Looking for upper back strength? Check this out…

New to NIKA, Coach Kara still knows her stuff! Here she answers the next question in our “Ask a Coach” series, “What are the best workouts to build muscle in your upper back?”

Winter is Coming…

But that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on our goals for nice backs in those racerback tanks!

Beyond just looking good, back strengthening can improve your posture, help keep you injury free, and improve overall confidence.

Here are a few exercises for all levels to build muscle in your upper back.


While laying flat on your stomach, engage your abs to help maintain a neutral spine. Then, engage your glutes and lift your torso and legs off the ground. Only your lower abdomen and the top of your quads should remain in contact with the ground. Think 1980s Superman flying pose.

Supermans are not only a great way to start activating that upper back, they are also a great way to build the mid-line stability that will help with the other movements on this list.


Push-ups are a great back builder if you do them right. Yes, that means no snaking on these! Keep your hands under your shoulders and elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body. If that full range of motion doesn’t allow you to maintain a core-tight position, consider dropping to your knees while maintaining straight body alignment. Another option – use the rig and a band for your pull-ups. Remember – booty down!


Regardless of where you are in your progress to a pull-up, pulling movements are great back builders.

  • Ring row – before even starting your row, focus on bringing your shoulders down and back by activating your lats and keeping a neutral, unrounded spine.
  • Seated Pull-up – start seated on the ground under the rig with a barbell at the height of your wrists while your arms are at full extension. Pull as you would hanging from the rigs, and use your legs to supplement your pull as needed.
  • Close Grip Pull-up – Already have pull-ups? Great! Work on strict, close-grip pull-ups. Your hands should be no wider than your shoulders. Begin each rep by contracting your lats and bringing your shoulder blades down before pulling with your arms.

As you are looking over your shoulder in the mirror checking for those #gains, remember that nutrition plays a role in both your ability to build muscle and bring that muscle out of hiding! If you aren’t seeing the gains you want, go back to the base of the CrossFit pyramid – nutrition!

In Health,


Are you ready to learn how to improve your fitness? Sign up for your Free New Member Consultation: https://kilo.gymleadmachine.com/widget/appointment/nikaathletics/free-intro

Already a member and want to discuss improving your performance? Talk to a coach about setting up a goal setting session.

Start here

Book a free intro today so we can learn all about you, your goals and how we can help you reach them
Free Intro