6 Upper back exercises

In this Pilates workout exercises serie we work on the upper back mainly and partly on the back of the shoulders. We are training the upper back muscles, especially between the shoulderblades. This is often a tricky spot to target. At the same time it’s a good habit to train the upper back regularly. Usually the upper back muscles are too long and not strong enough, mainly because of “everyday posture”. We try to counter this imbalance here. For other Pilates exercises on topic, go to the Pilates exercise series section with series like 11 exercises for a weak lower back and 20 basic Pilates exercises. Also check out Pilates workouts. Have fun!

Single Exercises

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6 single upper back exercises

These 6 Pilates upper back exercises work on strengthening the upper back muscles and the back of the shoulders. Please note that training along is at own risk. It can be dangerous and hazardous for your health. Also make sure you see a physician first to make sure you’re fit enough to do these exercises. So keep it safe!


1. Inverted arms up

Upper back exercise 1

In this Pilates exercise, the inverted arms push against the upper back. Therefore we are creating a stabilizing movement backward from the upper spine. At the same time you’re training the back of the shoulders here. Lovely exercise for upper back stability, strength and posture. Make sure you look down.

2. Back shoulder lift

Upper back exercise 2

We are targeting the upper back muscles between the shouderblades with this Pilates exercise. Try to feel if you’re hitting the right spot. Pull the shoulder towards the spine. This exercise will help the back muscles stay at a right length and provide the shoulders at the front with much needed support.

3. Punching

Upper back exercise 3

It’s not about the punching in this Pilates exercise, although the fist at the end provides some extra shoulder stability. What this Pilates exercise is about, is stability from the upper back. Great way to train the upper back as a stabilizing force in everyday movement with the arms.

4. Tapping the fingers

Upper back exercise 4

This is one of the few Pilates upper back exercises here that works on the back of the neck as well. Try to push out the chest while looking forward. Great exercise for the upper back and for shoulder flexibility as well.

5. Upper back stabilization

Upper back exercise 5

You will start to feel what this Pilates exercise is about when you really hold stil the head and upper body. This exercise is all about upper back stability.

6. Pushing

Upper back exercise 6

Lovely Pilates exercise for targeting the upper back muscles between the shoulderblades. Make sure you stay down with your head, otherwise the lower back starts to take over. Also a nice exercise for some shoulder flexibility. Great exercise to do!

More Pilates exercises and workouts

That’s it for the upper back exercises on this page. You can also create your own Pilates workout by taking exercises from the Pilates exercises encyclopedia. They are grouped in ab exercises, back exercises, neck and shoulder exercises and general exercises. Amongst those exercises are the 20 basic Pilates exercises. Along with the Pilates for beginners, this is a great way to start doing Pilates. If you want to work on the lower back because of lower back pain or tension, then see the Pilates for the lower back page. You will find exercise series there like 11 Pilates exercises for a weak lower back. For Pilates exercises on topic, check out the Pilates exercise series. There are also free Pilates exercises and workouts to do for which you can sign up on those pages. Top 5 Pilates exercises for at home and 5 great Pilates workouts for at home are two examples. And of course there are a lot of great Pilates workouts to do.