Upper Back Exercises - Live Long and Prosper!

Getting Started with Upper Back Exercises

It's never too late to start doing back exercises - it can be troublesome if you don't! Take it from me...

Not working out my back enough was one of the most important mistakes I made in my life. Granted, I was young, still in high school and the baseball coaches probably weren't as informed as they should have been, but I'm not going to make any excuses. I ended up with a bad stress fracture in my lower back due to a complete lack of muscle support. The increased stress caused my spine to fracture in a few places. In other words, I didn't do my lower and upper back exercises!

The problem is that I'm not the only one. This happens to tons of people around the world because of weak back muscles. No, they're not all breaking their backs, but they experience back pain that can often put them out of their line of work. In fact, back pain is the most common cause of disability in the U.S.! How long do you want to continue doing what you enjoy?

Your career, certain hobbies, playing games, enjoying your family - a lot of this depends on core stability and back muscle strength. For example, if you love bowling and you develop back problems, it probably won't be easy for you to continue the sport. Simply adding a lower and upper back exercises to your workout can minimize this adverse result!

It's easiest to use upper and lower divisions for your back muscles - they're different in many ways! Just because they're next to each other doesn't mean they do the same stuff! They require different exercises and weight loads. On this page, we'll be focusing on the upper back exercises. You can learn more about lower back exercises here.

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Benefits of Upper Back Exercises

spinal column Here're some great reasons to make sure you're doing you're doing your upper back exercises!

  • You'll feel better! No matter your age, gender or walk of life, having a strong back will carry you farther, longer and with confidence. For some of us, just the thought of having less back pain when waking up in the morning is excellent incentive.
  • You'll look better! Doing upper back exercises will make you look healthier by broadening those shoulders and coincidentally thinning out those love handles (while also doing the complementary lower back exercises!). You'll also notice a better posture - you'll be standing up straight, full of confidence and energy. Drooping shoulders look weak and less confident. Yes ladies, having broad shoulders isn't a bad thing! No, you're not going to turn into a linebacker, but you'll simply look and feel more confident and slender.
  • Daily tasks will become much easier. It may seem obvious, but your back is the "backbone" to daily living. Everything you do from standing, sitting, walking or any other task requires some work from your back muscles. For example, sitting with bad posture with weak back muscles causes a huge amount of lower back strain - this is a fantastic way to jump start that life-long back pain. Start doing your upper back exercises to improve your posture and eliminate the possibility of back pain. If you already have back pain, doing some back workouts should help significantly. But remember, just like anything else, don't overdo it!
  • Strong back muscles help maintain shoulder health! Believe it or not, your back is highly involved in "pulling" motions such as opening doors, holding on to your dog on a leash, or holding on to the rope while you're water skiing. A strong back will make sure that you're not putting too much stress on those valuable shoulders by having great posture and excellent stability. Never let one muscle group do all the work!
  • Avoid injuries!. Over-straining your back in any given activity like carrying heavy items or even sleeping in an awkward position can be very painful. Having strong back muscles helps to eradicate even the possibility of these debilitating conditions. Do your upper back exercises and have the confidence to always get the job done!

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    Basics of Upper Back Exercises

    lat pulldown

    There're 4 divisions of upper back exercises...

    • Pull ups
    • Pulldowns
    • Pullovers
    • Rows
    • It's usually recommended to do at least one exercise from each group for a complete upper back workout. Before I get into any of the actual workouts (which come at the bottom of the page), let's understand what these categories mean...

      Lat Pulldowns

      With a pulldown, as the name implies, you generally grab a bar above your head and pull it down. This type of movement works the rombhoids, trapezius muscles (traps), latissimus dorsi (lats) along with your shoulders, biceps and chest. Remember that these back workouts all require strength from other muscle groups. It's very easy to reach a weight plateau when these accessory muscles aren't developed. In other words, the strength of your arms and shoulders will determine how much you'll be able to work your back muscles. You'll have a hard time developing your back muscles in this situation.

      Remember, no cheating! If you find yourself wiggling and struggling to get the weight down, use a lower weight!

      Try these pages for more info on muscles... Back Muscles, Shoulder Muscles, Arm Muscles, and Chest Muscles. Enjoy!!

      Pull Ups
      latissimus dorsi back muscles

      Again, as the name implies, you'll be grabbing something above your head and pulling yourself up, hence a pull-up. Sometimes this is grouped in with the pulldowns because they work the same muscle groups in a very similar way, just in opposite directions. Again, your lats, traps and and rhomboids are working hard, but rely on effort from your chest, biceps and shoulders to get the job done. Pulldowns and pull-ups are excellent for developing great posture and broad shoulders.


      Pullovers generally require that your arms move in a circular fashion. For example, hold your arms straight above your head. Keep them straight as you slowly let them down so they're now straight out in front of you. This is a pullover!

      This type of back exercise focuses on your lats, but also requires accessory help from your arms, shoulders and chest. Again, not having developed these other areas limits the development of your back. Be sure to synchronize all your workouts so that your muscles are strong enough to support all of your other lifts. Don't just focus on one area! For example, having weak arms compared to your back muscles will strongly inhibit your ability to further develop your back. If you reach this plateau, start focusing more on developing your arms so that you can continue to build back muscle (and build chest muscle for that matter).


      rowing exercises Yes, rowing. Pretty self-explanatory. Basically you'll be pulling a barbell or dumbbell towards your body, with your back straight. Maintain good posture! Some of these include the t-bar rows, lawnmower rows and dumbbell rows. The only difference between these back exercises and the pull-ups and pulldowns is that the rows do not involve your chest muscles in any way. These again are great for posture as you're always forced to keep your back straight!

      In the extreme near future, The bottom of this page will be loaded with video demonstrations of all kinds of lower and upper back exercises. Check back often as the site is being built rapidly!

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