Middle Back Exercises For Full Back Development

Middle back exercises should predominantly focus on working the latissimus dorsi muscles (also known as lats).

The latissimus dorsi muscles, are located on each side of the back and extend from underneath the armpit to the middle part of the back.

For a better idea on the location of the lats, see the picture below that shows the various muscle groups of the back:

middle back exercises

The middle back is not one of the more “glorious” muscles of the body, but is an important factor to be considered for core strengthening and for anyone seeking full body muscle development.

There are two middle back exercises that will effectively build and sculpt the entire range of the lats.

Middle Back Lift #1: Seated Rows

Targeted Muscles: Middle Back – Latissimus Dorsi

Auxiliary Muscles: Biceps


To properly perform seated rows, attach the lat pull down bar or seated row handles to a low pulley. Sit on the ground or low bench with legs slightly bent to help prevent lower back injuries.

Pull back on the bar with your elbows until the bar touches your mid-section while simultaneously squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return the bar to the starting position while stretching your arms as far forward as possible.

Make sure that while performing this exercise, your back remains perpendicular to the floor. Leaning slightly forward while bringing the bar back to the starting position is fine, but be sure to not lean forward at an extreme angle as this may cause a lower back injury.

Middle Back Lift#2: Lat Pull Downs

Middle Back Lift Lat Pull Downs

Targeted Muscles: Upper and Middle Back – Trapezius and Upper Latissimus Dorsi

Auxiliary Muscles: Biceps and Forearms


You will perform lat pull downs by sitting on a pulley machine with an overhead lat pull down bar. Grip the bar and pull it downward in front of you until the bar is about 2” below your chin. Raise the weight and repeat the process as necessary.

Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible when performing this exercise as leaning back will shift the emphasis of the exercise away from your lats. When doing lat pull downs, you should also focus on pulling down with your elbows to ensure that the focus remains on your upper and middle back and does not shift to your lower back or biceps.

At the top of the movement your arms should be completely extended upwards. At the bottom of the movement your elbows should be at your sides with your shoulder blades squeezing together.

Final Note

Performing these middle back exercises will sufficiently build all areas of the lats and ensure that your middle back becomes fully developed and that your core is strengthened.

Adding significant amounts of muscle mass is not possible through strength training alone. In order to quickly pack on lean muscle mass, you will need to follow a muscle building diet plan.

You can also increase your muscle gains by implementing muscle confusion techniques that will more fully exhaust your muscles and ensure that all muscles are worked from every necessary angle.

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