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Best Upper Back Workout Routines

Updated on December 9, 2014

Training The Upper Back Muscles

If you put the muscles of the upper back together they make up the largest muscle group of the body. This makes them an extremely important group of muscles to train intensely if you're into weight training. Unfortunately, the upper back muscles usually don't get as much love as other upper body muscles from most weight trainers. They'll train them, but not as much as they train their chests and arms. However, building the upper back muscles will not only make your entire upper body bigger, it will also improve your posture - especially if you have a muscular chest. For optimal results, the best upper back workout routines must include exercises to increase the width and thickness of those muscles.

Building Upper Back Width

Building width should be one of your priorities when following the best upper back workout routines. A wide upper back will make your whole upper body look bigger and your midsection appear smaller. This will give you the v-shaped look that most weight trainers and bodybuilders are striving for.

When you want to build width with the best upper back workout routines you need to perform weight training exercises that have you pulling against overhead resistance. Doing these exercises will increase the width of the latissmus dorsi muscles on the outsides of the upper back. This is best done with pull-up and pulldown exercises.

The best exercise for increasing upper back width is the pull-up. To do them you grip an overhead bar and pull your body up until your upper chest touches the bar. It's a superior exercise to cable pulldowns because you are moving your body through space rather than pulling weight to you. The only problem is that if you may weigh too much to get a decent number of pull-up reps per set. If you have this problem you can have a spotter assist you to get more reps or use an assisted pull-up machine that can be found in most gyms. You can use various grips when you do pull-ups to hit the lats from different angles. The most popular forms of pull-ups to perform as part of the best upper back workout routines are close-grip underhanded or wide-grip overhanded.

Cable pulldowns are a great alternative to pull-ups. To do them you sit down and pull a bar from above you to your upper chest/clavicle area. You can use all of the various grips that you can do with pull-ups as well. The top upper back workout routines should include them when you can't do very many pull-up reps.

You may see some lifters who do pull-ups or pulldowns to the back of their necks while performing upper back workouts. However, doing these exercises like this will put the shoulder muscles in an awkward position and could lead to injury. You're much better off doing pull-ups and cable pulldowns to in front of your neck.

Building Upper Back Thickness

To increase the overall thickness of your upper body you need to build upper back thickness. Building the muscles in the middle of the upper back will lead to more thickness. You can also increase the thickness of your lats with certain exercises as part of the best upper back workout routines.

The best exercises to thicken your upper back muscles are rows. They can be done many different ways to hit your muscles in different ways. The best forms of the row are bent over rows, dumbbell rows, and cable rows.

One of the best exercises to perform as part of an upper back workout routine is the bent over row. To do them you bend your upper body forward a the hips until it's at around a 45 degree angle to the floor. You then grip a barbell about shoulder width apart and pull it from a straight armed position to your abdominal area. When you do this exercise you need to avoid bending your lower back and concentrate on arching it instead.

Dumbbell rows are another great exercise to perform as part of the best upper back workout routines. To do them you put the knee and hand of one side of your body on a bench and use your other arm to row a dumbbell to your side. Do a set for one side of your body then switch to the other.

Cable rows are an excellent exercise for thickness to do later as part of your upper back workouts. When you do them you can use various grip ranges to hit the muscles differently. This is a great exercise to do drop sets on to finsh off the best upper back workout routines.

Sample Upper Back Workout Routine

For the best upper back workout routines you should make changes every now and then. This won't allow you muscles to get too used to always doing the same thing. You can switch the exercises you do, the order you do them in, and the amount of repetitions you do per set. This sample upper back routine includes a light weight - high rep workout, a medium weight - medium rep workout, and a heavy weight - low rep workout.

Light upper back workout (15-20 reps per set)

2 sets of close grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

2 sets of barbell or dumbbell rows

1-2 sets of wide grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

1-2 sets of cable rows

1-2 drop sets of cable row or pulldown exercise

Medium upper back workout (10-15 reps per set)

2-3 sets of close grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

2-3 sets of barbell or dumbbell rows

2-3 sets of wide grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

1-2 sets of cable rows

1-2 drop sets of cable exercise

Heavy upper back workout (5-10 reps per set)

3-4 sets of close grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

3-4 sets of barbell or dumbbell rows

2-3 sets of wide grip pull-ups or cable pulldowns

2-3 sets of cable rows

1-2 drop sets of cable exercise

Learn How To Do Pull-ups Here


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