8 Exercises for Strengthening Your Back

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Your back muscles may be one of the most neglected areas when it comes to strength training. And it isn't too surprising since we do not have a daily view of these muscles like we do our abs, chest, even our leg muscles. By focusing just a few minutes every week on building strong, well-defined back muscles you may be able enhance your posture as well as ward off lower back pain that many of us suffer from these days. Training these muscles may also help those of us who have a rounding of the shoulders from the weight of the breast or sitting at the computer for hours at a time.

The back is comprised of four major muscles which include the Latissimus Dorsi, the Trapezius, Rhomboids and the Erector Spinae. By targeting each muscle group, you should be well on your way to better posture and a well-toned back.

Wide Dumbbell Pull

Seated Lateral Pulldown

Seated Machine Row

Cobra and Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug

<a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/exercises.asp?exercise=272 " href="https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/exercises.asp?exercise=272 " blank"="">Assisted Pull-Up Machine


Back Extensions on Roman Chair

For more back exercises, view Coach Nicole’s Back Extensions on Ball and Slow Swimming on Ball from SparkPeople's Fitness library.

Do you often neglect strength training your back muscles? What is your favorite strength training exercise for the back?

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REDROBIN47 1/26/2020
Good exercises. Thank you. Report
NASFKAB 10/10/2019
Good but what to do since I cant do pullups??? Report
EMORRETI 6/29/2019
Nice article! Report
TOMORROW-C 6/7/2019
Rowing machine Report
My back hurts in the mornings. Started doing stretches. Report
REDROBIN47 4/3/2019
Great exercises. Thank you. Report
Thanks for the great information! :) Report
Thanks for the info! Report
Thanks. Report
What are the non-machine ways of strengthening the same exercises (like using body weight or flexible bands or dumbbells etc? Report
I need to do some of these. Report
I have to try them. Thanks! Report
Thanks Report
Link don't work. And this is not a cobra! Report
Many of the links don't work anymore. Report
Not to be too picky but the exercise called 'cobra' is actually called 'boat' in my yoga class. Cobra is a more extreme stretch but uses the arms for support. Report
I don't neglect my back at all. I love doing lat pulldowns, shrugs, front and side raises with db's, extensions, dead lifts and rows. I also have a few stretches that I do sometimes, that I learned during physical therapy when I hurt my back. I do have to be careful that I don't overdo it, as my back is still not like it used to be. Report
Interesting, my SO and I were talking about that the other day! He agreed with me that the core and back muscles were the most ignored muscles in a workout. I am not able to do pull ups and many other exercises due to permanent nerve injury in neck. I use yoga to work the back and core instead. Report
I have done about all the exercises listed and usually do at least 2 of these when I am working the back. I have lost a significant part of my inches bu losing back fat. Report
I do work outs on my Bowflex that help the muscles in my back..
I carried over 30lbs of back fat there & YES I want to work the muscles there.. Report
Thanks for a great article. I was reminded this spring how important it is to take care of my back when I sprained it :( I do a lot more stretching now, but I am looking forward to incorporating these into my work out. Always good to change things up a bit! Report
I am 65 (almost 66) and have been doing strength training for a few years. This past spring I started doing yoga. I am so much stronger now and my posture is much, much better. I think that a lot of people don't realize that you can increase your core strength and your back strength no matter how old you are. Report
In past, when I didn't know anything about good fitness, I neglected my core and back muscles. These days, I always do exercises that work my entire body. I make sure I do plenty of exercises to keep my back muscles strong.

What exercises do I like for my back ??? Push ups are my personal favorite. I also do plank, side plank, bent over rows, single arm rows, dead lifts and occasionally pull ups. I really need to work on those.

I also do yoga. there are many poses that are great for the back. Down facing dog in particular is one of the best.
No, I don't neglect my back muscles. They are important in all my daily functions!

Actually the best I've ever done for my back & neck was regular (4+ days per week) volleyball playing. I took a summer class and the regular exercise combined with the warm-ups & cool-down stretches, etc. really helped strengthen and protect my back.

Since those college days, the best exercise I've found is 2-3 (hrs) days a week of Pilates. The balance of core & back & more really helps this "older" body manage the demands of life. Report
A few of these are new to me, will incorporate into my back routine, thanks. Report
Great. Report
Thanks for the info! I suffer from bulging and herniated discs in the lower back and in the neck and am surprised how much my added exercise has helped with the pain! I am also a writer and sit at a computer all day...I have a numb neck by the end of the day! I do some of these exercises already, but will certainly add the others! Report
I am doing P90x and there are two days in the first month a week that focus on back, Lots of pull-ups... if you can't get to a gym to use an assisted machine, just try doing them at home but use a chair to help you out... I for one can't yet do a pull-up on my own but the goal is to get one or two by the time I complete the P90x series. Report
I never knew how much I was hurting my back while running cross-country and track in high school until I finally popped something and had to do P.T. to rehab. They gave me a bunch on exercises that I could do in the comfort of my own home without weights or equipment. The "superman", "bridge", "planks", "back flatenners", leg lifts, and lots of stretching sure did wonders for both my abs and my back. My trunk has never been so strong. Report
I was a little disappointed to see that most of these exercises used a machine as I don't belong to a gym and I don't have an exercise machine at home. I do use the exercises listed that don't require a machine right now in my routine. Report
I do yoga 4 times a week for an hour a day, trying to balance out all the running I do (I'm training for a marathon), and I've been complimented on my back muscles by a fellow runner. I can't see back there, but apparently something's working! Report
Ride a motorcycle. With the full face helmet and the 70mph wind pushing on your chest for hours at a time (even with a windscreen), you will need strong back and neck muscles. And it's FUN! Report
I sit at a desk... so this will be great exercises for me to work on. Thanks for the article! Report
Hey Guys,

After reviewing your comments, I elected to swap the upright row with the Assisted Pull-Up machine. While there is some controversy with the upright row, I erred on the side to swap out this exercise.

THANKS for the feedback.

Nancy Report
I was just about to make the same comment as BRITOMART. I thought we were supposes to do the wide dumbbell pull as a substitute since it targgets the back without pinching the shoulders. Report
I admit I was surprised that, one day we are warned that upright rows are one of the five exercises we are not to do ( http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource
and the next told it's good for our backs.

A more mixed message than usual, no? Report
i needed this!! =) Report
Thanks for the info. I sit at a computer all day and have been having some lower back pain lately. I do seem to forget those muscles back there. Will try these exercises and work on that area!!! Report
Great reminder to work on the sexy, sculpted back muscles! Report
I enjoy using the back strengthening equipment at the gym. After several session I could notice a difference in my posture and the lower back pain I had experienced every once in a while has now disappeared. Thank you for the article and examples! Report
I love working my back! I don't hit the gym all that often, so mostly freeweights at home. My faves are rows, reverse fly, dead lifts, and renegades (alternating row). I also like doing assisted pullups when I hit the gym. Working up to unassisted...woohoo! Report
I am currently in physical therapy to correct my bad posture and spinal abnormalities. I think its important for everyone though to do these exercises to prevent pain in the future, whether your job is active or sedentary. The one thing that kills my back the most is driving, I can't exactly figure out why after driving any more than 15-20 minutes I am completely knotted up and sore, I even have one of those lumbar supporters and a wedge to sit on. I can only hope that the exercises will help because its getting very restricting on my life style to not be able to drive longer distances because of my back pain. Report
Leslie Sansone includes exercises for the back with the stretchy band in Walk Slim 4 Mile Walk and stretches on the floor after the 3 Mile Walk Your Belly Trim. Report
Yeah, I definitely work on the back muscles...helps me be able to workout more on other parts of the body and improves sitting position and standing more up-right. Report
This is a great article. I love doing back exercises - they feel really good. The only thing I wonder about though is the upright rows. I've seen articles on SP and elsewhere saying that they're an exercise you *shouldn't* do? Report
My glutes and shoulders could probably use more training. I do pulldowns quite frequently, but it's been a while since I've done rows. Thanks for reminding me to change things up! Report
I wish I could DO a pull up! ha Report
NOTHING beats pullups. Report