Best back exercises for women: A common theme among women in the gym is that they devote a lot of time to leg and abs workouts. Focusing on these areas is considered by many to achieve the best results. Therefore, back-training may be overlooked – but it shouldn’t.
Our back makes up a large part of our body. So whether you’re looking to rock an open-back dress or beach next summer, a strong back is a great way to do it. And hey, being able to do a pull-up or 5 isn’t all that unimpressive. Understand!
In this article, I’ll cover some of the best back exercises for women and why and how you should do them. Don’t worry about where you are on your fitness journey, we’ve got you covered, from beginner back exercises to the more advanced.
Why You Should Never Skip Back the Day
The muscles in your back fuel most of your daily movements. They are also responsible for supporting your spine. Your back plays an integral role in your posture.
Having a set of good back exercises spread throughout your training week, or even an intense back day each week will ensure you build a strong and active back that can support a healthy posture.
Weak muscles along the back can cause a multitude of painful issues. For example, weak muscles in the upper back can lead to rounded shoulders and a frozen thoracic spine, which puts additional strain on your lower back. A weak lower back can cause pain when lifting heavy objects or sitting for too long.
Therefore, keeping your back strong and mobile is a great way to reduce pain.
And of course, there is the aesthetic benefit of not skipping the day. There’s nothing like a toned and sculpted back to compliment your physique. Performing a variety of back exercises for your upper, middle, and lower back creates a beautiful and balanced aesthetic result.
When it comes to aesthetics, it’s important to remember that training is only one part of it – a good diet and low body fat level contribute the other major to that toned and defined look.
Without further ado, let’s get to the best back exercises for women!
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12 Best Back Exercises for Women
Here are the 12 best back exercises for women to strengthen and shape your back. These exercises target different muscles in your back and range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Be sure to check out the video clips included with each exercise for a visual guide on how to perform it correctly.
This lot of exercises provides a great starting point for women who are just starting out in their fitness journeys. They can be done safely with limited baseline strength and will generate a good foundation for more advanced exercises to come.
This exercise requires only your body weight and is a safe starting point for women who want to start strengthening their backs. Superman works your entire back, especially your lower back.
It is an excellent beginner exercise as it is effective in helping you develop good shooting mechanics and the static strength and control needed for more advanced movements. There are several variations of this exercise, but in this article, we will look at the standard version.
To do this exercise correctly, start by lying face down with your arms extended above your head. From here, simultaneously lift your legs, arms, head, and chest as high off the ground as possible. Hold this position for one second before returning to the starting position.
Be careful not to over-reach along the lower back. Your range of motion should increase as your strength and mobility improve.
You can do this exercise in sets of 3 for 10 to 12 repetitions.
2. Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
The Wide Grip Lat Down is a great exercise for building upper body strength. It is a weighted exercise but offers the stability and support of a machine and is therefore suitable for beginners.
This exercise mostly works your lats but also works many other minor muscles through your back and arms. I find this exercise very effective, combined with exercises that target your rhomboids (inner, upper back).
To do the Wide Grip Pull Down, adjust the machine so that your thighs fit comfortably under the supports. Hold the bar with a pronate grip, shoulder-width apart.
Exhale as you pull the bar just above your chest. Your elbows should be close to your sides and your shoulder blades should be tightened together. Hold for a second or two, then return to the starting position in a controlled, slow motion.
This exercise is best done at higher repetitions of 12 to 15 in 3 or 4 sets with a weight appropriate to maintain good form throughout.
3. Single Arm Dumbbell Row
This exercise never goes astray in my back workouts! I love its one-sided aspect, meaning it allows you to develop equal strength and coordination on both the left and right sides of your back.
The Single-Arm Dumbbell Row effectively targets your back, lats, traps, and rhomboids, but also your biceps. Depending on what your training goals are, this exercise can be done with heavyweight and fewer reps, or with lighter weights and more reps. I like to do this exercise in sets of 4 from 8 to 10 repetitions.
This exercise has the advantage of stabilizing your body on a bench so you can pull more weights. Start by kneeling on a one-legged bench and support your upper body with the corresponding arm. Your back should be straight, a dumbbell should be hanging on an outstretched arm.
Pull your scapula back, then pull the weight up to your ribs, focusing on lifting with your back and posterior deltoid instead of your arm. Hold for a second while your muscles are fully contracted, and then return to the starting position.
Form comes first, so be sure to choose a weight you can manage to get the most out of this exercise.
If you’ve been working out for a while and have enough core strength to adequately protect your spine from injury under load, these intermediate exercises would be great for you to try out!
This exercise combines your body weight and the use of dumbbells. It requires good basic core strength to be able to perform safely and is not suitable for beginners.
Hitting your back from all angles while lifting one side and fixing the other, the Renegade Row is perfect for getting that sculpted back. It also works many other muscles and burns an impressive number of calories – a great option for women training to lose weight.
This exercise is effective, but only if done correctly. When you’re done with poor form, you open yourself up to injury to the lower back. Renegade Row doesn’t need to be done with heavyweights to be effective. In fact, if you do it right, you should own this exercise no matter what weight you use!
Get into a push-up position with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet shoulder-width apart. Your body should be in a straight line with a neutral spine. Without rotating between the hips, pull a dumbbell toward your chest/ribs, alternating from left to right arm. Try again with 20 turns.
The technique is very important in this exercise so make sure you watch this before trying it!
5.Wide Grip Bent Over Barbell Row
This exercise is a slight variation from the standard Bent Over Row. I prefer this wide-grip version to the standard version because it focuses more on the traps, rear deltoids, and rhomboids in addition to the lats.
This is one of my personal back exercises. A wider grip allows you to reduce the amount of work you do through your biceps and encourages you to use your back as the main pulling force. It’s also just as challenging, as it doesn’t use the stability of a workbench or machine.
I like to do 10 to 12 repetitions of this exercise in 3 or 4 sets.
To do the Wide Grip Bent Over Row, load an Olympic bar of the appropriate weight. Assuming a hip-width stance, grasp the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Lean forward about 45 degrees at the hips with a gentle bend in the knees. The barbell should be on outstretched arms, hanging in a straight line from your shoulders. Keeping your back neutral and the muscles under your shoulder blades tense, pull the weight toward your ribs and hold for a second or two. Then return to the starting position without rounding your upper back.
The T-Bar Row is a great exercise for hitting lats, traps, and upright spines. This version of Row requires a narrow grip hand positioning with your palms facing each other.
This exercise often cites my strength regimen as one of my main back exercises. It’s good heavy lifting done in a few reps. Try the T-Bar Row for 6 to 8 reps as heavy as you can manage with good form.
Very effective in improving strength and tone, T-Bar Row should not be missed by women who want to get stronger as well as shape their back.
To do this exercise, place an Olympic bar in a corner or on a mine attachment. Hang a narrow handle under the collar of the upper end of the bar and support the bar with a hip-width foot stance.
Keeping a neutral spine, push your hips back to create tension in your glutes and hamstrings. From here, pull the bar toward your chest and count for two seconds while your mid-back and lats are fully contracted.
To get the most out of this lift, make sure your breathing is correct – exhale during the exertion phase (the pulling element of the movement).
If you’re a seasoned gym-goer and have established a good foundation of full-body strength and conditioning, these exercises are safe for you to do! In my opinion, this lot is the cream of the crop when it comes to the best back exercises for women.
Celebrity chin up! This exercise has many other benefits besides being a pure feat to do which makes it extra cool. It’s a good strength test and shouldn’t be missing from your back routine.
Unlike the Pull Up, the Chin Up assumes a shoulder-width supine grip (underhand grip) and targets your lower lats and biceps. Hang on outstretched arms, to start, go through your lats and pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar.
Hold in the top position for one second and then lower yourself for more than 3 seconds before moving on to your next rep.
It is unquestionably an effective exercise, so it would be rare for you to step into a gym without seeing someone!
During your session, 12 to 15 push-ups will be a good starting point until you can do straight sets of 10 reps.
The Rack Pull is an excellent exercise to increase your pulling power and overall lower back strength. A variation of Deadlift, the Rack Pull is essentially the top stage of a Deadlift, allowing you to need less torque generation through your legs and more focus on your upper body.
This exercise is effective at building strength when done over fewer repetitions and more sets. Try 5 sets of 5 reps as heavy as you can.
Start with an Olympic bar supported on a rack at or just above knee level. Grasp the bar overhead with your arms at shoulder level. Push your hips back and keep your shoulders engaged (scapular retracted) throughout the lift.
Lift the weight by standing up straight. Then, push your hips back and lower the weight in front of your legs.
Since this is a heavier weight exercise, make sure you use the technique correctly to avoid injury! Here’s how to do it.
9.Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Fly
Although the Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Fly is often performed among beginners, it actually requires a lot of mobility and strength to be able to perform effectively.
To get the most out of this exercise, you need enough core strength to stabilize your spine and enough range of motion to hit your back muscles properly. This exercise targets your upper back and posterior deltoids.
I highly recommend it to women who want to create a toned upper back that looks great in workout shirts!
Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand, bending your hips forward so your chest is almost parallel to the floor. Your hands should be together with your palms facing each other. Raise the dumbbells wide with a slight bend in the elbows, pressing your shoulder blades together. Hold for a second and return to the starting position.
The eccentric phase of this move is just as important, so don’t rush this exercise. Aim to be slow and steady.
This exercise works well on more reps. Try 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps. I also like to do this exercise as a burnout exercise at the end of a workout, in which case you can go until you fail.
10. Scapular Pushups
Even if you can’t do a full push-up, the scapular push-up requires only a small range of motion and is a great option for beginners and experienced athletes alike. This move is especially helpful at the beginning of your upper body workout to help warm up and fire up those back muscles.
How to do it: Start in a high plank position with your abs and booty engaged. Lower your knees to the floor if necessary. Keep your arms straight with your hands directly under your shoulders. Imagine a pencil between them as you stretch your arms, pinching your shoulder blades together. Try to pull back and lengthen your shoulder blades, slightly lowering your body by about 1 or 2 inches. Hold each rep for about five seconds, then release and return to your high plank position.
11. 90 Degree Lateral Raise
Build sculpted and strong shoulders and back muscles with this simple but effective lateral raise variation.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-distance apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows to create a 90-degree angle and palms are facing towards the body. Keeping the 90-degree angle, raise your arms up so your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Be sure to keep your core engaged, lats activated, and shoulders down and relaxed. Lower down to starting position and repeat.
This shoulder press variation hits different angles of the upper back and shoulders for some serious activation and toning. Since the angle can take some time to get used to, start with lighter weights and then progress as you get more comfortable with the movement.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-distance apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your core tight as you lift the dumbbells to your shoulders with your elbows pointed out to the side. Push the weight up and out diagonally so that your arms make the shape of a “Y.” Lower the dumbbells back down to your shoulders to complete one rep.
All these back exercises for women are effective when done correctly. Remember that a set of back exercises is necessary to work all the different muscles in your back – so diversify it. If you’re a beginner, make sure you’ve mastered the first few exercises before moving on to the others.
Ladies, these 12 best back exercises for women will help you reach your goal of a sexy back, complete with strength gains as a bonus!
For the more advanced, all the best back exercises for women included are helpful to do while giving your back a well-rounded workout.
The Olympic Bar was a common feature of these exercises. If you need a workout of your own to do these exercises at home, check out our buying guide.
As always, we’d love to hear your feedback. Let us know what your best back exercises for women are and why in the comments section below!
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