Best Back Exercises for Women

Medically Reviewed by Ross Brakeville, DPT on March 20, 2023
4 min read

Practically every movement you make involves your back in some way — bending, stretching, walking, sitting. A healthy back is key for maintaining balance and coordination, both during exercise and in daily life. Therefore, it’s important to help your back stay strong.

The back consists of an intricate network of muscles running down the length of your spine. Whether at the rhomboid muscles of the upper back or the erector spinae at the base of the spine, there are many places where pain and discomfort can potentially seep through. That’s why it’s important to exercise your back regularly. 

Women approaching these exercises should go at their own pace. Expect to make gradual improvement rather than quick gains in strength. 

As many as 80 percent of people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. The purpose of these workouts is to improve your back strength, which can help you avoid such pain or discomfort in the future. 

All of these exercises can be done wherever you are — in the comfort of your home or at a gym.

Bent Over Rows

This is an excellent back exercise that strengthens your latissimus dorsi muscle (on the back and sides of your body, below your arm), rhomboids (muscles next to your spine), and rotator cuffs (shoulder muscles). 

Step 1: From a standing position and holding a pair of weights (or books if you don’t have weights), lower your knees and push your hips back so that your torso is bent over parallel to the floor. 

Step 2: Extend the weights down toward the floor and then retract your arms in a straight line to your rib cage. 

Step 3: Hold the weights to your ribcage for a moment, then lower them in a straight line again, and repeat. 

You can repeat this 10 to 15 times. 


This classic exercise works your upper body, including your shoulders, triceps (muscles on the back of your upper arm), and pectoral (chest) muscles. 

Step 1: The starting position is best on stairs with your hands on the 4th step and your feet extended out behind you or the floor or landing. 

Step 2: Straighten your body, tighten your core, and bend your elbows until you just barely touch your chest to the floor. 

Step 3: Lift yourself back to a plank position and repeat. 

Repeat this exercise up to 10 times. As strength improves, lower hands to 3rd step, then 2nd  until you start at a plank position on the floor.  


This exercise works both the upper and lower back at the same time. It can also help the hamstring muscles in your legs and your glutes. 

Step 1: Lay down on the floor, touching your stomach flat on the ground. 

Step 2: With arms extended in front of you, begin lifting your head, chest, and arms up away from the ground as much as you can.

Step 3: Raise your legs up behind you also. Imagine trying to form a letter “U” with your back at the center. 

You can repeat this exercise up to 10 times. 

Upright Rows

Your middle and upper back, as well as your shoulders, will thank you for performing this exercise regularly.

Step 1: Holding a pair of weights in each hand (or books if you don’t have weights), stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Step 2: Turn your palms to face your body and, still holding the weights, pull your elbows up to and above your shoulders. 

Step 3: Relax your arms and lower the weights back toward the floor. 

You can repeat upright rows as many as 10 to 15 times. 

Reverse Fly 

Use a comfortable pair of weights for this exercise, which works the upper back and shoulders.

Step 1: With a pair of dumbbells in each hand, stand shoulder-width apart and bend your knees forward, arching your back slightly. 

Step 2: Extend your arms out to the sides like a hawk extending its wings, tightening your arm and shoulder muscles as you do so. 

Step 3: Lower your arms back down and relax. 

Repeat this 10 to 15 times. 

A little goes a long way. These exercises should all be done slowly and deliberately, keeping an eye on the amount of weight that you can use. Don’t overload yourself, and avoid pushing yourself too hard. 

It’s normal to feel some soreness a day or two after a workout, especially if you’re out of practice. However, if you feel any sharp pains during the exercises themselves, you should stop the exercise immediately. Talk to a doctor if the pain persists for days or weeks.