Is your back workout not delivering the results you expect? If your efforts to create a well-defined rear view are leaving you less than impressed, perhaps its time for a new approach — a “friendly takeover” of your regular routine may be in order, shaking non-responsive muscles out of their complacency and into higher levels of performance.

This top-down approach to back management begins with the upright row, which activates the upper reaches of your back muscles, including the trapezius. While women don’t necessarily desire a protruding, defined trap muscle, that result is not a danger, especially as used here in more of a warm-up role.

Next is the pull-up and kettlebell row, the barbell deadlift, follows, although you won’t do it with maximum strength in mind. You’ll finish with a dynamic posterior chain move, the kettlebell swing, and finally the back extension, a bodyweight move that directly targets the erector spinae of the low back.

All together, these six exercises can provide a comprehensive overhaul, ensuring no key area of the back escapes scrutiny. Give the plan a month or two — your flagging morale should get a boost next time your back is up for review.

Top-To-Bottom Back Workout:

Barbell Upright Row325, 20, 15
Pull-Up3As many as possible
Bent-Over Two-Arm Kettlebell Row320, 15, 10
Barbell Deadlift38–10
Kettlebell Swing315–20
Exercise-Ball Back Extension320

Barbell Upright Row:

Barbell Upright Row

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip just outside shoulder-width.
  • Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, eyes forward and core engaged, flex your shoulders and pull the barbell straight up toward your chin, leading with your elbows and keeping the bar close to your body.
  • At the top your elbows will be pointed up and out to the sides.
  • Hold for a second before slowly lowering the bar to the start.

Related article: Will My Body Shape & Lift If I Just Use A Barbell? These 6 Moves In 1 Workout Will Achieve This

Bent-Over Two-Arm Kettlebell Row:

Bent-Over Two-Arm Kettlebell Row

How to:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and grasp a kettlebell in each hand.
  • Hinge at your hips until your torso is roughly 45 degrees to the floor with the weights hanging straight down, and your head is aligned with your spine.
  • Drive your elbows up and back and pull the weights toward each you’re your abdomen as high as you can.
  • Hold at the top for one count, then slowly reverse the motion.
  • (If you don’t have kettlebells, you can substitute dumbbells.)

Related article: Build Muscle And Torch Calories In No Time With This 20 Minute Kettlebell Fat Burning Workout



How to:

  • Grasp a fixed overhead bar with a wide overhand grip.
  • Hang freely, arms fully extended and ankles crossed behind you.
  • Pull your shoulder blades in toward one another then drive your elbows down toward your sides to raise yourself as high as you can.
  • When your chin rises above the level of the bar, pause briefly then lower back to the fully extended position.

Related article: Try One Of These 3 Pull-Up Workouts To Get Your Lats Pumped Quick

Barbell Deadlift:

Barbell Deadlift

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly and positioned just beneath the barbell.
  • Kick your hips back then bend your knees while keeping a flat back to grab the barbell on either side of your legs with an alternating grip.
  • Your hips should be higher than your knees, shoulders over the bar, shins perpendicular to the floor, head neutral.
  • With your back flat, lift the bar from the floor by extending your hips and knees.
  • Keep your arms straight as you drag the bar up your legs until you are standing.
  • Squeeze your glutes then lower the bar downward along the same path until it touches the floor.

Related article: Get More Booty And Curvaceous Glutes With These 4 Deadlift Variations For Women

Kettlebell Swing:

Kettlebell Swing

How to:

  • Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width, holding a kettlebell by its handle with both hands in front of your hips.
  • Keeping a flat back, swing the kettlebell back between your legs, then snap your hips forward and swing it forward and upward in an arc with straight arms until it reaches shoulder height.
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing back down under control and back between your legs.
  • Continue linking your reps together.

Related article: Stability Ball Workout For A Strong Well Defined Core & Legs

Exercise-Ball Back Extension:

Exercise-Ball Back Extension

How to:

  • Lie facedown on an exercise ball with your hips centered on the ball you’re your legs extended behind you, spaced wider for balance or anchored underneath a stable object.
  • Cross your hands over your chest or place your fingertips lightly behind your ears.
  • Lower your torso down along the ball as far as you can without rounding your back, then flex your glutes to lift yourself up until your body makes a straight line.
  • Continue, lowering and raising for reps.