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October 11, 2021 7 min read

If you're seeking to get more definition to your upper back and get that much desired "V look" then you have come to the right place.

The teres major and teres minor muscles are commonly neglected when it comes to workout routines as they are smaller muscles but it is crucial to strengthen them for your posture in order to prevent shoulder pain and injuries.

The teres major muscle works hand in hand with other major muscles such as the pecs and latissimus dorsi as well as works to stabilize the lats during any sort of arm swinging movements. You might also be more familiar with the teres major muscle as the rotator cuff muscle.

Benefits Of Strengthening Teres Major And Teres Minor Muscles

The muscles of the back 3d medical vector illustration

  • More Muscle Balance In The Shoulders: The teres major muscle requires more attention in comparison to other muscles in order to receive the balance and definition that it needs. 
  • Reduced Neck Pain: Many people are not capable of making the connection between neck pain and other muscles but our muscles are more intertwined than you may think. Neck pain can interrupt many day-to-day responsibilities as well as interrupt sleep which will make you less energized for your workout. By strengthening your teres major and minor muscles, you improve your posture which decreases the chances of experiencing neck pain.
  • Improved Posture: If you look around you in a busy place, you'll see many rounded shoulders and bad posture. This is due to the fact that the shoulder blade is sitting incorrectly and therefore, your rotator cuff muscles attach to your shoulder blades which leads to bad form and posture. Maintaining good posture is essential for the longevity of your bones and muscles as when your body gets used to being positioned in a certain way, it adapts to that particular placement. This can lead to pain and discomfort as you age.

Upper Back Warm-Up Benefits

Your upper body is just like any part of your body and it requires you to be prepared for a workout prior to placing loads of weights onto it. Without warming up your muscles and preparing them for a workout, you leave yourself at high risk for injury and pain. 

There is a long list of warm-up exercises that are great to get your blood flowing and prepare your body for the workout that is about to come. I recommend trying as many out as possible until you find a couple that works for you so you actually enjoy your workout while reaping all the benefits!

Examples of Warm-Up Exercises:

  • Band Pull-Aparts 
  • Cat-Cow 
  • Arm-Circles 
  • Push-Ups
  • Jumping Jacks 
  • Side Planks

There are numerous benefits that come along with incorporating a warm-up routine into your workouts such as increased blood flow, increased mental alertness, increased range of motion, and increased caloric expenditure. Overall, you get more out of your workout and you prevent injury so it is a win-win situation.

1. More Activation In Under-Utilized Muscles 

Many of us neglect our upper body muscles and take more of a focus on our lower body muscles. We also get carried away in our day-to-day responsibilities, such as work, since most of us are working office jobs that require us to be sedentary at a desk for a good bulk of the day.

This can lead to weak back muscles and interfere with our posture. When you incorporate a warm-up into your routine, you are targeting more muscles and the activation allows you to maximize your potential alongside minimizing your risk of injury.

2. Increased Blood Circulation and Oxygen To Muscle Tissues

Adequate blood and oxygen circulation is crucial in general for your body's cells but it is especially important when you are exerting energy during exercise. By warming up your body, you are allowing it to pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and remove any byproducts that can cause soreness within your muscles. The more oxygen your muscles have access to, the more work capacity it will have and it will increase your recovery in between sets.

3. Increased Range Of Motion 

Warm-ups are great for targeting muscles that have a narrow range of motion as improving your range of motion allows your joint to move through its complete spectrum of movements.

4. Decreased Risk Of Injury

Most importantly, you want to avoid injury or pain at all costs. When your muscles are not ready to perform more challenging movements or weight-bearing exercises, they are more susceptible to incorrect movements or injury.

This study evaluated the effects of warming up the upper body and how it impacted performance and injury prevention outcomes. They found that high-load dynamic warm-ups can improve power and strength performance.

10 Best Teres Major & Minor Exercises For Strength:

1. Cable Straight Arm Pulldown

  1. Find a cable machine and attach a wide grip handle above your head. 
  2. Grab ahold of the wide grip handle with both of your hands at shoulder width using an overhand grip. 
  3. Make sure you hinge forward at the hips, never the lower back, and pull down on the handle with your elbows slightly flexed. Lower your shoulder blades while focusing on extending your shoulders. 
  4. Pull down the handle until your hands reach your thighs. 
  5. Slowly return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets.

2. Inverted Row

  1. Stand in front of either a Smith machine or a squat rack and set your bar above the height of your waist. 
  2. Lie down under the bar with your legs stretched out in front of you. 
  3. Grab the bar by reaching up using an overhand grip making sure it is wider than shoulder width apart. 
  4. Pull up by leading with your chest while engaging your glutes and core throughout the entire movement. Get the bar as close to your chest as possible but it does not need to touch your chest.
  5. Pause at this step for a second and keep your shoulder blades retracted then slowly lower to your starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets.

3. Lat Pulldown With Underhand Grip

  1. Sit down on a bench facing towards a cable machine. 
  2. Grab the bar with an underhand grip using both of your hands at shoulder width apart. 
  3. Pull down the bar and bring your shoulder blades down until the bar reaches your chest.
  4. Slowly return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets.

Note: Make sure you stabilize your body and don't rock back and forth.

4. Lat Pull Downs With Overhand Grip

If you would like to change the targetted muscles, try this exercise with a neutral grip.

  1. Sit down on a bench facing towards a cable machine. 
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip using both of your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. 
  3. Pull down the bar and bring your shoulder blades down until the bar reaches your chest.
  4. Slowly return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 for your desired number of reps and sets.

Note: Just like the lat pull down with underhand grip, it is crucial that you make sure you stabilize your body. You do not want to be rocking back and forth.

5. Chin Ups

  1. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and your hands placed shoulder width apart. 
  2. Start off with your arms placed completely straight then pull yourself up to the bar as high as you can, ideally with your chest as close to the bar as possible. 
  3. Pause for a second at the top and then return back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this movement for your desired number of reps and sets.

Alternative: If you are struggling to pull your own body weight up, assisted chin-up machines are a great alternative if you want to build your upper body strength while maintaining proper form.

6. Dumbbell Row With Single Arm

  1. Find a bench that is flat and grab a dumbbell with your left hand and place your right knee and right hand under your shoulder on the bench. 
  2. Hold the dumbbell directly under your left shoulder. 
  3. Begin to bring the dumbbell upwards while bending at the elbow. It is important to make sure your arm is close to your body and bring it up until it is close to your hip. 
  4. Begin to lower to your starting position.
  5. Repeat this movement for your desired number of repetitions. 

7. High Cable Reverse Crossover Fly

  1. Stand infront of the two-pulley machine with the handles at head height. 
  2. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and begin to lower your elbows down and back as far as you possibly can so you can get your arms in line with your back. 
  3. Begin to return to starting position with control and steadiness.
  4. Repeat for your desired number of reps. 

8. Band Pull Aparts

This scapular retraction movement is great to activate numerous upper back muscles such as the trapezius, rear delts and rhomboids.

  1. Stand up with your back straight and your feet placed at shoulder width apart. 
  2. Place the resistance band in front of you at arm's length and at chest's level. 
  3. Begin to pull the band apart so you are moving your hands and arms away from your shoulders. 
  4. Make sure to keep control  and keep it at chest's height throughout the whole motion.
  5. Repeat for your desired number of reps. 

9. Seated Cable Rows

  1. Sit up straight on the bench with your feet placed on the floor. 
  2. Reach out your arms and grab ahold of the cable's handle and pull down while keeping your elbows by your side. 
  3. Slowly extend your arms to return to starting position.
  4. Repeat this motion with control for your desired number of repititions. 

A great variation is a face pull to target those deltoid and back muscles.

10. Dumbbell Pullover

  1. Place only your upper back and neck on a bench. 
  2. Hold the dumbbell of your desired weight with both of your hands so you form a triangle shape with your hands. 
  3. Hold the dumbbells above your chest with a slight bend in your elbows to prevent hyperextension. 
  4. Contract your core muscles and begin to lower the dumbbell as far over your head as you can with control. 
  5. Begin to bring the dumbbell back up to starting position.
  6. Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps.


The incorporation of exercises that strengthen both your major and minor muscles are not only important to physically make those muscles stand out more but it is also important to improve your quality of life. By tdeveloping your upper body muscles, you are also decreasing your chances of injury and discomfort and improving your posture. 

As a bonus, you are one step closer to getting that much desired V-look that will get everyone asking what you’ve been doing at the gym.

You will not regret it. If you’d like to continue feeling strong and energized, go check out the 10 best dumbbell back exercises for a  barn door back.