Examples of exercises that help tone the back muscles include shrugs, cable rows, pull-ups and dead lifts. Toning exercises have the best results with eight to 15 reps, according to Jeffrey Rice, an American Council on Education-accredited personal trainer.
Shrugs involve grabbing a barbell or a set of dumbbells and shrugging the shoulders. Visualizing the shoulders coming up to touch the ears helps form the proper motion. This works the trapezius muscle. Working the lower trapezius may be done by leaning forward slightly and shrugging back, pinching the shoulder blades together, says Rice.
Cable rows work out the back of the shoulders and lower trapezius and rhomboids. This exercise requires a cable machine and involves grabbing the handles and pulling them in toward the stomach, explains Rice. Keeping an upright posture is important for this exercise to be most effective. The handles of the cable machine may be set at different positions to work out different back muscles.
Pull-ups help define the upper back. The upper back muscles worked depend on how the bar is held and if the grip is wide or narrow. Using an assisted chin-up machine helps until enough strength is built up to do them manually. Adding weights with a weight belt is one way to create a challenge when more strength is built up, adds Rice.