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6 Best Upper Back Exercises to Help You Get a Better Posture 

Strengthen your back. image via Unsplash/Sule Makaroglu
Strengthen your back. image via Unsplash/Sule Makaroglu
Natalie P.

The upper back is a sensitive area for most people. It can often be a cause for discomfort or dysmorphia. A lot of people struggle with postural issues, which can be attributed to a weak upper back.

The upper back consists of your lats, scapulae, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles. All of these play a role in supporting the weight of your upper body, and are therefore prone to injuries or discomfort.

Bad posture can cause discomfort. Image via Unsplash/Keenan Constance
Bad posture can cause discomfort. Image via Unsplash/Keenan Constance

The root of almost all postural issues is the the upper back. When the upper back is weak or out of shape, it can lead to chronic postural issues. But the good news is that this is something you can work on and improve, simply by strengthening your upper back.

Whether you’re at the gym or at home, add the following exercises to your upper body routine to strengthen that upper back and fix your posture.

1) Supermans

Named after the position adopted during this exercise, supermans are an effective base movement for the upper back that can even be added to your warm-up routine.

• Lie down on your stomach and place your arms straight ahead, keeping your legs straight too. Face your palms towards each other and point your fingers and toes out.

• Squeeze your upper back and glutes to lift your arms and legs off the ground. Hold this pose for a few seconds.

• Slowly lower your limbs back to the floor.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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2) Inverted rows

Also known as Australian pull-ups, inverted rows are an extremely effective exercise for the back. If you’re trying to unlock your first pull-up, inverted rows are a great way to start. You would need a pull-up bar or TRX bands.

• Face the bar and grab it, placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself below the bar and straighten your body, aligning your hips with your shoulders and feet. Straighten out your arms.

• Pull yourself up to the bar, leading with your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades and try to get your chest to the bar.

• Lower yourself back down to the starting position.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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3) Lat pulldowns

This is another popular exercise for the upper back. Most gyms come equipped with a lat pulldown machine, but this can even be performed on a cable machine with the appropriate bar attachments.

• Grab both ends of the bar in either hand and place yourself on the seat of the lat pulldown machine. Extend your arms fully and straighten your back.

• Pull the bar down to your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull.

• Slowly straighten your arms up above you again and return to the starting position.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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4) Seated rows

Most lat pulldown machines also come with the adjustments and a separate cable and pulley for the seated row. Use the V-handle attachment for this.

• Seat yourself on the seat of the machine and grab the V-handle in both hands. Lean back slightly, extending your arms straight.

• Pull the handle back towards you, and pull it to your diaphragm. Keep your elbows in the same line and do not let them flare out.

• Slowly release the handle and let your arms straighten out fully again.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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5) Dumbbell bent-over rows

Although typically performed with a barbell, this exercise is just as effective with dumbbells. You can choose to bend over a bench, or perform this without one.

• Stand straight with your feet hip-distance apart. hold the dumbbells by your sides.

• Hinge forward at your hips. Allow your knees to hinge slightly as well to keep yourself stable. Let your arms fall straight down and suspend the dumbbells below your shoulders.

• Draw your elbows close to the body and lift the dumbbells up towards your chest.

• Slowly release your arms back down to the starting position.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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6) Face pulls

This exercise is great for strengthening the traps and improving posture. You can use the cable machine with the rope attachment for this.

• Face the cable machine and grab the ends of the rope in a supinated grip, i.e. with your thumbs facing you.

• Pull the ends of the rope toward the sides of your head. Point your elbows out and bring the ends of the rope to the sides your forehead.

• Slowly release the rope and extend your arms fully to return to the starting position.

• Repeat the move for 12 to 15 reps.

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Remember, good posture isn’t just about exercise. You need to constantly remind yourself to keep your upper back active and straight at all times to avoid slouching. Postural issues can be hard to fix, but with consistency, you will start seeing a lot of improvement. Try these exercises and make them a regular part of your program, and your upper back will be stronger in no time!


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Edited by Prem Deshpande

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