Discover the Best Upper Body Exercises: For Your Back

Discover the Best Upper Body Exercises: For Your Back

We are starting with our “Discover Series” by sharing our favorite exercises to target your back. Throughout this series we are going to share with you various exercises, and specific workouts, for your entire body. Starting with the back was no mistake. Training the back is a favorite in our gym. Not just because we enjoy it, but because it is essential for maintaining a properly balanced muscular system in our society today.

Read on for exactly HOW to strengthening your back!

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Why Should We Train Our Back?

The muscles of your back include your latissimus dorsi, deltoid, rhomboids, and teres major and minor to name a few. It is really important to strengthen these muscles to open up the anterior of our shoulders. Improving posture, elongating the appearance of our body and walking with more confidence.

The anterior of our shoulders get extremely tight as we sit, hunched over, all day and from any poor posture tendencies. Strengthening posterior of the shoulder and stretching the anterior of the shoulder will help us to open up that chest.

Plus who doesn’t love the way a tank top hangs or a dress lays when they have a well developed back!

Our favorite ways to strengthen our back

There are a many variations of every exercise we listed below. We started with our favorite version of it and then offered some variations. The best advice we can give you is include some variation in your workouts to keep seeing progress and keep the workouts engaging. There was recently a Ted Talk on how important exercise is to brain function. Continuing to challenge yourself through exercise should be an important part of your lifestyle.


In a prone position, start with your hands overhead and thumbs together. Proceed by moving your hands out away from your body, keeping your elbows almost straight, and then bringing them back toward your glutes. This should work to engage and burn out those posterior shoulders!

Variations: Standing – on a bosu or on single leg, paused, one arm at a time.

Reverse Flys

The reverse fly is executed by holding two dumbbells out in front of you in a forward hinged position with a tight core. With a slight bend in the elbows and palms facing in, control the weights out to the side as you retract your shoulder blades. Be sure to really pinch those shoulder blades to effectively target the rhomboids.

Variations: Pause at the outer most point, stand with a single leg balance, rotate your palms to face up or down. 

Bent Over Rows

Start by standing in a bent over (or hinged) position with your back flat and core engaged, and the weights hanging directly below your shoulders. With your palms facing inward, pull the weights up toward your ribcage by retracting your shoulders blades, allowing your elbows to pass your ribcage. Avoid any flexion or extension (bending) at your wrists.

Variations: Use an underhand grip, use an overhand grip, pause at the top, alternate sides per rep. 

Single Arm Rear Delt Raise

Holding a dumbbell in one arm, have a slightly bent over position with your opposite hand resting on your knee and the weight hanging directly below your shoulder. With a straight arm, extend the weight back while keeping your chest forward to not activate the anterior shoulder. All the work should be in your posterior deltoid!

Variations: use a resistance band, eccentric work as you very slowly resist the force and control the return to starting position.

Banded Pull-Apart

Grabbing both sides of a long resistance band, grip the band according to the difficulty you would like with palms facing up. The closer your hands are together, the more difficult. In a smooth and controlled movement, pull the band apart with your hands while bringing your shoulder blades together for great posterior shoulder work.

Variations: Diagonally pull the band apart, elbows fully bent or fully extended.

Band Face Pulls

Looping the band around a pole, banister or anything stable you have available, grip the band with palms facing toward the floor. Pull the band toward your forehead to activate the deltoids for great back work. As always, keep the core engaged to prevent low back extension (arching).

Variations: Try the exercise in a hinges position for more core work and increased back load, single arm.

How to Use these Exercises

Although I love all muscles of the upper body, the back has to be my favorite to work especially in today’s desk posture society! For more upper body workouts, check out our Youtube page by searching Pure Fitness WI! Use the links below to find a great back workout today!

On Our YouTube Page you can find more than just back workouts! Subscribe to our page for tons of great 30 minute workouts and fresh new content on a regular bases.  If you need any of the equipment used today, check out the links below.



Resistance Band:







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