The Best Back Workouts for Women

best back exercises for women

What are the best back workouts for women? That was the question from readers I’m answering in this post. Here’s the truth though — no two women have the same history or want the same results, so workout variables may need to change a bit based on your needs.

What I’ll do here is give you the best back workouts for women based on decades of experience working with midlife women. In a nod to our pandemic moment, everything I’ll include here can be done at home with dumbbells or with substitute “weights.”

If you’re just starting out, find two water bottles and fill them with rocks first, sand next, and water last. Seal it tight and you have a good starter set of dumbbells. You might also want to check out the Definitive Guide to Exercise for Women Over 50.

Love Hate Exercise

I’ll give you one exception. That is a pull up. If you have the ability to create a pull up station in your house, do it! If you think you can’t do a pull up… you’ll need one other tool, a “super band” to use as your training wheels so you can start where you are and do what you can.

Will these best back workout tips help get rid of back fat? I answered that question in a Flipping50TV episode:

In this post:

  • Back exercises
  • Specific muscles targeted
  • Sequence of exercises
  • Suggested frequency, sets & reps
  • How to fit them into your whole body routine

Before the Best Back Workouts for Women

Set your intention. Do you want better posture? Or are you trying to target that pesky back fat from hormone changes? Do you want to gain muscle tone all over? Do you want to boost metabolism to support weight loss?

The best recommendation I can make for women in midlife and beyond is to do a full-body strength training workout twice each week. That allows plenty of rest between workouts to fully recover and not risk continually breaking down muscle faster than you can build it up.

Back Exercises and Muscles

Sequencing Your Back Exercises

There are so many ways to sequence exercises we could fill a book. I’m going to risk assuming that you’re busy, or otherwise don’t want or have hours to spend exercising. The best way to begin is by mixing back exercises in with exercises for other body parts and moving through all of your exercises in a circuit. You’ll keep moving, get a lot done, and still allow for rest between the use of the back muscles again. The mini “rest” between sets is as important as the exercise itself.

A Workout Circuit That Includes Back Exercises:

  • Bent over row
  • Squats
  • Chest press
  • Plank
  • Bent Arm pullover
  • Rear lunges
  • Chest fly
  • Side Plank
  • Reverse fly
  • Hip Bridge
  • Triceps extension
  • Bird Dog core exercise
  • Renegade row
  • Hamstring curl with ball
  • Biceps curl
  • Core rotation

You could be completely finished after one set if you’re a beginner, or you could do two and up to four sets depending on your time.

Here’s an example of a sequence of only the best back exercises that you could use during a workout. Elsewhere in the workout, you’d also be using legs and chest, shoulders, and arms.

  • Renegade Row
  • Bent Arm Pullover  
  • Bent Over Row
  • Pull Up
  • Reverse Fly

You’ll find many of the exercise examples in this video:

If you’ve adequately reach muscular fatigue in each set you have done 5 sets of back exercise. You should be feeling good as you’ve not overdone any one exercise.

Which Is Better?

No one routine is the best. Mix it up! You can do one of each type of workout in a week. You could also do a week of circuit workouts and alternate with the back sequence workout (added to other muscle groups for full-body workout). Create a plan for yourself. Keep your muscles guessing and changing by keeping your workout “fresh.”

Workout for Mid-Back Pain


Don’t Make These Mistakes


The Rest of the Story

Do take a minimum of 48 hours before using the same muscle group again in a strength training workout. Research suggests 72 hours rest between strength training is better for men and women over 50. The results are better body composition through the ability to work harder during the sessions to truly overload muscle.

If those adorable dimples you once got so much attention for have been replaced by the kind you want to hide, you’re not alone. Here’s a four-step workout plan to reduce the appearance of cellulite


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