If you are interested in maintaining proper posture, improving your body’s silhouette, or balancing the strength of complimentary or opposing muscle groups in your body, then working on your upper and middle back muscles is a must. Strengthening the muscles of the axial skeleton (the head and trunk) plays a major role in proper function as well as outward appearance. Three basic exercises will help to keep your upper and middle back in good shape.
Focusing on the upper back, shoulder shrugs will add strength there. To begin, stand holding a dumbbell in each hand, letting your arms hang by your sides with your palms facing each other.
For one repetition, raise your shoulders straight up towards your ears, keeping your arms hanging down, and then lower your shoulders back down. This works the trapezius muscles as well. It is great for adding proper support for spinal alignment.
Bent over rows:
These target the middle of the back. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, start from a standing position. Keeping a bend in the knees hinge forward at the waist bringing your back closer to parallel with the floor (consult a fitness professional for proper alignment). Allow your hands to hang beneath your shoulders and turn your palms towards the back. Moving only at the shoulders and elbows, pull the weights up towards your chest, and then lower them.
The overhand grip pull-up will definitely challenge your middle back muscles. Hang from a chin-up bar with your palms facing forward. Pull yourself up until your chin rises above the bar and slowly lower yourself down for one repetition. In comparison to using an underhand grip, as in the chin-up, the overhand grip will transfer some of the work away from the biceps in your arms and make your back muscles work that much more. Substitute overhand grip lat pull-downs on a machine if you cannot perform this exercise with proper form.
Especially in men, the muscle groups in the upper and middle back often get less attention than others. In your workouts, strive to make the strength of your muscle groups balanced and do not ignore your back muscles even though you may look at them in the mirror less than others.