5 Amazing Upper Back Exercises You Might Have Forgotten About

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Let’s be honest… when you’re standing in the mirror flexing, you take a peek over your shoulder at your upper back.

Beyond that, a strong upper back is also necessary for your big 3 lifts!

Your bench press, squat, and deadlift all benefit from a robust upper back, providing stability, power, and injury prevention.

When focusing on your upper back, don’t forget to utilize these five amazing accessory exercises that might have slipped off your radar:

1. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a classic exercise that targets your latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in your upper back. This compound movement also engages your biceps, forearms, and shoulders, making it a comprehensive upper body workout. Pull-ups can be challenging, especially for beginners, so it’s essential to start with modifications that suit your fitness level. Here are a few tips:

  • Assisted Pull-Ups: Use an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands to make the exercise more manageable.
  • Negatives: Focus on the eccentric (lowering) phase by jumping or stepping up to the top position and slowly lowering yourself down.
  • Varied Grips: Experiment with different grips (wide, narrow, underhand) to target different parts of your back and arms.

2. Rows

Rows are indispensable for targeting the muscles between your shoulder blades, crucial for a strong and well-defined upper back. There are several variations, each offering unique benefits:

  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: Great for isolating each side of your back, ensuring balanced development.
  • Bent-Over Barbell Rows: This compound movement engages your entire back, core, and even your legs to a degree.
  • Seated Cable Rows: Provides constant tension throughout the movement, which can enhance muscle activation and growth.

Remember to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement and maintaining a flat back to avoid injury.

3. Face Pulls

Face pulls are an often-overlooked exercise that targets your upper back and shoulders, particularly the rear deltoids and rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent shoulder injuries and improve posture. To perform face pulls:

  • Attach a rope to a cable machine at chest height.
  • Stand facing the machine and grasp the rope with an overhand grip.
  • Pull the rope towards your face, flaring your elbows out to the sides.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak contraction.

Face pulls are excellent for balancing out the shoulder muscles, especially if you do a lot of pressing exercises.

4. Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is another fantastic exercise for your upper back and shoulders, targeting the posterior deltoids and the rhomboids. This exercise helps to improve posture and shoulder stability. Here’s how to perform a reverse fly:

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells and bend over at the hips with your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your back flat and let the dumbbells hang down from your shoulders.
  • Lift the dumbbells out to the side in an arc, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with control.

You can perform reverse flies seated, standing, or lying face down on an incline bench for added variety.

5. Superman

While the Superman exercise primarily targets your lower back, it also engages your upper back muscles, making it a comprehensive movement for spinal stability and overall back strength. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie face down on the ground with your arms extended in front of you and your legs straight.
  • Simultaneously lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground as high as you can.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower back down with control and repeat.

Supermans can be modified by lifting only your arms or legs if the full version is too challenging initially.

The bottom line is…

Incorporating these five exercises into your routine can help you build a stronger, more defined upper back, which is crucial for both aesthetics and performance.

A robust upper back supports your big lifts, improves posture, and helps prevent injuries.

So, next time you’re planning your workout, don’t forget these often overlooked yet highly effective exercises.

Keep grinding!