Your upper back strength correlates directly to your strength in the squat, bench, and deadlift. A strong, muscular upper back is the supportive framework required to excel in the main lifts.

So that means you have to perform heavy rows and shrugs to develop your upper back, right? Well, that's actually a common misconception.

You don't need weights to develop a strong powerful upper back. Some of the best exercises and training protocols require nothing but your own bodyweight or a resistance band.

There's no question that rows, deadlifts, and pulldowns are tried and true, but they're not the only way to approach your upper-back training. The issue with heavy rows and pulldowns aren't with the exercises themselves, it's how they're being performed. The problem? Poor positioning due to heavy loading.

Lifting heavy is good. But when lifting weights beyond your capacity puts you in weak, shitty, vulnerable positions, you're not able to effectively engage all of the small, often neglected muscles of the upper back. These muscles include the...

  • Rear delt
  • Teres major/minor
  • Upper trap
  • Rhomboid minor/major
  • Infraspinatus

This is why the following exercises are so effective. No matter how strong you are or how long you've been lifting, you can't cheat your way through them with brute strength or momentum. You'll be able to hone in on all of the small, intricate muscles of the upper back, which will ultimately make you stronger and pack on serious size.

Do these exercises (or some form of upper back training) at least 3-4 times per week. Since heavy weight isn't required, your nervous system won't be taxed and your muscles will recover faster between sessions. Do more volume throughout the week if you want to gain noticeable results.

High Row and Face Pull

External Rotation

Banded Cuban Press

Wide-Stance Band Shrug

Dynamic Handcuffs

Hands-Behind-Head Handcuffs

Bodyweight Batwings

More Benefits

  • Your posture and breathing will benefit immensely. Both have a direct impact on your health and performance.
  • You can't hide big backs and big shoulders. No shirt on the planet is going to be able to hide your gains.
  • You need to train your back to negate all the sitting you're doing.

Related:  5 More Exercises for Upper Back Strength

Related:  A New Exercise for Upper Back and Traps