Erase back pain and straighten up your posture with these simple exercises to build back strength.
Poor posture is more than just looking slumped. It creates tightness and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Luckily, studies show that incorporating strength training and stretching into your routine can help to improve poor posture and reduce the tightness and pain that often accompanies it. (1)
While there are many ways to do strength training, we love dumbbells because they’re inexpensive and an effective way to create strong, sculpted back muscles.
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For this back-sculpting routine, we recommend starting with two light or moderately weighted dumbbells. As you become stronger and more experienced, you can increase the weight. Practice this routine two or three times per week for maximum results, and always end your strength training workouts with gentle stretching.
Back Exercises to Perk Up Your Posture
Supermans | 10 reps
Use lightweight dumbbells to give this classic back strengthening exercise an extra boost!
- Begin by lying down on your belly with your arms back alongside your body, and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Inhale as you lift your forehead, chest, dumbbells, and feet off the ground. Keep your gaze at the top of the mat so that your neck is straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift up through your pinkies.
- Hold for a moment at the top, then exhale and release back down.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
Single Arm Bent Over Rows | 10 reps per side
You’ll feel this exercise in your upper back and rear delts.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Bring a small bend into your knees and hinge at the hips, bringing your torso parallel to the ground. Hold the dumbbells straight down to the floor, and keep your shoulders back.
- Exhale as you bend your right elbow up towards the sky, coming into a row. Feel the muscles between your shoulder blades together. Then, inhale to straighten the arm back down.
- Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.
Underhand Bent Over Rows | 10 reps per side
Change up the grip to target the lats.
- Begin in the same row position as above. This time, turn your palms to face forward. Relax your arms down.
- Exhale and row both elbows up towards the sky, keeping your arms close to your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.
- Inhale to straighten the arms back down. Repeat for 10 reps.
Single Arm Plank Row | 10 reps per side
This exercise strengthens your upper back and your entire core.
- Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips in line with your shoulders. Place a dumbbell underneath your right hand.
- On an exhale, row the right elbow up, carrying the dumbbell with you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top and keep your hips as square to the floor as possible.
- Inhale to tap the dumbbell back down to the floor, and exhale to lift up again.
- Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.
Rear Delt Fly | 10 reps
Tone up your shoulders and upper back with this sculpting exercise.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Straighten your arms down towards the floor, but keep your shoulder blades drawing back. Engage your abs.
- Bring a small bend into your elbows and then take an exhale to “fly” your arms out to the sides, lifting your wrists up in line with your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Inhale to bring your arms back down below your shoulders. Repeat for 10 reps.
Single Arm Rear Delt Raise | 10 reps per side
You’ll strengthen and sculpt your arms and upper back with this one.
- Get into a lunge position with your left leg forward and your left hand on your thigh. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and straighten your arm down towards the floor.
- Turn your right palm to face forward. With a straight right arm, exhale and sweep the dumbbell back alongside your body and up, squeezing your lats and shoulder blades at the top.
- Inhale to slowly lower your arm back down towards the floor. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.
Alternating Rear Delt Fly | 10 reps per side
This rear delt variation isolates one arm at a time, strengthening the upper back and shoulders.
- Start with your feet hip-width distance apart with a small bend in your knees. Lower your torso towards the ground and reach your arms straight down to the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Engage your abs.
- Keeping a small bend in your elbow, inhale to “fly” your right arm out and up to the side. Then, exhale to slowly lower it back down to the starting position.
- Switch to the other side. Continue alternating for 10 reps per side.
Bridge Pullovers | 10 reps
This exercise strengthens the lower back, lats, and shoulders to build strong muscles.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the mat. Hold the ends of a dumbbell in each hand and straighten your arms up towards the sky.
- Lift your hips up to come in a bridge position. Then, keep the bridge position as you take an inhale and lower the dumbbells back overhead until it hovers an inch above the ground. Keep the arms straight the entire time.
- Exhale to lift the dumbbell back up towards the sky. Repeat for 10 reps.
Good Morning | 12 reps
Use this exercise to straighten your posture by strengthening the spinal muscles.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Place one dumbbell over each shoulder and hold the front of the dumbbells to keep them in place.
- Bring a small bend into your knees and engage your core. Take an inhale to hinge at your hips, keeping a straight spine as you lower your torso down and forward until your shoulders are about parallel with your hips.
- Exhale and use your lower back muscles to lift your torso back upright. Repeat for 12 reps.