7 Better Mid Back Exercises for Strength

Let me tell you! A strong, well-defined mid back is a thing of beauty. 

A resilient back will bring those shoulders back for a better posture and a relaxed neck. In this article, we’ll explore 7 better mid back exercises for strength and stability.

From the classics, to lesser known exercises, as a certified personal trainer I’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions and mid back workout tips. Read on to discover more. 

Here’s what’s coming up. 

3 Warm Up Exercises for Mid Back Muscles

Don’t hop right into lifting weights. Your back is probably stiff and needs to wake up.

Warm up your muscles with dynamic stretching to get the blood flowing and improve the quality of your mid back exercises. Your muscles will thank you with a good performance during the workout. 

You can warm up your mid-back muscles by first creating a mind-muscle connection. Just imagine your back muscles in your mind, and picture them moving and pulling. 

Foam rolling or stretching are good ways to develop mind-muscle connection for mid back exercises.

Continue your mid-back muscle warm up by doing low-intensity, scapula based workouts like the ones below. 

Resistance Band Pull-Apart

Resistance band pull-aparts are to target the muscles between your shoulder blades.

How To Do It

  • Hold a resistance band with both hands, hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the band apart, keeping your elbows straight and your shoulders down.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  • Slowly release back to the starting position.

Prone Y’s

Prone Y’s are nice to warm up your shoulders for mid back exercises. These can even be done at home with no weights for a quick and easy back routine. 

How To Do It

  • Lie face down on a mat with your arms extended overhead in a Y-shape.
  • Lift your arms and chest off the ground at the same time, squeezing your mid-back muscles.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

Superman

The Superman exercise targets the erector spinae muscles in your mid-back. 

How To Do It

  • Lie face down on a mat with your arms and legs extended. 
  • Lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground at the same time, squeezing your mid-back muscles.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

4 Strengthening
Mid Back Exercises 

You can strengthen the mid-back muscles with targeted exercises.

Help to reverse postural issues and alleviate pain and discomfort by pulling the shoulders back to reduce upper back and neck strain. 

Face Pulls

Face pulls target the muscles between your shoulder blades and your rear delts.

How To Do It

  • Attach a rope to a cable machine at shoulder height.
  • Grab the rope with both hands, palms facing inwards.
  • Step back from the machine, keeping your arms fully extended and your core engaged.
  • Pull the rope towards your face, keeping your elbows high and your shoulders down.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

Rows

Rows are a classic for mid back exercises. There are many different types of rows. I’m including seated rows, bent-over rows, and single-arm rows.

How To Perform Seated Rows

  • Sit down at a seated row machine with your feet flat on the footrests.
  • You can use a number of different bars and grips to emphasize different parts of your mid back. 
  • Pick a bar and grab the handles with an overhand grip.
  • Sit up straight, keeping your shoulders back and down.
  • Pull the handles towards your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Keep your elbows below your chest line. 
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

How To Perform Bent-Over Rows

  • Hold a barbell or ez bar with an overhand grip, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Don’t hunch and or put too much strain on your lower back. 
  • Pull the bar towards your body, bringing your elbows up and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Pull the handles towards your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Keep your elbows below your chest line. 
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

How To Perform Single-Arm Rows

  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place the opposite knee and hand on a bench.
  • Keeping your back straight, pull the dumbbell towards your body, squeezing your shoulder blade.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns target the latissimus dorsi muscle, the largest muscle in your back. 

Depending on the bar and the width of your hands, you can emphasize different areas of the lats. 

The temptation will be to lean back the heavier in weight you go. It’s best to have a slight lean and a comfortable weight for best results.

How To Do It

  • Sit down at a lat pulldown machine with your feet flat on the floor. Adjust as needed. 
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Sit up straight, keeping your shoulders back and down. 
  • Pull the bar towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly release back to the starting position.

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are considered the king of body weight mid back exercises! They are extremely challenging and do require a ton of upper body strength and control.

No worries if you can’t do a pull up yet. An alternative that is just as good is to use the assisted pull up machine! You can adjust the weight as needed and still do the motions of this powerful exercise. 

How To Do It

  • Grip a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended.
  • Pull your body up towards the bar, squeezing your shoulder blades together. It’s sometimes easier to imagine raising your chest to the bar. 
  • Hold for a second, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

8 Tips for Effective
Mid Back Exercises

  • Form over everything. When it comes to mid-back exercises you want to be safe. Keep your spine and head straight, shoulders down and back, and engage your core to maintain stability. Don’t hunch shoulders or bend awkwardly at your lower body. 
  • Don’t be a macho. It’s not about the weight, it’s how you use it. If you’re struggling to keep proper form during mid-back training, then lighten the weight to avoid injury.
  • Level up over time. Increase the intensity, weight, or volume of your mid back training as you get stronger. Progressive overload is the key to building muscle. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner or even overweight.
  • Mix it up. Try a variety of bars, grips, and exercises in your mid-back training routine. This will help you hit muscles from different angles and prevent fitness boredom.
  • Compound is king. Compound exercises like rows and pull-ups are really effective. They target multiple muscles at once, including engaging your core. Get more out of workouts in less time. 
  • Workout hack: isometric holds. Add isometric holds to your workout to build endurance. This will increase the time your muscles are under tension and improve stability for mid back exercises.
  • Rest is best. How often should you go to the gym? It depends on your routine, but understand that rest days are essential. Rest days allow your muscles to rebuild and repair.
  • Not so secret ingredient: consistency. You won’t see results after one day, one week, or one month. It’s about the grind and the daily effort for a long time. Do that and you’ll see results guaranteed. 

Why Should I Do
Mid Back Exercises?

mid back exercises

There are so many moving muscles in your mid back, that it’s beneficial to keep them strong and in motion.

In fact, adding mid back mobilization to everyday exercises increased the muscular strength of patients with chronic low back pain in this study

Don’t only workout what you see, but pay attention to what’s behind you. Workout your mid back because it supports your upper body and protects your spinal cord.

Thick muscles support the mid-back and help to maintain proper posture and stability. Mid back exercises will give you that aesthetic 3D look, but also supports healthy shoulder blade movement. 

In the same way, don’t forget you lower body for stability and strength either! Quads, glutes, and hamstrings all play an important role in everyday life just like your mid back.

What’s The Most Common Reason
for a Weak Mid Back? 

The most common reason for a weak mid back is prolonged sitting. This can cause poor posture, tension, or pain. 

Common postural issues and mid-back muscle weakness are related.

  • If the mid-back muscles are weak, the shoulders round forward and cause the chest muscles to tighten. The upper back stretches out then, causing weakness. Mid back exercises are important to prevent this.
  • There’s nothing wrong with relaxing on the couch after a long day of work. In fact, there’s ways you can burn calories with everyday activities.

But it’s becoming more common now to sit at the desk and at home. And you know that there’s no way to endure 8 hours of perfect posture, especially if you’re overweight.

So give your mid back an opportunity to reverse the effects of sitting by strengthening it with exercise. 

Anatomy and Function
of Mid Back 

The mid-back is located between the upper back and the lower back and is also known as the thoracic spine. There are several muscles in the mid-back, each with their own function:

  • Trapezius: Also called traps and divided into three parts: the upper, middle, and lower. The upper trapezius elevates, the middle trapezius pulls them towards the spine, and the lower trapezius pulls them downward. 
  • Rhomboids: These are between the shoulder blades and help to pull them towards the spine. 
  • Erector spinae: This group of muscles runs along both sides of the spine and helps maintain posture and stability in the mid-back.
  • Latissimus dorsi: These are the largest muscles in your upper body and both sides of your mid back. They pull the arms down towards the body.
  • Teres major: This muscle is found underneath the latissimus dorsi. It helps to internally rotate your arm and bring it towards your body. 
  • Teres minor: This muscle is located underneath the rotator cuff muscles of your shoulder and helps to externally rotate the arm.

Bottom Line

Incorporate mid back exercises into your workout routine to build a stronger physique.

Not only that, but you’ll balance the negative effects of sitting all day. 

With dedication and proper form, you’ll be on your way to a resilient mid-back in no time!

AUTHOR

Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!