2 Upper Back Exercises For Strengthening With Resistance Bands

Are you looking for upper back exercises?

This Physiotherapist exercise video shows you 2 upper back exercises that help you strengthen your upper back, tone your upper arms and improve your posture.

Suitability: General

Video duration: 4 mins 15 secs

Scroll down for exercise guidelines and tips for avoiding injury with these upper back exercises.

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Why Use Resistance Bands For Upper Back Exercises?

Resistance bands and tubes can provide women with an effective way of upper back strengthening.

Resistance bands are:

  • Ideal for different strength levels (bands and tubes are colour coded according to the resistance provided)
  • Well suited to pelvic floor safe exercises
  • Portable and light weight (great to use when travelling)
  • Well suited to a range of whole body strength exercises
  • Easy to grip with handles
  • Great for training upright posture

Guide To Upper Back Exercises

The 2 exercises demonstrated in this video show you how to strengthen your upper back. The added bonus is that these exercises also strengthen and tone the upper arms and shoulders.

Keep your exercises safe by ceasing any exercise that causes you discomfort immediately; your strength exercises should feel comfortable during and after exercise.

Upper Back Exercise 1: Low Row

Low Row is an ideal exercise to start out with, especially if you’re prone to neck and/or shoulder discomfort.

Start out using light resistance and make sure your technique is correct from the outset before progressing your resistance.

Set Up

  • Fix the middle of the band around a fixed door handle (door closed)
  • Hold the ends of the band or handle in each hand
  • Rotate your wrists so your palms face your sides
  • Move away from the door so the bands have some tension when your arms are outstretched
  • Soften your knees
  • Lift your chest forwards
  • Relax your shoulders back and down

Action for Low Row

  • Pull back on both of the handles slowly using a smooth action
  • Breathe our as you pull back on the bands
  • Your elbows should stay close to the sides of your trunk
  • Raise your chest forwards as you extend the bands
  • Your shoulder blades should move inwards towards your spine and slightly downwards as you pull back on the bands
  • Your shoulder blades move apart around your chest wall as you release the bands

Upper Back Exercise 2: Wide Row

Wide Row is a progression from exercise 1 – make sure you can perform exercise 1 comfortably before progressing to this more advanced exercise.

Wide Row exercises strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades and the back of your shoulders and upper arms.

Set Up

  • Set up as for Exercise 1
  • Raise your elbows away from your sides (no higher than your shoulders)


  • Use the same action already described for Low Row however during Wide Row the elbows are raised away from the sides of the body*
  • Your shoulder blades should squeeze together as you draw slowly back on the bands
  • Your shoulder blades should move apart as you slowly release the bands

*The higher you raise your elbows the greater the potential for shoulder and neck strain; avoid raising your elbows too high from your sides if prone to neck and/or shoulder discomfort

How Many Upper Back Exercises?

  • Start out with the number of exercises that feel comfortable using the correct action
  • Aim to perform 8-12 exercises in a row (1 set)
  • Build up to 3 sets and take a rest break between each set
  • Perform your upper back exercises on 2 or 3 alternate days of the week

Tips for Avoiding Injury

  • Avoid tensing your neck and upper shoulders with these upper back exercises; keep your neck long and raise your chest forwards especially as you pull backwards on the handles
  • Keep your knees soft throughout this exercise to protect your lower back from strain
  • Sit on an exercise ball or chair to provide additional support for your pelvic floor
  • Breathe out with the effort of pulling back the bands
  • Choose the most appropriate resistance band that allows you to keep resistance manageable and avoid strain
  • Progress the resistance of the tube that you use as your strength improves

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