Strengthening your back obviously has aesthetic benefits, but, more importantly, it’s imperative for better daily function, including posture and preventing injury. (Because who likes back pain, right?)

If you’re committed to developing a stronger back but aren’t sure what to do or where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Here are six exercises and three stretches to ensure you’re giving those back muscles some TLC.

Complete 3 sets of these strength exercises with 1 to 2 minutes of rest in between. You’ll need a few pieces of equipment, including a resistance band, two sets of light dumbbells (3 to 5 pounds and 8 to 10 pounds should work fine for most), as well as one moderate-weight dumbbell (about 12 pounds).

Remember to breathe throughout each movement. Keep your spine aligned, and focus on your back muscles contracting to establish that mind-muscle connection and get the most out of your workout.


1. High rotating plank

Rotating planks are a whole-body move. They’re a great warmup for a back workout.

  1. Assume a high plank position: Form a straight line from
    head to toe, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Stack your hands under
    your shoulders, and keep your neck in a neutral position. Engage your lower
    back and core.
  2. Starting on your left side, pick your hand up off the
    ground and extend your arm and open your chest, directing your gaze up. Pause
    for 1 second, and return your hand to starting position.
  3. Repeat step 2 on the right side.
  4. Continue, alternating sides, for 30 seconds. Complete 3

2. High pulley cable row

Grab a resistance band for this high pulley cable row. Choose a level that challenges you, but not enough to compromise your form. Feel your lats and rhomboids — a key muscle for good posture — working during this movement.

  1. Anchor the band above your head and sit, grabbing it
    with both hands, arms extended.
  2. Keeping both feet on the ground and your back straight,
    pull your elbows straight back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
    Release, extending your arms back to start.
  3. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

3. Dumbbell pullover

You’ll need a yoga ball or bench for this exercise as well as one moderate-weight dumbbell. Start with 10 or 12 pounds if you’re a beginner. Not only will this dumbbell pullover target your lats, it’ll require your core to work overtime.

  1. Hold the dumbbell with both hands. Position yourself on
    the ball or bench so your upper back is supported on the surface and your knees
    are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Extend your arms over your head so they’re parallel
    with the ground.
  3. Keeping your arms extended and core engaged, pull the
    dumbbell up and over your head. When your arms reach perpendicular to the
    ground, lower them back to start.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

4. Bent-over row

A bent-over row is a must in a back workout since it targets multiple key muscles, including the traps, lats, and rhomboids. Grab a set of light- to moderate-weight dumbbells for this move. For beginners, 8 or 10 pounds will do.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Hinge forward at the
    waist to a 45-degree angle. Keep your core braced, knees soft, and neck
  2. Bend your arms, pulling your elbows straight up and
    back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause and return to start.
  3. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Rear delt fly

The rear deltoid fly targets your upper back, including your traps, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids. You can perform this exercise standing or kneeling. The kneeling version requires more stability through the core. Three or 5-pound dumbbells will work here.

  1. Kneel on a mat, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hinge
    forward at the waist so your upper body forms a 45-degree angle with the ground.
    Let your arms hang in front of you.
  2. Keeping your neck neutral and core engaged, push the
    dumbbells up and out from your midline, squeezing your shoulder blades at the
    top. Pause and lower your arms.
  3. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

6. Superman

Work your lower back with a superman. This bodyweight exercise is a challenge, requiring strength and control.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms extended over your
  2. Engaging your core and glutes, lift your upper body and
    legs off the ground as high as you can go. Pause for 1 second at the top, and
    return to starting position.
  3. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

After you’ve completed the strength portion of this routine, don’t forget to stretch. These three back-specific stretches will help restore your muscles and joints and prevent next-day soreness.

1. Child’s Pose

  1. Kneel on the floor
    with your feet underneath your bottom and knees spread as wide as your hips.
  2. Inhale and bend
    forward, laying your torso between your thighs and extending your arms out
  3. Place your palms on
    the floor. Breathe here for 30 seconds to a minute, sinking lower into the
    torso bend as you go.

2. Twist

  1. Lie on your back and
    bring your legs to tabletop, arms straight out at your sides.
  2. Engaging your core,
    allow your knees to slowly drop to one side. Breathe here for 30 seconds.
  3. Engaging your core
    once more, bring your legs back up to tabletop and drop your knees to the other
    side. Breathe here again for 30 seconds.

3. Cat-Cow

  1. Start on all fours with a neutral spine. Inhale and
    look up toward the sky, dropping your torso to the ground.
  2. Exhale and arch your back, bringing your gaze down to
    the ground.
  3. Repeat this sequence 5 times.

Completing this routine once or twice a week will earn you a stronger back in just a month. Remember to progressively add weight and resistance so you continue to challenge your muscles and increase your strength.

Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.