What exercise will help to strengthen my mid-back?

A great exercise to strengthen the muscles of the mid-back is the standing dumbbell cobra: 2-arm.  In addition to working the mid-back muscles, this exercise also strengthens the triceps and lats.  Perform this exercise by following the technique described below. Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead, draw-in your navel, and tuck your chin.  Next, bend at your waist until your chest is at a 45-degree angle to the ground, and extend both of your arms, letting them hang in front of your body with a dumbbell in each hand.  Keeping your elbows straight, bring your arms to the sides of your body in a circular pattern by pinching your shoulder blades together and down toward your thighs.  Hold this position and then return to the start, repeating for the desired number of repetitions.

In addition to the "Standing Dumbbell Cobra" another great exercise to strengthen the middle back muscles is the "Stick-Up". The Stick-up doesn't require equipment and will also help stretch out the front part of your shoulders and your chest, which are two key areas that become very tight in most of us because of the activities of our daily living. This tightness in the front part of the body can contributes to the weakness in the middle back muscles. So if you include the stick-up you can kill 2 birds with one stone. Strengthen as you lengthen or stretch. 

Perform the exercise by following the steps below or watch the video by clicking or copying and pasting this link into your browser -


  • Stand with your back against a wall. Your feet should be about 6-12 inches away from the wall and your butt, upper back, and head should all be in contact with the wall at all times in the exercise.
  • Gradually slide your hands up overhead. Try to keep your shoulders, elbows, and wrists in contact with the wall at all times.
  • Slide your arms down the wall and tuck your elbows into your sides. This should bring your shoulder blades down and together. You should feel the muscles between your shoulder blades tighten as well as your shoulder muscles.
  • Try to improve how far up you can slide your arms over your head while keeping your wrists and elbows in contact with the wall each week.
  • The goal is to improve your posture, strengthen the muscles in your upper middle back and increase the range of movement in your shoulder joints.
  • Again, try to keep everything in contact with the wall but do not force it and cause any pain throughout the exercise.
  • From the bottom position, try to slowly slide your arms up until they are straight and in a "stick-up" position.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.