Resistance Band Exercises for Mid & Upper Back
Keep your middle and upper back muscles strong in order to maintain good posture. Chin-up bars and exercise machines are expensive, but you can do many of the same exercises using a resistance band. Exercise bands come in many levels of resistance. It is best to have several different levels on hand, since exercises vary in difficulty and your muscles have varying strengths.
Lateral rows are similar to seated rows on a weight machine. They use many of your mid and upper back muscles, including your latissimus dorsi and trapezius. Start by wrapping the center of the resistance band securely around both sides of a doorknob, leaving the door open. While standing opposite the door and holding one end of the band in each hand, brace your feet and slowly pull your arms toward yourself until your hands are level with your chest and your elbows are behind your torso. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription recommends performing eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Bent-Over Lateral Raise
Bent-over lateral raises primarily use your trapezius in your upper back, but they also use many of your shoulder muscles. To do this exercise with a resistance band, stand on the center of the band with both feet. Bend at your waist and hold one end of the band in each hand. Raise your arms to the sides until they are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to use more of your upper back muscles.
Upright rows not only use your trapezius muscles, but also your deltoid muscles in your shoulders. Keeping your hands close together shifts the focus from your deltoids to your trapezius muscle. Stand on the center of the band and hold one side of the resistance band in each hand with the end toward your thumb. Pull both arms up simultaneously, leading with your elbows, until your hands reach your chin. Keep your legs and back steady; your only movement should be in your arms.
Lat pull-downs principally use your latissimus dorsi muscle in your middle back, hence the name. Feed your resistance bands through the opening in a door anchor and hold a handle in each hand. Step back, away from the door and pull the bands until they're just stretching. Kneel with one knee on the floor. Lean your upper torso slightly forward over your knee. Pull the bands down until the handles are at your shoulder height and your elbows are splayed out to the sides. Release your arms back to the start and then continue pulling and releasing for the lat pull-downs. Pulling your shoulder blades together during this exercise will include your lower trapezius too.
Bent rows use your latissimus dorsi and trapezius, as well as many other smaller muscles. Stand on the center of the resistance band, holding one side in each hand with your thumbs pointing down. While keeping your back straight to prevent injury, lean forward, bend your knees slightly and hang your arms down. Pull your elbows up and back until your hands are even with your torso.
- ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine
- Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
- Park SY, Yoo WG, An DH, Oh JS, Lee JH, Choi BR. Comparison of isometric exercises for activating latissimus dorsi against the upper body weight. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2015;25(1):47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2014.09.001
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Julie Larsen is a certified clinical exercise specialist and a registered dietitian. She graduated from Washington State University Spokane with a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology and metabolism. She has been writing fro various online publications since October 2009.