Best Back Exercises for Women’s Strong Upper Body

Back exercises are varied and can help define your muscles in ways you might not have imagined. Not only will defining your back muscles look fantastic, but they also help support you throughout the day. You’ll want to make the most of your workouts and with some simple to follow exercises you can better strengthen your body today!

Why Back Exercises Are Important

Back Exercises Are Important For Your Spine

When you strengthen the muscles that support your spine, you are helping to alleviate pressure on the spinal discs and connectors in the vertebrae called facet joints. These joints in your spine are critical to keeping away back stiffness. Incorporating dedicated back workouts into your overall fitness goals will help you avoid problems with back pain. Another reason to keep exercising your back is that back pain and depression go hand-in-hand.

How Often Should Women Do Back Exercises

Current training advice is to work for a muscle group up to three non-consecutive days a week. However, if you are lifting heavier weights, you should give your back muscles two or more days of rest before doing the same exercises. 

You can alternate back training days with abdominal and core strength training. Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint in the U.S., and it often can be avoided by strengthening core muscles. You should know that your glutes are considered a part of the core since they are connected to your pelvis as well as the back and abdominal muscles. 

As with any muscles, by strengthening them, you will increase the amount of weight your lower back can comfortably move, which means it will be better equipped to handle the same stress from your workouts and everyday life without getting as achy. If you are already achy, check out these top vitamins and supplements to help relieve back pain

Best Back Exercises for Women

In order to get your back in shape, we’ve listed some back exercises that every woman should add to her workout. Feel free to discover more once you’ve mastered these to mix things up and keep your back workout routine interesting. 

For an at-home back workout, you can do many exercises with no equipment at all, or you can start with a single pair of 3 to 5-lb. dumbbells, and acquire heavier weights as you build strength. You may wish to get a simple set with a variety of lightweights when starting.

Below are 5 of the best back exercises and how to perform them. After you do one set, take a few minutes breather and then build up until you can do more sets.

Upper Back Workouts

First up are some upper back workouts. Many of these also target the triceps and biceps, so you will have nicely toned arms as well as a strong, healthy back. 

Single-Arm Bent-Over Row:

  • Pick up a dumbbell and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bend forward from your hips with knees slightly bent. 
  • With one arm hanging from your shoulders and your palm facing toward your body, pull the dumbbell in toward your rib cage, while bracing your body with your other arm.
  • Make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the full inward pull. Pause, then lower back to start. That’s one rep. 
  • Do 20 reps on each side. 

For a variation, you can do the Single-Arm Underhand Bent-Over Row

  • While bending forward from your hips, rotate the hand on the working arm so that your palm is facing up. 
  • Pull the dumbbell toward your rib cage with your palms facing the ceiling. 
  • Do 20 reps on each side like the overhand row above. 

Alternating Bent-Over Row:

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, bend forward from your hips.
  • While bracing your core with one arm, pull one weight toward your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. 
  • Pause, and then lower back to start. 
  • Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.

Middle Back Exercises and Lower Back

Lat Pulldown

Lat pulldowns work the latissimus dorsi, the largest muscle in the upper body, and are best done in a gym. Here’s how to do them:

  • Leaning slightly back on the bench, puff up your chest. 
  • Gripping the lat bar, squeeze the shoulder blades together. 
  • The most common mistake that women make with the lat pulldown is to let their shoulders protract, and they end up pulling with their biceps. So while you’re doing these, try to think about pulling your chest up to the bar, without using your legs as leverage. 


Although it seems simple, this is one of the best back workouts. It works your lats, deltoids, and traps if you truly focus on engaging all of these muscles. Try to keep your chest and thighs lifted while doing them.

  • Lying face-down on a yoga mat, extend your arms in straight front of you and your legs behind you. 
  • Tightening your back and core, lift first your right hand and left leg off the mat at the same time. 
  • Then alternate sides, raising your left hand and lifting your right leg behind you. 
  • Keep “swimming” at a fast pace to elevate your heart rate.

Last Notes on Good Back Workouts

When you’re doing back exercises, maintaining form is key. Avoid the tendency to round your back. As you are starting, check your form with a spotter or check your form in a mirror if you are doing back exercises at home. For most back workout positions, the back should be flat, and your head kept in a neutral position. Remember to engage your core as well as the muscles in your back. 

Strengthening your back will help you lessen your risk for injuries and will make you stronger overall. This will make everyday activities like toting groceries, kids, or doing sports easier and more enjoyable.

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