If you’ve ever had a backache, you know just how miserable it can be. Every movement your body makes will engage your back in some way, so a hurt one means you’re down and out — which is no fun at all!

Strengthening your back muscles can help prevent these types of injuries and ensure that your entire body works smoothly, both during daily movements and during exercise.

But with the plethora of back exercises out there on the internet, you may be a little overwhelmed — especially if you’re a newbie. We’ve taken out the guesswork for you and put together a list of the 15 best back moves you can do for overall strength and performance.

First things first:

When we talk about your back, which muscles are we targeting? Primary muscles in the back include the:

  • lats, which are in the area below your armpits down the sides of your back
  • rhomboids, which are in the mid-upper back
  • traps, which run from your neck to your mid back
  • erector spinae, a group of muscles that run along your spine

All of the exercises below target a combination of these muscles.

The warmup

Start with 5 to 10 minutes of moderate cardio to get your blood pumping and start to awaken your muscles. Then do a five-minute stretching sequence to prep your back for targeted exercises. This routine is a great starting point. Also, if at any point these moves cause you pain, stop what you’re doing and rest.

The moves

Choose three to five of these exercises to create your own back workout, which you can do twice weekly (or more) to reach your goals. Aim to hit all 15 of these exercises within a two-week span to ensure your routine is well rounded.

1. Resistance band pull apart

A great exercise to kick off your back workout, the resistance band pull apart is simple but effective. Choose a resistance band that allows you to complete 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps with good form.


  1. Stand with your arms extended. Hold a resistance band taut in front of you with both hands so the band is parallel to the ground.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band to your chest by moving your arms out to your sides. Initiate this movement from your mid back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping your spine straight, then slowly return to start.

2. Quadruped dumbbell row

This exercise takes you back to the basics of the row, fixing many form issues, such as over-rowing at the top of the movement, overstretching the arm at the bottom of the movement, and lower-back compensation. Do this exercise before completing any other rowing movements.


  1. Get on all fours with a dumbbell positioned in each hand. Ensure your back is straight, hands are directly below shoulders, and knees are directly below hips.
  2. Row up with your right arm, pulling your elbow up and bringing the dumbbell to your armpit. Keep your elbow tucked throughout the movement. You’ll notice here that if you row too far, you’ll lose your balance.
  3. Extend your arm, returning the dumbbell to the ground, and repeat on the left side.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.