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6 Best Back Workouts for Women (Expert Tips for Toned Back)

Christiana Mikesch
Published by Christiana Mikesch | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 1, 2023

Many of my female fitness clients find the back a challenging part of the body to target, so it often ends up overlooked.

However, working your back muscles can increase upper body strength, correct postural issues, and reduce the risk of injury.

I got my colleagues at Total Shape to help me compile a list of the best back exercises for women to improve their strength and tone in this important area.

Read on for details on the best back exercises to implement into your workout routine.

Quick Summary

  • An effective back workout for women does not require special gym equipment like an assisted pull-up machine, chin dip station, or pull-up bar.
  • Back workouts for women are often overlooked but are essential for muscle strength, core support, posture correction, and reducing injury risk.
  • The major back muscles include the deltoids, trapezoids, and latissimus dorsi.

Best Back Exercises for Women

A woman stretching her bac

Here are some of the best exercises I incorporate into my female clients’ back workouts.

1. Resistance Band Pull-Apart

Begin by standing up straight with feet hip-width apart.

  • Holding both ends of a resistance band at shoulder width.
  • Keep your arms straight and pull the resistance band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Maintain proper posture, and do not let your arms pass your sides.
  • Keep tension on the band throughout the entire motion and slowly return to the start.

Three sets of 10-15 reps is a great way to work the upper back and shoulder muscles.

2. Upright Row

To begin, stand with your body straight, feet positioned just wider than your shoulders, with knees slightly bent.

  • With an overhand grip, hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Keep hands at your sides, with palms facing your body.
  • With a slight bend in the elbows, start pulling the weights toward shoulder level, keeping your elbows pointing outward.
  • Keep pulling until you reach chin level.
  • Hold this position briefly before lowering the weights to the starting position while inhaling.
  • Make sure not to lock your elbows during the downward movement.

Depending on your fitness level, perform 8-12 reps with proper form to build strength in your shoulders, traps, and upper-back muscles.

3. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Single arm dumbbell row

Slightly bend forward at the waist with your right leg and hand on a bench.

  • Hold a dumbbell with your arm slightly bent at your side in the opposite hand.
  • Slowly pull the dumbbell in an upward motion up from the ground until it reaches chest level.
  • Keep your core engaged, protecting your spine during the lifting movement.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • Switch to the left leg and arm for support, and hold the dumbbell in your right hand.
  • Perform 8-10 reps on this side.

4. Single-Arm Rear Delt Raise

Start with a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand at waist level.

  • Keep knees bent just enough so they aren’t locked.
  • While keeping your core tight and shoulders back, hinge forward at the waist to form a 45-degree angle with your torso.
  • From this position, slowly lift the weight toward shoulder height while externally rotating your shoulder.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you come up.
  • Keep your elbow slightly bent throughout the motion.
  • Reverse the motion and return to the start.
  • Repeat on the other side.

5. Superman

Performing superman position on yoga mat

To do a proper superman exercise, start by lying on your stomach.

  • Your forehead should rest lightly on the floor.
  • Keep your arms extended in front of you.
  • Your legs should be in a straight line behind you.
  • With palms facing down, keep your core tight and your back flat, and simultaneously lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor until you feel your lower back muscles engaging.
  • When you reach the top of the movement, hold the position for a few seconds before lowering back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

This exercise effectively works your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and ab muscles.

“Our back supports us, allowing us to stand, bend over, and basically perform all necessary human action and we shouldn’t be taking the ability to do those types of basic movements for granted.”

- Eric Botsford, Certified Personal Trainer

6. Plank Up Down

Begin in a high-plank position with your palms on the floor, arms straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Lower the right elbow to the floor and then the other.
  • Now with both elbows bent, place the palm of your right hand on the floor and straighten the right arm.
  • Do the same to the left side.
  • This movement returns you to the high plank position and completes one rep.

Completing 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps while keeping a tight core and glutes will work your shoulders, glutes, arms, and core.

Why Women Need to Exercise Their Backs

Flexing back muscles after back workout

Exercising the back muscles helps maintain a good posture by improving core strength.

Also, a back workout targets improving muscular tension, joint pain, balance, and stability [1].

An estimated 30% of people in the United States suffer from chronic lower back pain, so regular back exercise is a proactive way to improve overall health and wellness in the long term and reduce the risk of strain or injury [2].


How Often Should Women Train Their Back?

Women should train their backs up to three non-consecutive days per week. Like any other workout, the muscles need time to rest and recover before being worked on again.

How Do Women Get Rid of Belly and Back Fat?

Women can get rid of belly and back fat by eating healthy and implementing a consistent fitness routine that includes aerobic exercise and strength training that targets the abdominal and back muscles.

Strengthen Your Back Muscles

By incorporating these back exercises into your weekly workout routine, you can sculpt your back muscles, reduce lower back pain, and improve posture and core strength.

Furthermore, pre-workout supplements can give you energy and aid muscle recovery.

Many of my female clients use pre-workout supplements for women regularly to fuel up before exercise to avoid a disjointed, lagging session, ensuring their workout yields maximum results.

We’ve tested countless pre-workouts and compiled this list of the best performers. Click the link to see the best one designed for the needs of women, helping them hit their goals faster.


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