Ah, the back, why do we need to work it? Ok, besides the really obvious physical benefits – better posture and added flexibility – we need to work our backs because our back becomes a ‘must-have’ accessory for that one occasion we are rocking a backless dress. At that time, our slim and toned back is our most valuable asset – that will make men stare and your boyfriend jeolous.
In all seriousness, your back is involved in everything you do, from running to lugging groceries to picking up your baby, so strengthening it is crucial to improving fitness and preventing injury. And with better posture, you’ll feel confident and will look confident to people all the time – no matter what you’re wearing or what you’re doing.
Try the following workout, which I continue to incorporate in my workout at least twice a month – it targets your entire upper and lower back, core, hips, and glutes. Do it two or three times a week, on non-consecutive days (three sets of each exercise, working up to 12 reps or 120 seconds per set) to improve your posture, prevent aches and pains, and achieve a strong, defined rear view.
- Find a pull-up bar and assume an overhand shoulder width grip.
- Bracing through your core, lift yourself up until your chin is over the bar, trying to get as high as possible.
- Cue yourself to pull your chest to the bar to ensure full height.
- Descend all the way to full extension as this will engage more of the shoulder stabilizers and muscle mass of the back – this will help in maintaining health in the shoulder girdle.
Note: Do not swing your body up to the bar. It will change the movement pattern and should functionally be considered a different exercise. While useful in other contexts – swing and momentum are inappropriate here.
2. Dumbbell Pushup Row
- Grab a pair of weights and get in push-up plank position with your hands grasping the handles of the weights.
- Lower your body to the floor, pause, then push yourself back up.
- Once you’re back in the starting plank position, pull the weight in your right hand upward, bending at the elbow.
- Try to graze your right side when you “row” the dumbbell up, keeping your elbow straight. Pause, then lower the dumbbell back down, and repeat the same movement with your left arm. That’s one repetition. Repeat as many times as possible for 60 seconds.
- Start by lying face down and extending your arms out in front of you.
- Press your shoulder blades together and lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor.
- Hold position for 60 seconds, keeping your head up and your arms extended out in front of you.
4. Bent-Over Reverse Fly
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with the knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the hip joint.
- Exhale and lift both arms to the side, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Then, with control, lower the dumbbells back toward the ground. This completes one rep.
- Complete 12 reps.
Note: This move is great for your posture as well as your arms, so always make sure your back stays straight.
5. Basic Forearm Plank
- Lie face down on floor resting on your forearms. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
- Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to toe.
- Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air. Hold in this position for 60 seconds.
6. Single Leg Deadlift
- Stand on your right leg with your back straight, chest up and hand against your sides.
- Place your left foot back so you are balancing on the ball of your foot.
- Slightly bend your right leg, lifting your left leg straight and your right arm reaching to the ground.
- Hold, return to the starting position and repeat.
- Lie on your stomach with the legs and arms extended. Engage your abdominals so you feel your transverse abdominis contract.
- Lift your arms and legs off the floor and keep your nose in a hover above the mat. Flutter your arms and legs, moving from the hips and shoulders (not the knees and elbows). Like your swimming.
- Move in opposite arm/leg pattern. Breath in a pattern as such: inhale-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4.
- Perform movement for 60 seconds.