This post is by OYS writer Melissa. You can read all of her posts here.
You all know by now that you should be strength training, right? Remember, it helps you burn more calories all day long, which can help you get or maintain that leaner body you want. Typical strength training workouts tend to focus on sculpting arms, legs, and abs, which is great. But there is a whole other section of your body that you may be neglecting: your back. Your back helps you perform everyday movements, like carrying groceries and lifting children, so without a strong back you might struggle with these tasks. Your middle and lower back are considered part of your core, which helps give you good posture and lends strength to the rest of your body. When you have a strong core, you have better balance, more flexibility, and the strength to perform advanced strength training moves.
I have to admit, my back is my favorite body part. I know it sounds strange, but I can feel how strong it is when I do all of my other strength moves, plus the definition of toned back muscles looks great in tank tops and sundresses in the summer. So even though you don’t see this part of your body often, you definitely want to start showing it some more attention. Whether you are looking for better posture, a stronger core, toned muscles, or all three, I have some great strength training moves for you to try out.
Because back problems and injuries are so common, I encourage you to talk to your doctor before doing any strength training moves on your back. Once you have the green light, it is imperative that you perform these moves carefully and slowly with proper form. If anything feels funny, stop immediately. With any new strength training moves, you are likely to feel soreness the next day, just make sure you’re not so sore that you can’t move around. The more you do these, the less sore you will feel after.
Before you perform these moves, begin by warming up with some light cardio for at least 5 minutes. You will need a pair of light dumbbells.
Move #1 – Squat Twist and Reach
Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand raised up by your shoulders. Sit down and back into a squat. As you come out of the squat, pivot and twist to the right and reach your left arm up and over. Lower your arm as you twist back to center and squat back down. Then pivot and twist to the left as you reach your right arm up and over. Lower your arm as you twist back to center and squat down. That is one rep. I love this move because you are not only working your back, you are also working your butt and legs with the squat. Plus, since you are combining upper and lower body moves and constantly moving, your heart rate will rise, burning more calories.
Move #2 – Bent Over Flyes
Start by bending slightly forward with your knees bent with a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells together down in front of you with your elbows slightly bent. Alternate lifting your arms out to the side one at a time. It is important that you are bent forward and keep your back flat, your knees bent, and your abs pulled in. This should not hurt your back. You really want to focus on engaging those back muscles here as you lift. Keep it very controlled. You can also try lifting both arms at the same time for an added challenge.
Move #3 – Side Squeezes
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand with your arms together up in front of you, with your palms turned up. Keeping your elbows touching your sides, alternate pushing your lower arms out to the sides and towards your back. Keep your grip on the dumbbells light, and really think about squeezing your lower back muscles. Then try doing some reps with both arms together.
Move #4 – Bent Over Rows
Start by bending slightly forward with your knees bent with a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells together straight down in front of you. Alternate pulling your arms straight back one at a time. Just like with the flyes, it is important that you are bent forward and keep your back flat, your knees bent, and your abs pulled in. As you pull back, keep your arms close to your body. You can also try lifting both arms at the same time for an added challenge.
Move #5 – Superman
Start by lying on a mat or the floor on your stomach. Extend your arms out in front of you and your legs should be extended long behind you. Slowly lift your right arm in front and your left leg in back at the same time. Slowly lower. Then lift your left arm in front and your right leg in back. Slowly lower. Keep alternating. It is important that you keep your head and neck neutral. When you get comfortable enough, you can try lifting both arms and both legs together at the same time, just keep it very controlled. I love doing this move after abdominal work to help balance my core out.
Bonus Move: Cat/Cow Stretch
When you are finished, it is a good idea to stretch out those back muscles, plus this just feels so good. Get on all fours on the floor. Slowly arch your back as high as you can, letting your head drop down and pulling your abs up. Hold. Then slowly release and flatten your back as you push your head up to the ceiling. Hold. Repeat several times until you feel relaxed.
Do you take the time to work out your back?
See here for all of our exercises.
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