Back Exercises For Women To Strengthen And Tone

Back exercises for women are one of the best ways to add strength and tone. There are so many good reasons to work on strengthening your back. It could be because you’ve suffered a back injury in the past, struggling with back pain, or just looking to mix up a workout routine and get a little more dynamic! You’ll never go wrong with adding in a few back strengthening exercises. Our back is responsible for supporting our entire body every day which means it needs to be nice and strong.

Not only will strengthening the back keep your body fit and strong, it will also help improve overall body physique. As a physiotherapist, I see many back injuries. To avoid injury and get the best results, I recommend focusing on all the muscle groups that comprise your back (there’s quite a few). To strengthen and tone these muscles, you can complete the follow exercises as a circuit by doing 12 to 15 repetitions of each for a total of three rounds. You could also do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each individual exercise before moving onto the next.

Here’s a look at my top 15 back strengthening exercises for women…


The deadlift is one of the most functional back strengthening exercises you can complete. It strengthens just about every muscle in your back and gives you a fantastic workout.


Superman’s are one of the best exercises for toning and strengthening the back. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time sitting (i.e. for work), then this is a good exercise for you! It can also help alleviate lower back pain.

One Arm Dumbbell Row

We’ve got two dumbbell exercises on this slideshow because they are just that great! Grab a dumbbell and complete a set of one arm rows to help strengthen the latissimus dorsi — this is the muscle that wraps around your mid back.

Side Plank

Planks are one of the best exercises for toning the body and targeting multiple areas at once. While a side plank is a little more difficult, it’s even better for results! A side plank will help tone the obliques (part of the core muscles), a muscle that wraps around the body and back making up part of the back muscle group.

Barbell Good-Mornings

Nothing will strengthen your lower back than a few sets of barbell good mornings. Be careful not to go too heavy and make sure to focus on your technique.

Standing Band Pull-Aparts

Want to really get the upper back fired up? Standing band pull-aparts will help strengthen and tone the muscles between the shoulder blades offering a nice sculpted look. If you’re someone who sits a lot during the day, this exercise can help fix any posture problems.

Bent Over Dumbbell Rows

Bent over dumbbell rows are easy and super effective. This exercise requires using the lower back muscles so it will do wonders for targeting them. These muscles are important because they support the upper body while you use your arms to row the weight up beside your body.

Lat Pull Downs

You can either use the lat pulldown machine at the gym or a set of bands at home to perform a lat pulldown. You don’t always need the fancy equipment at the gym! This exercise will help strengthen the muscles in your upper to middle back while also giving you a nice and toned look.

Inverted Ring Rows

This exercise isn’t for everyone as it does require some very specific equipment. By using either rings or a TRX setup, hang below the bar and slowly pull your body up towards the ceiling. This exercise will blast your core, biceps and your back muscles.

Pull Ups

This is one of the ultimate back exercises. If you can’t do a pull up by yourself, you can use a chair to step on and help you out or set up a band to give you assistance.

Plank with Toe Taps

Yes, this is traditionally thought of as a core exercise, but it also activates many of the muscles located deep in your lower back. You can strengthen the core and back at the same time by adding in a few sets of planks with toe taps.

Reverse Fly

This is a great exercise for toning the upper back. Grab a set of dumbbells and slowly bend at the hips. Make sure the core is engaged! Bring your heart towards the floor and hold this position. Slowly raise the dumbbells towards the ceiling working the muscles in the upper back.

Glute Bridges

Glute bridges are obviously meant for targeting the glutes, but they also give a nice workout to the lower back. Plus, they can be easily added into any exercise routine since they don’t require any equipment!

Start by lying on your back and slowly raising your hips off the ground by squeezing your buttocks, and then lowering them back to the floor. Repeat for any number of desired reps.

Renegade Dumbbell Rows

You might think this exercise is just to build strength in the arms, but it also targets the back muscles and core! As a result, renegade dumbbell rows are considered a very functional exercise. Grab a set of dumbbells and give it a try!

Oblique Crunches

While this popular exercise is clearly targeted to the oblique muscles, it also helps tone the muscles in the lower back and core. To perform this exercise, start by lying on the ground and gently lift your chest off the ground. Then bend to each side and tap each ankle, squeeze the core muscles as you perform each rep.

If you’re completing these exercises as part of a circuit, perform 12-15 reps of each with minimal rest in between exercises until finishing off the round. Minimizing rest periods will help burn more calories and tone back muscles. With the recommended amount of reps, you’ll work on building strength and endurance in every muscle group in the back.

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.