What exercises will strengthen my upper back?


Holding a weight in your right hand, put your left foot forward. Bend both knees and rest your left hand on your thigh (or a sturdy chair if you need additional support). While keeping a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone, use your back muscles to lift and lower your right elbow. Barely rub your right side when lifting, and resist rocking from side to side. Work up to 50 reps; reverse sides and repeat.

A great strengthening exercise that specifically targets the upper back is called prone 6.  You can perform this exercise by lying prone or on your stomach in six (6) different positions.  The first position is like what is described above, arms out at your side forming a "T" with your palms facing downwards, hold this position for six (6) seconds.  The second position is the "T" but with your thumbs facing upwards.  The third position is forming a "Y" with your arms, palms facing downwards.  The fourth position is a "Y" with your thumbs facing upwards.  The fifth position is with your shoulder and elbows at 90 degrees or basically making a field goal.  The sixth and final position is with your arms next to your side attempting to touch your elbows together with your palms facing the table.  You should hold each position for six (6 seconds) completing each position three times.  You can increase the difficulty by first increasing the time for each hold, then progressing to adding cuff weights or performing the exercise on a physioball. The first time you complete this exercise you should have someone watch you because a common technique error is by using your upper trapezius (or shrugging) to stabilize your arms.
A great exercise to strengthen the upper-back muscles and shoulders is the prone ball horizontal abduction: 2-arm. Use the technique described below to perform this exercise. Lie on your stomach on a stability ball with your legs extended and toes on the ground, belly button drawn-in and glutes squeezed. To start, hold a light dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended in front of your body.  Next, raise both of your arms with your thumbs pointed up so that from above your arms and body form a “T” position. Be careful not to shrug your shoulders or arch your back. Hold the top position for a second or two before returning your arms to the floor. Repeat this pattern for the desired number of repetitions. Alternatively, this exercise may be performed on a bench or the floor if a stability ball is unavailable.

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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.