Haltertops, backless dresses and even tank tops are all enhanced by a sexy back. But prevent “bra-strap bulge” by incorporating a back workout into your weight training regimen, while also improving your posture. Combat the forward rounding of your shoulders caused by sedentary jobs where you’re hunched over a computer all day!
Four out of five people are plagued by back pain sometime in their lives. Backs are often the most ignored areas as far as workouts are concerned because we feel like these are not muscles you can typically “see.” What you can certainly see, however, is the strength and beauty of a strong back in posture and even in the backless dress noted earlier. There’s nothing sexier on a women than a well-formed, muscular back with no bulges where there shouldn’t be any. A strong back will help you walk taller, feel more confident and improve your posture significantly.
Remember to always contract your abs when working out, which maximizes the benefit of weight training while giving you an abdominal workout without you realizing it.
As with any new exercise regimen, please check with your physician before doing any new exercises, particularly when related to your back and spine. Also remember correct form is critically important, more so with the back than with any other body part.
Pull Ups – 1×10: Let me start by saying, if you’re new to working out, then the first pull up you do, will be more in your mind than anything else. You’ll feel like your body hasn’t budged an inch! Lifting your body weight a couple of feet off the floor is something you definitely have to work your way into. This said, when you successfully complete a pull up, it’s very encouraging. You know you are developing back strength when you can successfully complete a single pull up. Imagine how you’ll feel when you do five. Ultimately your goal is to do 3 sets of 10, but for now, just 1 set of 10 will suffice.
Use a pull up bar at the gym, or its something you can install in any doorway of your home (typically it’s a tension bar). Using a wider than shoulder stance, grip the bar either with your palms facing you or away from you (whichever is easier for you to do — you’ll ultimately work your way into palms facing toward you) and bring your body up until your chin hits the bar. Slowly lower and repeat (if you can).
Lat Pull Down 3×15: This move is done on a cable or pulley machine at the gym. Sit upright, contract your abs, reach overhead and grab the bar so your palms face away from you. Bring the bar to the top of your chest in a controlled manner and then slowly return to the top. Don’t let the bar snap at the top. You can throw in an “ab” workout by sitting on a stability ball instead of a bench.
Bent Over Fly – 3×15: I particularly like this move because it helps to reduce stress and strain in your back and neck and also combats the hunched over look accompanying most desk jobs! You can also do this position while resting your chest on a stability ball.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with your knees slightly bent.
- Bend from the waist, and bring your torso parallel to the floor. Your arms will now hang in line with your shoulders, elbows in a slight arc, palms facing in. make sure your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.
- Lift your arms up and out to the sides, making sure not to “break” (bend unnaturally) your wrists until your elbows are level with your shoulders.
- Return to starting position slowly.
Bent Over Row – 3×15 – 15 reps on either side of the body:
- Kneel over the length of a bench, with your left leg bent at the knee in a more or less 90-degree position. Use the left arm to support you (as if to straddle the bench). Grasp a dumbbell with your right hand, and keep the arm close to the body but straight.
- Pull dumbbell up, until the upper arm is just beyond the horizontal or height of the back — your elbow will begin to point skyward. It’s important you don’t twist your torso in order to maximize the move for your back rather than your triceps.
- Return to starting position, switch sides and repeat.
Dumbell Shrugs – 3×15: I love this exercise, because it gives me a great stretch not only in my back and shoulders but also relieves tension in the neck.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbells in each hand.
- Raise your shoulders as high as possible.
- Lower and repeat.
Superman 2×15: This specifically targets the area of the lower back and will provide relief for tense backs.* Lie on the floor face down with your arms stretched out in front of you.
- Slowly lift the opposite leg and arm off the floor while still keeping them straight. Inhaling as you do.
- Return to the floor and exhale as you do.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- You can also start this exercise by being on hands and knees. This adds the element of balance which means it engages your core (abdomen) and helps to strengthen your mid section.
There are so many more exercises to talk about, but it would keep us here a long time. This is a good start, and, as always, feel free to email me or write comments about questions you might have.