Have you be having a chronic tightening feeling in your upper back or a sharp pain in between the shoulder blades? These pain and aches are usually caused because of spending too much time in front of a computer, poor posture and excessive lounging on an extremely soft sofa.

You can enhance the strength of your mid and upper back muscles by using the following upper back exercises which are designed especially for strengthening these particular muscles. Before starting them, it is best to discuss the suitability of these exercises with your fitness trainer or physiotherapist. You can perform these exercises only if they do not cause or aggravate your pain.

Best Upper Back Exercises Without Weights


The Corkscrew Stretch

The corkscrew is a stretching exercise which helps in loosening the tightened and stiffened muscles which result in back pain and poor posture and also hamper your workouts. Get on all fours and bracing your core, put your right hand behind your head. Rotate the right elbow and shoulder up and away from the left arm until it is pointing to the ceiling. Hold this position for a minute to complete 1 repetition. Do 20 such repetitions before switching arms.


The Chin Finish (Pull Ups)

The chin finish is one of the best upper back exercises for the upper back and shoulders. It focuses on the muscles around your shoulder blade and helps in giving you rounded shoulders. Using an overhang grip, hang from a pull-up bar. Pull your chest up, close to bar and remain there for 20 seconds. Start with 5 repetitions and then add a weighted vest or dumbbell between your feet to add resistance.


Resisted Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The resisted shoulder blade squeeze is directed towards the shoulder blades and has to be performed using an elastic exercise material like Thera-band. Hold the band in both hands placed in front of you while sitting or standing with your palms facing up. Keep your elbows bend at right angles and close to your sides. Stretch the band by moving your arms in an outward motion while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Relax and then repeat 12 times.


Opposite Arm & Leg Raises

Start this exercise by lying on your tummy with your arms placed above your head. Slowly lift your right arm and left leg while keeping your knee and elbow straight and tightening the muscles of your buttock and back. Remain in this position for 2 seconds and then return to starting position. Repeat this exercise with the left arm and right leg. Do 10 repetitions on each side.



T-raise is another of the top back muscle exercises which requires a resistance band. Hold one handle of a resistance band in either hand while stepping on the middle part of the band with one of your feet. Keep one foot at a distance of a step and a half in front of the other. With your palms gripping the handles in a facedown position, raise your arms to your sides, up to shoulder height while tightening your core.


Arms Above Head in Lying

Start this exercise by lying on your tummy with your arms placed on your sides in the air and your shoulder blades squeezed together. Keeping your arms in the air, slowly move them above your head and then bring them back to their starting position. Perform at least 3 sets of 10 repetitions each if the exercise isn’t causing you any pain.

Best Upper Back Exercises with Weights


Dumbbell Single-Arm Overhead Squat

This is an excellent exercise for the whole body. Hold two dumbbells of varying weights in the hands while standing with feet apart and toes pointing straight. While keeping both arms straight hold the lighter dumbbell overhead in your weaker hand and the heavier dumbbell in between your legs. Lower yourself until your thighs become parallel to the ground while keeping the lighter dumbbell overhead. Now rise up to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15 reps each.


Lat Pullover

Lat Pullover is one of the best upper back exercises which focuses on the lats. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, holding a weight in each hand above your chest while keeping your arms straight. Lower your arms carrying the weights behind your head until they are in line with the torso and just above the ground. Pull the arms back to the starting position Do 2 sets of 15 reps each.


Bent Over Row

While keeping your knees slightly bent, reach down to pick up a dumbbell in each hand from the floor. Lift the dumbbells up until the arms become parallel to the rest of the bent over body. Take a short pause and then lower the dumbbells back to the floor. While performing this exercise make sure to move only your arms and keep your back straight.



Dead lift is an excellent upper back exercise. Grab a dumbbell in each of your hands while standing in an upright position. Flexing your hips and knees, lower yourself down to the floor while keeping the arms holding the dumbbells straight. Take a short pause and then rise up to the starting position. Remember to inhale when lowering down and exhale when returning back to the starting position. You can also practice sumo deadlifts besides the conventional deadlifts. Click here to know more.


Twisting Bend to Opposite Foot

From a standing position, reach down and grab a dumbbell in either hand and keep it just above one of your feet while keeping the knees slightly bent. Lift the dumbbells and get back to a standing position after which lower down again but on the other foot. Make sure to keep a slight arch in your knees while performing this exercise.


Back Fly

Back Fly is among the best upper back exercises that works the entire muscles of the upper back. Lie down on your chest on a bench and with your elbows at right angles grab a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells until the arms become parallel to the floor and after a short pause lower the dumbbells back. Remember to inhale when lowering the dumbbells and exhale when raising them up.

Final Note: Keep Exercises Varied with Proper Form

Variety is of paramount importance when training back muscles especially if you are following volume style training. Keep in mind though that proper intensity and form are also essential for effective stimulation of the desired muscle. If you don’t incorporate these two factors in your back workout then you will miss out on growth irrespective of whether the workout is according to your choice or not.


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