Here at Philip Wood Physiotherapy we’re often asked about our favourite exercises. We always say that the answer depends on the patient! We provide personalised treatment plans that include a tailored exercise program. But – confession time – we do have a few favourites when it comes to strengthening the upper back. (Shhhh – it’s a secret!)

If you’re ready to sculpt a back worthy of admiration and bolster your spine’s resilience you’re in the right place. Today, we’re uncovering the power trio of upper back exercises – banded rows, pull-ups, and trap shrugs – that will not only have you standing taller but also moving with newfound grace and ease. Read on to find out more… But if you have any aches or pains or are recovering from injury, please give us a call on 02 9838 3030 so we can ensure you’ve got an exercise program that’s right for you!

Banded Rows: Unleash the Power of Resistance

Picture this: you’re seated, resistance band in hand, and you begin to pull towards your chest with purpose. What you’re doing is not just engaging your upper back muscles but also challenging them to work against resistance – a key ingredient for muscle growth and strength. Banded rows target the rhomboids, traps, and rear deltoids, promoting better posture, shoulder stability, and overall upper body function. By incorporating banded rows into your routine, you’re not just pulling weight; you’re pulling yourself closer to a well-supported spine. And all you need is a resistance band and a sturdy anchor point (we like pieces of furniture that don’t budge!)

Pull-Ups: Rise to New Heights

Next on the agenda: pull-ups. Ah, the timeless classic of upper body strength training. There’s something undeniably empowering about hoisting yourself up towards the sky, using nothing but your own strength and sheer determination. Pull-ups are the ultimate test of upper back and arm strength, targeting the lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps with unparalleled efficiency. But beyond the bragging rights of mastering this challenging exercise lies a myriad of benefits for your upper back health. Pull-ups improve scapular stability, enhance grip strength, and promote symmetrical muscle development—all essential components of a resilient and well-functioning upper back. And the great thing is that you don’t need to actually achieve a pull up to reap the benefits. Start by activating the back and just lifting yourself slightly. You can build up strength over time.

Trap Shrugs: Elevate and Activate

Last but certainly not least: trap shrugs. As the name suggests, this exercise is all about giving your trapezius muscles the attention they deserve. The traps, those triangular muscles that extend from the base of your skull to the middle of your back, play a crucial role in shoulder and neck stability, as well as in maintaining proper posture. Trap shrugs involve elevating and retracting the shoulders against resistance, effectively targeting the upper traps, and helping to build that coveted “V” shape in your upper back. But beyond aesthetics, trap shrugs also improve shoulder mobility, reduce neck tension, and enhance overall upper body function. So, whether you’re aiming for boulder shoulders or simply seeking relief from desk-induced stiffness, trap shrugs are the way to go. And they’re so easy. You just shrug (with great form) while holding weights!


So there you have it – a few of our favourite upper body exercises. But we know that everybody is different and that your goals and obstacles are different too. At  Philip Wood Physiotherapy our team of skilled physiotherapists is here to guide you on your journey to strength, mobility, and resilience. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, looking to prevent future pain, or simply seeking to optimise your performance, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call on 02 9838 3030 to schedule an appointment today. With the right exercises and expert guidance, you’ll be standing tall, moving freely in no time. Let’s get to work!