Log in to BOXROX Pro

9 Best Upper Back Exercises for an Enviable Upper Body

Tips from Mike Thurston.

Try these best upper back exercises from online coach, fitness entrepreneur and YouTuber Mike Thurston.

When you work on your back, you’ll be recruiting the following muscles:

  • Upper traps
  • Middle traps
  • Lower traps
  • Infraspinatus
  • Supraspinatus
  • Deltoid
  • Rhomboideus minor
  • Rhomboideus major
  • Tres minor
  • Tres major
  • Latissimus dorsi

Whenever you train your upper back, elbow positioning has a big impact in which muscles you recruit, says Thurston.

On How to Build a V Shaped BackSource: Nigel Msipa / Unsplash

The following are some of the exercises Thurston uses to build his upper back.

Best Upper Back Exercises from Mike Thurston

Platform Deadlift

Just like a normal Deadlift, the Platform Deadlift recruits similar muscles but skips over the bottom of the position.

This makes deadlifts more upper body focused, as it reduces the range of motion and maximises the load placed on the erectors and traps.

Read more: Rack Pulls Guide – Muscles Worked, Benefits, Technique and Variations

Pronated Plate Loaded Row

Keep the elbows relatively high to recruit more muscles in your upper back instead of the middle back. Drive the elbows back and give them a good squeeze at the top of the movement.

Wide Grip T-Bar Row

Only load up this exercise with small plates so you can get maximum range of motion.

Read more: T Bar Row – Muscles Worked, Benefits, Technique and Variations

Pronated Bent Over Barbell Row

The bent-over row is an excellent back or upper body exercise. You should feel a pulling sensation across your back, this indicates that the lats are engaged.

The elbows play a significant role in the row as well as other pushing and pulling lifts, therefore, you will need to find the best position for them. A good place to start for most upper back recruitment is about 45 degrees from the body.

Read more: Master the Bent-Over Row For a Stronger Well-Rounded Back

Bent Over Single Arm Landmine Row

Standing at a 90 degree angle from the weight, drive the barbell high, keep your elbows flared, and make a short contraction at the top of the exercise.

Read more: Landmine Row – Powerful Benefits, Technique Tips and Muscles Worked

Seated Wide Grip Cable Row

Minimise the amount of torso movement during this exercise to keep engagement of the lower back to a minimum.

Keep the elbows reasonable flared and squeeze at the top of the movement.

Read more: How to Build A Muscular Back with the Cable Row – Technique and Mistakes to Avoid

Face Pull

When you do these, think about driving the rope up towards the centre of your forehead, flaring your hands either side of your head.

Read more: Face Pulls – Muscles Worked, Benefits, Technique and Variations

Bodyweight Row

In this exercise, you’ll be moving your body around a fixed object unlike all others. Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, use a pronated grip, and try to keep your elbows quite high.

Elevate your feet on a bench to increase the range of motion and the difficulty and aim to touch the bar with your sternum.

Barbell Shrug

This is a trap dominant exercise and a great finisher. Aim for maximum range of motion and squeeze the traps at the top of the movement.

Read more: How to Build Huge, Strong Traps with the Barbell Shrug (Benefits, Technique and Muscles Worked)

Watch Mike Thurston performing these best upper back exercises

Read more: Best Upper Body Exercises for Muscle Mass

Image Sources

Related news