There is a large variety of good upper back exercises.
You're only going to get the best back exercises here on this page, though.
I never bother with very many isolation exercises because the majority of the population will never need isolation exercises.
Isolation exercises are great for elite level bodybuilders who need to improve a weakness without building another muscle group.
If you're not an elite level bodybuilder, stick to the big compound exercises shown on this page.
You'll only need isolation exercises further down the road if you want to improve a weakness in muscle size. Most likely that will be several years. You first want to focus on getting really strong on the best compound weight lifting exercises.
Once you are really strong on those exercises, you'll see where your true muscle weaknesses are in your upper back.
Then you can add some isolation exercises to work on any of your weaknesses.
Here Are The Best Upper Back Exercises for Strength and Power:
In no particular order…
The links above are quick links to the exercises further down this page.
The 3 weight lifting exercises above and all of their variations will build an amazing upper back.
Learn more about each of the 3 exercises by watching all of the videos below and paying attention to all the details of each movement.
Rows are the best overall back exercise because they build both back thickness and back width. The other back exercises do not build both aspects of the back as completely as the row.
There are several different versions of the row. You have so many options to choose from, and you should switch between different versions of the row throughout the year.
Focus on getting as strong as possible on one exercise and only switch when you stall out on strength gains with that exercise.
Getting stronger on different versions of the row will make you stronger when you go back to a previous rowing exercise. You won't lose any strength at all when switching between rowing variations.
How many different types of rows are there?
- Bent Over Rows
- Pendlay Rows
- Cable Rows
- T Bar Rows
- Machine Rows
I recommend that you always choose free weights over machines for building muscle and strength.
You can also switch between barbells and dumbbells for completely different rowing exercises. For example, the 1 arm dumbbell row is completely different from the barbell row.
You can also use different handles, different bars, and different machines to give you a completely different feel.
Let's look at some videos of variations of the row…
Chin Ups and Pull Ups are some of the best upper back exercises you will ever do for building width in the upper back. Chin ups and pull ups can be tough for beginners, but try jumping up to the bar and slowly lowering yourself. After a few months, you'll be performing several reps on your own.
There are also many variaitons of pull ups and chin ups. Palms facing towards you, palms facing away from you, parallel grip, inverted chin ups, rack chin ups, clap chin ups, 1-arm chins, and more. I do not recommend behind the back pull ups – there's just no reason to do them.
Last but definitely not least are deadlifts and all variations. Deadlifts build thickness in the entire back region including the trapezius muscle that surrounds your neck and goes down your middle back.
Deadlifts are right up there with Squats as the King of all exercises! I always recommend you have at least one variation of the deadlift in your weight lifting program – this includes deadlift variations for your hamstrings.
Let's look at some deadlift videos and a few variations…
Several different deadlift variations can be performed. You can use a barbell, dumbbells, a trap bar, different grips, a power rack set at different heights, and more.
Deadlifts are very demanding, but definitely fun.
Deadlifts are another one of those weight lifting exercises that requires you practice and learn proper form. If you want to learn how to perform all of these upper back exercises properly, continue reading this website and get a copy of the WLC System.