Best Upper Back Exercises

If your back isn’t the first muscle that you want to train when going to the gym, you’re not alone. A large number of people forget or simply fail to effectively perform lower back exercises and upper back exercises. This is unfortunate, because the back is a major muscle group which isn’t just important in everyday actions, but also often the determining factor in bodybuilding competitions.

Just because you can’t see it yourself, doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly visible to everyone around you.

If you’re serious about bodybuilding, even if you’re not considering competing, you’ll want to give 100% to the upper and lower back, because it’s just as important as your other muscle groups. So, what are the best upper back exercises you ask? Let me discuss a few of my favorites below.


The Bent-Arm Barbell Pullover is a great upper back exercise that uses a special grip in order to allow for heavier weights as well as to target the upper back more effectively. This is a great starter to your back workout, because it truly stimulates and stretches the entire upper body. Think of this one as your warm-up. I recommend 3 or 4 sets of about 10-15 repetitions each. You want to use the most weight that you can handle and do these with 100% intensity for optimum results.


Next on our list of upper back exercises is the Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown or Cable Pullover. It’s a wonderful exercise that will work the upper back effectively while at the same time giving a concentrated workout to your lats. Form is key during the Cable Pullover.

The chest should be sticking out and the lower back should be tight while your perform this exercise. I recommend a few more sets (3 or 4) with the same 10-15 repetitions per set. However, remember that quality comes before quantity and you should adjust the number of sets/reps to make sure you are doing each rep to the best of your ability. Upper back gains can only be made if these exercises are properly executed.


The Close-Grip Lat Pulldown is one of the best upper back exercises. It still works the lats (and upper back), but in a different way. You will be using less weight and isolating the muscle more, so it will still give you the same workout you need, but stimulate your body differently.

Remember, form is still king (or queen, for the ladies), and a straight back with maximum contraction caused by pulling the handles all the way to the upper part of your chest is necessary for the perfect workout. Since this workout isn’t activating new muscles, but instead more of a finisher (one that simply retouches on everything you already did), you can do 1 or 2 less sets, with the same number of repetitions as before.

When you’re done, head over to lower back exercises and keep going so that you get a balanced, and complete workout. You’re bound to get a great looking back with a routine like this! Keep up the hard work, maintain proper form and never stop putting in the necessary effort for each rep and you’ll go far.

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