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Perform rowing-style exercises to work your upper back.
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It can be easy to overlook the upper back during a workout, especially if your focus tends toward building your mirror muscles, such as your chest, biceps and abs. A strong upper back is critical, however, not only in the development of a balanced physique, but also to avoid strength imbalances between muscle groups and prevent injuries such as muscle strains.
Barbell Bent Over Row1.
Place a barbell on the safety pins in a power rack, set at knee height.2.
Hold the bar with an overhand grip and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift it out of the pins and take a step backwards.3.
Bend forward, taking your chest toward the floor while maintaining a natural arch in your lower back. In the bottom position your torso should be around 45 degrees to the floor.
Pull the bar up until it touches your upper abdomen.5.
Pause momentarily, then lower the bar again until your arms are straight. The rest of your body should stay completely still to avoid allowing momentum to lift the weight.
Place your right knee and right hand on a weight bench.2.
Plant your left foot on the floor and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. The dumbbell should line up with your left knee.3.
Lift the dumbbell until it makes contact with your body between the top of your hips and the bottom of your ribs. Keep your elbow high and brace your core muscles.4.
Lower the weight back to the starting position for a count of two and finish the rep with your hand back in line with your knee. Don't go below this or let your torso bend to the side -- keep the tension on your upper back muscles.5.
Perform all the repetitions with your left arm, then switch to the right.
Attach a rope handle to a cable station and set the attachment so it's at head height.2.
Grab one end of the rope in either hand and take two to three steps back so there's tension on the rope when you hold your arms out straight.3.
Push your chest out, hold your abs tight and initiate the movement by pulling your elbows back and squeezing your shoulder blades together.4.
Pull the rope until your hands come just to either side of your ears. Pause for two seconds while keeping tension on your upper back muscles.5.
Extend your arms back out slowly, ensuring that your whole body remains still apart from your arms.
- Weight Bench
- Cable Machine
- Perform each exercise for three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Once you can do four sets of 12, increase the weight, drop back down to three sets of eight and start working your way back up again.
- Aim for a two-to-one ratio of back exercises to pushing exercises such as bench presses and pushups, advises strength coach Eric Cressey. This boosts your upper back strength and helps you avoid injury. For every set of chest presses you do, perform two sets of barbell or dumbbell rows or face pulls.
- Consult your doctor before beginning a training program and ask a qualified trainer to give you a form check before you attempt any exercises.