seconds and return the barbell to the floor.
- Lat Pulldown: As the name suggests, this upper back exercise works the latissimus dorsi and is incredibly effective. It is performed on a machine that consists of resistance and plates. If performed in the right manner, it can strengthen your upper body drastically. This is considered a great way of training upper back as it is simple to perform without fatiguing the triceps and biceps.
Technique: Ask the trainer to guide you through this workout. Find yourself sitting comfortably on the seat. Grasp the bar with a grip wider than shoulder-width and slowly pull the bar to the level of your chin and return the bar to the starting position. Do not move your torso. Do this for about 12 reps and don’t forget to breathe and keep your back straight.
- Bent-over Barbell Row: There are several variations of rowing, but this one is considered to give amazing results. It allows you to use more weight to push the muscle growth to its maximum potential. This particular exercise works and strengthens middle and lower traps, rhomboid major, rhomboid minor, upper traps, rear deltoids, and rotator cuff muscles.
Technique: Place a barbell on the floor and firmly place your feet under the bar. Grab hold of the implement with an underhand grip and bend forward. Take the bar to your upper abs and bring it down just above your feet. Do not place it back on the ground and repeat the movement at least 10 times.
- Chin ups: Pull-ups or chin ups are known as the king of back development exercises. This exercise is guaranteed to maximize the growth of upper back muscles and bring you closer to achieving a V-shape torso. It is perfect to build strength in upper back. There is a range of pull-ups to perform for a stronger and bigger back, such as classic pull-ups, behind-the-neck pull-ups, close-grip pull-ups, wide-grip pull-ups, L-sit pull-ups, archer pull-ups, iso pull-ups and more.
Technique: It is important to ace the basic pull-up method before proceeding to the advanced levels. Stand facing the bar and grab it firmly with hands shoulder-width apart. Slowly begin to lift the body from the ground and rise above the bar to the level of your chin. Hold this position for a few seconds and come back to the ground.
- Seated Cable row: For this workout, a cable row machine is a must. Therefore, it is best to perform this workout in the gym or a fitness club. It’s a beginner level exercise that targets back and forearm muscles. It is imperative that you learn to perform it in the right posture. Your back must be straight and abs engaged in to avoid injury and straining the back.
Technique: Find yourself in a comfortable position on the machine. Seek guidance from a professional. Place your feet on the footplate and sit with the back straight. Now, pull the handle towards your abdomen and move backward with the arms. Squeeze shoulder blades and hold the position for a second or two and return the handle forward.
- One-arm dumbbell row: It is fair to say that rowing in various forms is good for upper back exercises. This exercise focuses on lats, traps and other back muscles.
Technique: Choose a flat and sturdy bench and place dumbbells on both sides. Place one leg on top of the bench and bend your torso forward from the waist. Keep the other leg straight and reach out for the dumbbell. Your back must be straight and head and neck in alignment with the spine. Now, pull the weight straight to the side of your chest and lower the weight down to the starting position. Repeat the movement for at least 10 reps in each hand.
- Bridge: It is one of the best back exercises which must be a part of everybody’s routine who spend long hours sitting at a desk, car or couch. This exercise is amazing for people complaining of back pain. It is perfect to strengthen back muscles. It is a great upper back bodyweight exercise that does not require any equipment.
Technique: Lie down on your back with your hands fully extended on the sides, and knees folded towards your stomach. Engage your core and glutes and lift your lower body off the ground. Push the weight to the heels. Hold the position for as long as you can and come back down.
- Superman: As the name suggests, this exercise is a great way to accomplish the Superman physique and bulletproof back. Integrating this bodyweight movement in your exercise routine is a good idea because of its unique benefits. It enhances back development, increases core strength and improves balance in the body.
Technique: Lie down on your chest with your arms fully extended in the front and legs completely stretched at the back. Slowly lift your upper body and lower body off the ground like you are about to fly, like Superman in the movies. The body will find support on your stomach. Hold the position for a few seconds and then relax the body.
- Push-ups: You will be surprised to know that push-ups are not only great for chest and triceps, they also create an impact on the upper back, shoulders, and core. It is an amazing compound exercise that involves several muscle groups in the body. There are numerous variations, but it should only be practiced at advanced level.
Technique: This is one of the best and the most fundamental exercises to train muscles. Start on the ground, lying on the chest. P0lace hands underneath your shoulders. Keep your legs fully stretched and feet together. Slowly lift your body up into a plank pose. Make sure your hips and back are straight, and arms are fully extended. Now, slowly lower down your body and stop as the chest touches the ground and come back to the plank position.
- T Pushup: T Pushup is a total body workout to strengthen major muscle groups and joints. It is a great exercise to train shoulder girdle, obliques, the upper back, core body, and the chest. For T-Pushup, it is necessary that you develop the strength to perform the standard push-up first.
Technique: Start at the standard push-up position and go down for a push-up and come back. At the top, move away one hand from the floor and raise it towards the ceiling. Now twist your torso and gradually the entire body to the side. Make sure the body is straight at all times. Hold the position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
These are a few best upper back exercises that must be integrated into your training program. After you have performed these exercises, remember it’s a large muscle and it must be fueled well. Have enough protein and keep yourself hydrated.
Disclaimer: All exercises must be performed under the supervision of certified professionals. If any medical condition exists, consulting a doctor is highly recommended to proceed with these exercises.