Blog Fitness 12 Back Exercises for Women Who Want To Build Muscle

12 Back Exercises for Women Who Want To Build Muscle

A common misconception is that strength training, particularly that involving the back muscles, can lead to an overly bulky physique for women. This notion often discourages many women from incorporating back exercises into their fitness regimens. 


However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Executing regular back workouts is crucial for women who wish to build muscle, improve their posture, and enhance their overall body strength (7). 

These exercises can result in a stronger, lean back while also helping prevent injuries by providing valuable support to the spine. They contribute to a balanced physique by counteracting the focus on anterior body parts that are often emphasized in workouts (19). 

So, if you’re a woman who is looking to build muscle, don’t shy away from training your back. 

Here are 12 back exercises that are specifically designed for women like you who are ready to embrace strength training and sculpt a strong, healthy body.

How Do You Tone a Woman’s Back?

Toning a woman’s back involves a combination of strength training and a well-balanced diet as it also does for men. Strength training helps build muscle, and when it is performed regularly, this can lead to a toned and defined back (13). 

The key is to perform a variety of exercises targeting different parts of the back to ensure balanced muscle development.

Regarding nutrition, consuming a diet that is rich in protein and carbohydrates is essential as they aid in muscle recovery and growth. Healthy fats and carbohydrates are also essential as they provide the energy that is needed to perform and recover from workouts (5). 

Furthermore, remaining hydrated benefits muscle function and the recovery process.

In addition, consistency is vital, and regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet over a long period will yield the best results for toning your back (16). You must remember that it’s not about rapid, short-term results but sustainable, long-term health and strength.

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Are Back Workouts Good for Women?

Back workouts provide women with a host of benefits, from improving strength and posture to enhancing aesthetics and reducing injury risk. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific advantages:

Improved Posture

Back workouts can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine, which can result in improved posture. Good posture can make you appear taller and more confident while also reducing strain on your neck, shoulders, and back (24). 

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By increasing strength in your back, you can enhance the support and ability of your body to sit, stand, and move with proper alignment.

Boosted Overall Strength

Your back muscles are engaged in almost every movement you make, so strengthening them can significantly boost overall strength (2). This makes everyday activities such as lifting heavy objects or pushing a shopping cart far easier. 

In addition, stronger back muscles can improve your performance in other types of workouts or sports by enhancing power and endurance.

Reduced Risk of Injury

A strong back can help with injury prevention. This is because back workouts often target the core in addition to the back, which is crucial for maintaining balance and stability(3). By strengthening these areas, the likelihood of experiencing falls or strains from daily activities or workouts can becomes lower.

Enhanced Aesthetics

Toned back muscles can enhance a woman’s physique significantly. They can make the waist appear smaller and contribute to an hourglass figure. Also, a strong, toned back looks great in backless dresses or tops.

Prevention of Back Pain

Many adults experience back pain at some point, and a common cause of this is weak back and core muscles. Regular back workouts can strengthen these areas and potentially prevent or alleviate back pain (4).

Increased Bone Health

Back workouts often involve weight-bearing exercises that are known to improve bone health. As women age, their risk of developing osteoporosis increases. Regularly engaging in strength training can increase bone density and decrease the risk of fractures and osteoporosis (11).

female back exercises

Heightened Functional Fitness

Functional fitness is the kind of fitness that helps you perform real-life activities more easily, rather than the kind that focuses on athletic performance. As the back plays an integral role in most movements, strong back muscles make a significant contribution to functional fitness (3). Whether picking up your kids, carrying groceries, or simply bending down to tie your shoes, a strong back makes many daily tasks easier.

Improved Breathing

This may come as a surprise, but a strong back can also improve your breathing. This is because the muscles in your upper back play a key role in opening up the chest, which allows for fuller, deeper breaths (9). 

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This improves your oxygen efficiency and can also lead to better endurance in cardiovascular activities.

Boosted Metabolism

Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat (18). Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. This means that you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, even when not exercising. 

Back workouts, particularly those that involve weights, can help build more muscle and boost your metabolism.

What Back Exercises Should Women Do?

When it comes to strengthening and sculpting the back, there are several exercises for women that are particularly beneficial. These exercises target the various muscles in the back, helping to promote balanced development and contributing to enhanced strength, good posture, and an aesthetically pleasing physique:

Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown primarily targets the latissimus dorsi, a large muscle in the back, but also works the biceps, rhomboids, and middle and lower trapezius. It is excellent for improving your posture, strengthening your back, and increasing pull-up strength(8).

  1. Start by adjusting the machine to match your height and sit down
  2. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  3. Extend your arms fully, leaning back slightly with an upright posture
  4. Exhale and pull the bar down toward your chest
  5. Slowly return the bar to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row works several muscles in the back, including the rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius. It is great for improving posture and strengthening your back (15).

  1. Sit on the machine with your feet on the footrests, knees slightly bent
  2. Grasp the handles with an overhand grip
  3. Keep your back straight and pull the handles toward your abdomen
  4. Slowly return to the starting position, fully extending your arms
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps


The deadlift targets the entire back, particularly the lower back, but it also works the glutes, hamstrings, and core. This is perfect for overall strength and toning, and it can also help improve posture (22).

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes under the barbell
  2. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight as you grasp the barbell with an overhand or mixed grip
  3. Keeping your back straight, push through your heels to stand up straight, lifting the barbell off the floor
  4. Slowly lower the barbell back to the floor, maintaining control at all times
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps
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Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles. It is ideal for those who want to strengthen their back and improve their posture (6).

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart
  2. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight
  3. Keep your arms hanging down and your palms facing your torso
  4. Exhale and pull the dumbbells  to your hip
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Read more: The 30 Day Dumbbell Workout: Transform Your Body In Just A Month.

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles(21) and allows for stronger focus on one side at a time.

  1. Stand next to a bench and place your left knee and hand on it.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in the right hand with your palm facing inwards
  3. Pull the dumbbell towards your hip , keeping your elbow close to your body
  4. Lower the dumbbell down slowly
  5. Repeat with the other side of your body
  6. Complete the desired number of reps

Inverted Body Row

This bodyweight exercise targets the back muscles and helps improve posture and functional strength.

  1. Set up a bar at waist height or use a Smith machine
  2. Hold the bar with an overhand grip, arms fully extended
  3. Walk your feet forward until your body is inclined, keeping your body straight
  4. Pull your chest up to the bar
  5. Slowly lower yourself back down
  6. Perform the desired number of reps

back exercises at home

Resistance Band Pull Apart

This exercise targets the rhomboids and trapezius muscles and is excellent for improving posture and shoulder stability (10).

  1. Stand straight, holding a resistance band with both hands in front of you at chest level
  2. Pull the band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together
  3. Slowly bring your hands back together
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Kettlebell Swing

This full-body workout targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings and is ideal for improving functional strength and cardiovascular fitness (14).

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in front of you with both hands
  2. Bend at the hips, swinging the kettlebell back between your legs
  3. Thrust your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell up to chest level
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps
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Superman Exercise

This bodyweight exercise primarily targets the lower back while also working the glutes and hamstrings. It is great for strengthening the back and improving posture(1).

  1. Lie face down on the floor, arms extended in front of you
  2. Lift your arms, legs, and chest off the floor simultaneously
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your arms, legs, and chest back to the floor
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps

Stability Ball Back Extension

This exercise targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings and is excellent for strengthening the back and improving core stability (12).

  1. Position your hips and stomach on a stability ball, feet pressed against a wall for balance
  2. Place your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest
  3. Slowly lift your chest off the ball, squeezing your glutes as you do so
  4. Lower your body back to the starting position
  5. Perform the desired number of reps

Pilates Swimming Exercise

This Pilates exercise targets the lower back and helps improve balance and coordination(25).

  1. Lie face down on a mat, arms extended in front of you
  2. Lift your right arm, left leg, and chest off the ground simultaneously
  3. Switch to lift your left arm, right leg, and chest off the ground simultaneously
  4. Continue alternating in a swimming motion for the desired number of reps

T-Bar Row

This exercise targets the entire back, particularly the lats and rhomboids. It also works the biceps indirectly (23).

  1. Stand at the T-bar row machine with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Bend at your hips and knees and grasp the handles of the machine
  3. Keep your back almost parallel to the ground
  4. Pull the bar toward your upper abdomen
  5. Lower the bar until your arms are fully extended
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

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What Else Should Women Know About Building Back Muscles?

Building back muscles takes time and commitment, and as with any fitness goal, consistency is key. 

You should aim to perform your chosen exercises a minimum of two times weekly with at least 10-15 reps of each exercise for 3-4 sets per exercise (17). The weight should be challenging yet manageable, and it can be increased as you become stronger.

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It is also important to focus on good form when performing these exercises to ensure you maximize effectiveness and prevent injuries. If you’re ever unsure of the correct technique, you should seek help from a qualified personal trainer.

Make sure you fuel your body correctly with nutritious food and hydrate adequately so you get the most out of each workout session.

And don’t forget about recovery! After each workout session, you should take time to stretch out your back muscles and allow them to rest. This can help prevent injury while also supporting muscle growth. A foam roller can be an excellent tool for this purpose. 

In addition, taking a day off from exercise each week will give your body the chance it needs to repair itself and build stronger muscles.

Back line muscle woman

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important back exercise for women?

The most important back exercise for women is arguably the lat pulldown as it focuses on the latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in the back, and helps create a sleek and toned appearance.

What is the number 1 back exercise?

The deadlift is often considered to be the best back exercise as it targets both the lower and upper back muscles. It also engages other muscles, which promotes overall body strength and stability.

What are the only 5 exercises women need to build their back muscles?

While everyone has different fitness needs and goals, the five exercises that offer a comprehensive back workout for women are the deadlift, bent-over dumbbell row, single-arm dumbbell row, stability ball back extension, and lat pulldown. These exercises offer an effective way to build strength in the back muscles while improving overall posture and core stability.

Read more: Morning Workout Benefits: The 12 Best Ways They Improve Your Health.

The Bottom Line

Women can do back exercises too. In fact, the regular performance of back exercises is essential for overall health and fitness as it helps strengthen the muscles in the back, improve posture, and increase core stability. 

From deadlifts to lat pulldowns, there are many exercises that can help you target all the major muscles in the back.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. A Preliminary Study on the Equivalence between Standing Back-Extension and Superman Training in Lumbar Multifidus Exercise (2022, 
  2. A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain (2017, 
  3. Back Problems: Pros and Cons of Core Strengthening Exercises as a Part of Athlete Training (2021, 
  4. Can exercise prevent recurrent low back pain? (2010, 
  5. Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery (2004, 
  6. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness (2009, 
  7. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain (2015, 
  8. Effect of the Foot Placements on the Latissimus Dorsi and Low Back Muscle Activities during Pull-down Exercise (2013, 
  9. Effects of Classical Breathing Exercises on Posture, Spinal and Chest Mobility among Female University Students Compared to Currently Popular Training Programs (2022, 
  10. Effects of hand-grip during the inverted row with and without a suspension device: An electromyographical investigation 
  11. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health (2018,
  12. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with lumbar extensor strengthening exercises ( 2008,
  13. How can strength training build healthier bodies as we age? (2022, 
  14. Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength (2012, 
  15. Kinematics and kinetics of the seated row and implications for conditioning (2007, 
  16. Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills (2014, 
  17. Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men (2018, 
  18. Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure (1990, 
  19. The 4 most important types of exercise (2022, 
  20. The best core exercises for older adults (2021, 
  21. The Effect of Performing Bi- and Unilateral Row Exercises on Core Muscle Activation(2015, 
  22. Understanding the deadlift and its variations (2019, 
  23. Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus dorsi weight training exercises: An experimental study (2004, 
  24. Why good posture matters (2017, 
  25. Yoga and Pilates in the management of low back pain (2008, 
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