Strengthen your back with these 4 exercises
Your back is one of the most important parts of your body that you should be training. Having a big, strong back helps men develop that body builder type physique that they are aiming for. For women, banishing bra bulge is always a top priority. A toned, shaped back really helps you look better all around. It’s awesome to have ripped arms and big shoulders but with a skinny back, you won’t get much attention. Aside from a muscular back looking nice, it’s also important for your overall body strength. I once read an article about a girl who got into a bad car accident. The doctors told her that she would probably have been paralyzed if it hadn’t been for her strong back. Having a strong back will help you look better and will help you feel better, especially as you age.
ANATOMY OF YOUR BACK
Your back, like your chest, is made up of big muscles. There are many muscles that work at your back. They are your latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, trapezius, and your rhomboids. The latissimus dorsi, better known as your “lats” are the muscles that most people tend to focus on when working out their back. These muscles are located on each side your back. The erector spinae is your lower back as well as the muscle that runs up your middle of your back over your spine. This muscle is really important to strength because it is involved in so many daily activities. Your rhomboids are found in between your shoulder blades. There are two; the major and minor. These are the muscles that help you stand up straight. Your trapezius muscle is also found on your back, up on top of your shoulders, close to the back of your neck. This muscle is better known in the fitness world as “traps.” It’s important to give each part of the back special attention in order to get the best results.
EXERCISE 1: THE PULL UP
Pull ups have always been a part of any kind of strength test you have ever done. I remember doing pull ups as a fourth grader in middle school! They really do test your true strength. Pull ups really target your lats on your back. They also target your shoulders and biceps. There are many different variations of pull ups that you can perform which will make the move more challenging or target different muscle groups. Some variations include wide grip, narrow grip, weighted, and an underhand pull up.
To Perform This Move: Position yourself under a pull up bar. Jump up and grab the bar with your hands at a neutral position. When you are ready, use your arm strength to pull yourself up until your chest is at about level with the bar. Slowly and controlled, lower yourself down to starting position. Do the desired amount of reps. Pull ups are not an easy exercise so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself only doing one. If you need to begin standing on a chair or box in order to get yourself up, that’s fine…work towards jumping up. If you are unable to do one pull up, perform some of the next exercises to build your back strength.
EXERCISE 2: SEATED ROW
To Perform This Exercise: Begin by adjusting the weight and seat to your body. Sit on the seat with your feet flat up against the board in front of you. Grab the pulley with both hands until it is comfortably in front of you. Now pull the weight straight back to perform one row. Bring the weight back to starting position making sure you don’t let the weights slam on to the rack. Make sure you keep your back straight and chest up throughout the entire movement. Do the desired number of reps.
EXERCISE 3: BACK EXTENSIONS
Also know as hyperextensions. This move targets the erector spinae as well as strengthens your hamstrings and glutes. This move can be performed simply with your own body weight or you can hold a weight flat up against your chest.
To Perform This Exercise: Lie face down on a back extension bench. Put your feet flat back against the foot pad and your hips/upper thighs should be pressed up against the pad. Make sure the bench is not positioned too high or else you won’t be able to fully extend. Cross your arms across your chest or you can position them behind your head. (If you are using the weight, this is where you would hold a weight plate on your chest with your arms crossed over the plate, securing it.) You are now ready to perform a back extension. Lower your chest by bending over the top of the bench, keeping your back pretty straight. Come up, extending your lower back. Repeat this move for the desired number of reps.
EXERCISE 4: SHOULDER SHRUGS
Yes, they are called shoulder shrugs but they work your back. Hmm…many people include their traps into their shoulder routine because it’s all in the same line, but your trapezius is really a part of your back and this move targets them for sure. It’s a pretty simple move and all you need is a pair of dumbbells.
To Perform This Exercise: Stand up straight with a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand. Shrug your shoulders so that they are almost to your ears. Hold this position for a second and release. Continue shrugging for the desired number of reps.
These are 4 really effective exercises that target different parts of the back. Make sure you focus on each part of your back in order to get the best results! Remember to warm up and cool down at the beginning and end of each workout.