Surprisingly, one of the best ways to build a strong upper back is to get good at front squats. The front squat forces you to stay upright during the whole movement. The minute you bend over, the barbell falls on the ground like a rock from a plane. What keeps you upright? Your upper back muscles – erectors, traps, rhomboids…etc.
The front squat is a weightlifting exercise that was never designed for high reps. Therefore, it’s recommended to stick to low reps – 3 to 5. Holding the front squat rack position for any longer is quite uncomfortable and can result in form deterioration. If you want to perform a high-volume front squat workout, simply increase the number of sets. 8×3 or 10×3 is a good choice.
Another benefit of the front squat is that it doesn’t require a spotter. If something goes wrong, you can just drop the bar and call it a day.
Besides the back, the front squat works primarily the quadriceps and glutes. The hamstrings are already shortened at the bottom and cannot contribute much to the lift. As a result, the quads and the glutes have to do all the work.
If you are not doing back squats, and you want to rely on the front squat as your main lower body lift, add a hamstring exercise like the deadlift to increase the workload of the leg biceps. Strong hamstrings are very important for knee stability and health.