The upper back

The upper back muscles are some of the most neglected muscles of one’s body. In order to have the chiseled physique you desire, the upper back has to be built.

In this article, you will learn the keys to create the ultimate upper back-muscle building workout and design your program to add muscle mass to this neglected area.


Understanding function and structure

The larger skeletal muscles of the upper back are the Latissimus Dorsi and the Trapezius. The main function of both muscles are spinal support and stability.

The smaller muscles of the upper back are the Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, Teres-minor, Teres-major and Rhomboids.

The main function of these smaller muscles is to support and stabilize the shoulder and aide in pulling action exercises. Now that we have established the major players in upper back, let’s increase their size.

The best muscle mass workout

The best upper back muscle mass workouts involve circuit training with a focus on hypertrophy. The workout programs can be dedicated to specifically to the upper back or a push/pull concept.

The strength training program that is specifically focused on building the upper back will have eight to ten exercises that involve pulling, rowing, shrugging and spinal support.

Exercises would include but are not limited to:

– Lat pull-downs,
– T-bar rows,
– Seated rows,
– Shrugs,
– Farmer’s carries.

In order to create a hypertrophic setting, have four to five sets with six to twelve repetitions each. Rest time should be forty-five seconds to one minute.

I recommend a circuit training to maximize your training regimen. The circuit will have two to three exercises, four sets and reps from six to twelve. You can have fantastic upper back workout with three circuits totaling nine exercises.

upper back muscle mass workout_3Here is a sample workout: Upper Back

Circuit 1: 4 x 12

1. Pull ups wide grip

2. Cable standing row

3. Rear Delt Ext

Circuit 2: 4 x 10

1. DB Bent over Row

2. DB Shrugs

3. DB Farmer’s Walk

Circuit 3: 4 x 10

1. Lat pull down

2. Cable face pull

3. Plank DB 1 arm row

The Push/Pull concept is another great way to develop muscle mass for the upper back. Again, the circuit training format with a hypertrophic focus is the optimal program.

Plan the workout with eight to ten exercises with the focus on more pulling exercises.

This style of workout is great to utilize the upper back muscles as primary movers in the pulling exercises and then become potential stabilizers in pushing exercises. The sets of the exercises are four to five and repetitions six to twelve.

upper back muscle mass workout_2Here is a sample workout: Push/Pull

Circuit 1: 4 x 10

1. Push ups

2. DB Bent over Row

3. DB Power Shrugs

Circuit 2: 4 x 12

1. Pull ups

2. Lat pull down

3. DB 1 incline chest press

Circuit 3: 4 x 10

1. DB push press

2. DB 1 arm row

3. Rear Delt Ext

When strength training to put on muscle mass the focus of the program is hypertrophy. The workouts focusing on volume of reps and sets will send the appropriate physiological signals for your upper back to grow. 

Please contact me if you have any questions or are interested in building training programs.

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