Emily Skye performs a bent over row using a heavy dumbbell on a gym bench.
Emily Skye

I'm bringing sexy back! My top exercises for a strong back

Emily Skye

Often what you can’t see gets neglected – for example, your back. But a sculpted back is just as important as a pair of strong legs or a peachy booty. If you’ve never thought about working your back, trust me when I say you’re going to love the results when you next slip into a backless dress! 

But there’s more to the back than just the aesthetics. Our back (along with our abs) is responsible for posture and performing daily tasks without discomfort or injury. If we look at the back as two parts, the lower back helps us lift, carry, bend and support our upright posture, while the upper back provides a base for the shoulder girdle and supports our head and neck. 

Ready to put your back into it? Complete three rounds of my strong back workout and love your rear-view from head to toe.  

1. Lat pull-down x 12 reps


Latissimus dorsi (middle back, AKA lats) and biceps.

How to: Set the machine to your preferred setting. Reach up and grab the lat pull-down bar with an overhand grip so your forearms create a right angle. Now pull the bar down towards your chest. Then return the bar upwards under complete control to finish the rep.

2. Barbell bent-over row (underhand) x 12 reps

Targets: Lats, biceps, forearms, abs and glutes. 

How to: Grab a barbell with both hands. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now bend at your hips, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent. Start with the weight at a full hang, then pull the bar back towards your stomach keeping your elbows in.

3. Dumbbell kneeling row x 12 each side

Targets: Lats, rhomboids (between the shoulder blades), trapezius (traps) and biceps. 

How to: Stand in front of a bench. Then place your right knee on the bench, bend your torso forward from your waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support. Pick up the dumbbell off the floor with your left hand and ensure the palm of your hand is facing your torso. Pull the weight up to the side of your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Now lower the weight down to the starting position and repeat. Once you have completed the assigned reps, switch sides.

4. Dumbbell lat pullover x 12 reps


Pectoralis major and minor (chest), lats, triceps and abs. 

How to: Place your shoulders on a bench with your body at a right angle. Start with a dumbbell over your head and lower it behind your head while keeping your arms straight. Lift the dumbbell back over your head to complete the rep. Make sure you keep your core tight throughout the movement. 

5. Incline push up x 10 reps

Targets: Lats, chest and shoulders. 

How to: Place your hands on the edge of the bench just slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your arms should be straight but make sure your elbows are not locked. Now align your feet so that your arms and body are completely straight. Then bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest to the edge of the bench while inhaling. Now push your body away from the bench until your elbows are extended (but not locked) and exhale. 

Emily Skye
Personal trainer • Founder

Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.

Emily Skye
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