How To Perform Teres Major Exercises?

By Walter Oconner | Fitness & Exercises


You must have heard of the term back fat? Well, teres major and minor are also components of back fat and they can make your back look really ugly. With the largely increased trend of teres individual exercises, people mostly ask us about the ways of performing these exercises.

These are the muscles that originates from the shoulder blades and get inside the arm bones. Teres minor is done to give rotation to the upper arm in the outwards direction. It is very similar to catching a ball in your hand. The teres major on the other hand is to bring back the arm towards the middle of the body while extending upper arm behind you.

Anatomy of Back

Before going further, let’s help you understand back’s anatomy. The muscles comprising majority of the back are referred as Traps (Trapezius) and lats (latissimus). Yes, there are various other muscles that comprise in the making of the upper section of the posterior chain. Some of these muscles are rhomboids, erector spinae, rear deltoid, levator scapulae, and others. However, today we are only discussing about teres major muscles.

Teres Major

Just above the latissimus dorsi, there are Teres major muscles situated. They help in medially rotating and adducting the humerus. Also, this muscle is attached to the humerus and scapula. Because these muscles are closely joint to the lats, they perform similar joint actions at the shoulder.

Just above the teres major is the muscle called teres minor. Being a part of rotator cuff, it helps in external rotation of the humerus and prevent the head from sliding up as the abduction is performed.

Common Exercises For The Teres Major

You need to pull horizontally to perform exercise for teres major. In this post below, I am going to discuss some of the leading exercises that professionals recommend for teres major.

#1. Bent Over Dumbbell Row


Via weighttrainingguide

For both the teres muscles, this exercise is considered to be the best one. In order to perform this, you first have to plant your feet on either side of the bench while using your hand to rest on it and keep the back straight and shoulder retracted.

Make sure that the head is kept straight throughout the movement and start pulling through the elbow until contraction.

You need to hold the lift at the top not more than for a second and slowly do the eccentric portion of the movement while allowing the dumbbell to stretch the teres major muscles while not protracting the shoulders.

#2. Sealed Uni-Lateral Row


With the help of Uni-Lateral machines, it becomes easy to balance out the volume of the exercise and target each side of the body equally. While performing this exercise, you are required to keep your shoulders aligned and pull through the elbow. However, it is important to make sure that you don’t allow the shoulders to drift back while pulling through.

What can you do to maintain the tight form? Well, you need to keep your chest up and face forward while performing the exercise. This will easily help in maintaining the required posture. Now, next is to support the posture that you can do by using your resting arm. 

#3. Sealed Cable Row


The next exercise that I would like to incorporate in my list is the Sealed Cable Row. It is different from the ones that I have mentioned above. It allows a slight further degree of extension during eccentric phase while stretching out the teres major muscle fully without letting the shoulders to reach protraction. While you can use different kind of grips to perform this exercise, the one that is recommended is a neutral grip bar. You can also use close grip for this exercise.

Make sure that the feet are planted firmly for support. Then keep the back straight and chest up while you take hold of the weight. Start by entering the starting position in which you are suppose to sit upright. Make sure the chest is up while you pull through the elbows and bring the bar as far back as possible.

You need to go slow while performing the eccentric part. Then, allow the back to lean forwards but do not bend it. Make sure its still straight. Immediately before the shoulders start to protract, start to pull back using the elbows and lean back slowly in the contraction.

Some Important Training Notes

These exercises shouldn’t be done if you don’t have a professional to help and assist you in understanding the right method. In this section below, I would like to highlight some of the key training notes:

In Case If The Teres Major Is Overactive

  • Make sure that you don’t spend a lot of time training the teres major and on lat exercises
  • In case if the overhead range of motion is partial then make sure you don’t do the vertical push exercises such as overhead press. Instead, make sure to do high-incline push exercises in which the shoulder presses on 60-75 degrees incline. This is a perfect way to train the front delts using heavy weights. Only the injury can be avoided since you are staying within the safer range of motion.
  • Do the teres major releases or stretches routinely, particularly as a part of a full mobility routine. You can also use these techniques as a part of warm-up for workout comprising of upper & lower body lifts that work on back or need shoulder mobility. Deadlift, squats, etc are the wonderful examples of these exercises.
  • While performing these exercises, your posture makes a lot of difference. You should have good postural awareness. Also, make sure that you don’t slouch over or internally rotate the shoulders. For the people that has sitting jobs and stays in single posture for long hours, make sure to get up and stretch the body a little to change the posture. You must take break after every 30 minutes. Just make sure to stretch out the teres muscles and other body muscles if you have time.

About the Author

Hi everyone, I am Walter, Main Editor of and a Fitness Trainer with over 4 years of experience. I’ve also been promoting clean eating, a healthy lifestyle, and Organic products.