Top 3 Favorite Upper Back Workouts (okay, 4) | Fit Friday

Alright, alright, yes. I picked 4. It’s strange because I was able to narrow down my favorite glute workouts to only three and that’s my favorite muscle to work out! But for upper back, I decided that I just couldn’t leave any of these four out!

I have recently found two new upper back workouts that are now essential to me, so that’s exciting (at least to a fitness addict it is exciting, you get it right?) and have two others that have been my go-to’s for a while now.

The thing about these specific movements is that they particularly target my upper back, not lower, and I truly feel them most in that area (meaning my arms don’t take the brunt of it). Sometimes when I’m doing back exercises, I don’t feel it in my back at all no matter how much I try to tighten my back muscles and make sure I’m doing the exercise correctly. I especially feel this way with one arm dumbbell rows and lat pull downs- which a lot of people love for back! I just don’t get it, but I know everyone is different.

Anyways, let’s get on it 🙂 Here are my personal favorites:

Also, in case you’re new here, I’m 6 months pregnant in these photos.

1. Bentover Barbell Rows

An oldie, but a goodie. I like these a lot better than one arm dumbbell rows (either the weight is too light and I don’t feel it, or too heavy and I only feel it in my arms). This is an easy, but effective workout I throw in to nearly every back workout.


Bend your knees, bend at your hips and keep your back straight. I like the grip seen above, but you don’t have to. Here is a demonstration of how to do it.

2. Lying Overhead Dumbbell Extensions 

I got this one my from husband who always did this during his back workouts. I think they do it because along with back, this hits your shoulders/traps and my husband loves them traps 😉 I hear online that some people feel this more in their arms or chest, but I hardly do at all. My upper back kills (in the best way) after this, so just try it for yourself!

I’m sorry that I can’t find the photo of me doing this and I cannot find this exact exercise online. Instead of lying with your whole back on the bench, you lie sideways with your neck and shoulders supported and legs/back in a bridge position. The arm movement is similar to a skull crusher or the pullover seen here. If you want to try this and have any other questions, just let me know!

3. Kneeling Isolateral Cable Pull Downs 

I found this workout in a video Heidi Somers posted recently and decided to try it. You get a really good stretch in your lats every time you reach up on each rep. Unlike traditional lat pull downs with both arms, doing these pull downs with one arm and on the cables, I’m really able to squeeze my back muscles on each rep.


Keep the cable in the top position and kneel down. Reach over your head towards the rack (really feel the stretch) and pull down until your elbow is bent as shown above (really squeezing your back muscles). Want a video? Here is the video where Heidi does this (skip to around 11:30).

4. Cable Rear Delt Flys

I’m pretty sure this is my new absolute favorite back/delt workout that I will do every back day now. I seriously feel it targeting that area so well. It was recommended to do this seated because I’m almost in my third trimester and I want to avoid putting additional stress or pressure on my abdomen and core. If you’re pregnant, have lower back back pain, or new to working out maybe try it seated, otherwise you can do it standing!


Here are instructions on how to do this standing up. If you do them seated, you will adjust the pulleys accordingly to a little above your head.

What are YOUR favorite upper back workouts?


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