The ONLY 2 Upper Back Exercises You Need

Discover the two essential upper back exercises that will strengthen and sculpt your back muscles effectively. Improve your posture and enhance your overall upper body strength.


What would you say if I told you there were only 2 upper back exercises you need to do in order to get a yoked upper back and traps? In this video, I am going to show you the two upper back exercises that should make up the bare minimum of your back workouts. Not only are these two upper back exercises great for building big traps but they will also help you in your compound lifts. 60% off all AX programs - Subscribe to this channel here - Some might tell you that you only need two exercises total in order to build a muscle group. I disagree. I don’t think anyone should be limited to picking just two exercises for a muscle group because each one often has multiple muscle heads as well as multiple functions that can be targeted individually through exercise selection. The chest is great example of this; it has three heads as well as two separate functions. Some might tell you that all you need is a flat bench press and an incline bench press. You are only hitting two of the three heads of the chest with this selection and while you are pressing, you are not getting adduction - another function of the chest. In the case of the upper back muscles, you need to understand that they include more than just the upper traps. The upper back is also made up of the middle and lower traps as well as the rhomboids predominately. Targeting and developing these muscles effectively will give that “yoked” appearance as well as provide stability and strength that will carry over to the big lifts. Often in the case of performing compound lifts such as the bench press, squat, and deadlift; it is not the major muscle groups lacking strength that causes a failed lift. It happens to be the upper back not being strong or stable enough to handle such loads that end up causing the lift to fall apart. In the case of the upper back, this is simply the foundation of what your upper back training should include. Not every upper back workout needs to include both of these exercises, but a complete training plan for your back will at least build off them or include them at some point. The first upper back exercise of the only two upper two back exercises you need is a variation of what Swede Burns likes to call a Throat Pull. This exercise will target the upper traps, rhomboids, levator scap, and rear delts - the major muscles that make up the upper back. The first version of the Throat Pull requires a low anchored cable and a rope attachment. Lean forward with a good hip hinge, grab the rope with an overhand grip and row the ropes up towards the level of your neck. At the same time, you want to shrug the muscles of the upper back backwards instead of upwards like on a traditional shrug. The other version of the throat pull can be performed on an incline bench with an E-Z curl bar. Kneeling over the bench with your chest on the pad, grab the bar and push back towards your body to engage your lats. From here, bring the bar forwards and again row up towards your neck while shrugging. Choose either variation as the first of your two upper back exercises, depending on what equipment you have access to. The second upper back exercise you need to build a bigger upper back is one of my favorite exercises of all time. The Face Pull with an overhead raise. This exercise effectively targets the upper back muscles to help develop the middle and lower traps, rhomboids and rear delts. Remember that when performing this exercise, you want to achieve external rotation by leading the movement with the thumbs pointing backwards. Doing so will help keep the shoulders in a healthy position while building the supporting muscles of the upper back and traps. You can superset these two exercises, as Swede mentions, to build muscle in the upper back. Building stronger muscles in this area is also important towards posture. Having poor posture not only affects your appearance, but how well you can perform in the gym as well. We know that bad posture creates limitations when performing exercises with proper form and range of motion. Now, if you want to take your back training to the next level that hits every function of the upper back as well as targets the muscles from different angles, there are many exercises to choose from. I don’t think we should ever be limited to just two exercises for a muscle group, the upper back included. But you should at least start with these two exercises to build the foundation of your upper back’s growth. If you’re looking for a step-by-step training program that will take your workouts to the next level, be sure to head over to and find the workout program that matches your goals. For more videos on how to get a bigger upper back and the best exercises to do just that, make sure you subscribe to this channel here on YouTube and remember to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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