Most people would admit that it’s important to look after your back but we would bet few of those people actually do give their back the attention it deserves when hitting the gym. So many of us now spend our working week sat in front of a desk, slaves to the keyboard, and our backs pay the price for our slumped, static posture. As well as improving your posture, working out our back regularly will also lead to bigger lifts in other areas so it’s win-win!
The great thing about using a bar for this exercise is that you will be able to use heavier weights than if you were using dumbbells which will really work your back muscles. Make sure that you engage those back muscles to keep your torso solid and prevent slumping.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees soft. Holding the bar with hands shoulder width apart, lean forwards, keeping your torso tight and spine straight until your torso is almost parallel to the floor (like a table top). Keeping complete control of your posture pull the bar into your body until it reaches your chest (lower part of your ribcage). Hold there for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Repeat for 3 sets, 12 reps per set.
One arm row
Whilst very similar to the barbell row, by using each arm individually you can really target your back muscles and work on any weaknesses you may have on one side or the other. Make sure you are engaging your back muscles in this exercise and not just pulling the weight up with your arm. Also focus on keeping your shoulders square and don’t drop them when you return the weight to the starting position.
You will need a bench for this exercise. Place your right knee on the bench and lean forward with your right arm resting on the bench, keeping it straight. Your left leg should be placed on the floor in line with your bent knee. Your position should resemble a table top. Reach down with your left hand to pick up the dumbbell. Bring your arm up until your shoulders are square and parallel with the floor. Keeping your back muscles engaged and your body parallel with the floor, bend your elbow up towards the ceiling and bring the dumbbell up until it is in line with your shoulder. Hold at the top for a few seconds before returning, under control, to the starting position.
Repeat for 3 set, 12 reps per set.
Bent over row
This exercise is very similar to the barbell row but uses a dumbbell in each hand. This means that each arm is working independently so may well highlight any weaknesses in one side or the other. You can work on these weakness using the one arm row. If you are struggling to engage your back muscles or to keep your back straight when doing the rows, you could do this exercise using an inclined bench. Sit on the bench so you can lean on the bench with your chest and tummy. This will isolate your back muscles.
If you aren’t using the bench, your starting position is as with the barbell row: feet shoulder width apart, knees soft and torso bent at the hips until parallel with the floor.
From there, whether you’re using the bench or not, engage your back muscles and pull together your shoulder blades as you row in the weights until they are in line with your lower chest. Keeping the weights under control, return to the start position making sure your shoulders don’t drop at the bottom.
Repeat for 3 sets, 12 reps per set.
Not only a great exercise for blitzing those back muscles but also a good bit of cardio to boot. You will need a bit of space for this exercise but not much as it is basically a shuttle run.
Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. As heavy as you can manage. Keeping upright and the weights down by your sides, walk as fast as you can using short steps and then walk back.
This really wants to get the heart rate up so keep going as long as you can. Repeat another 3 times, again for as long as you can.
A great exercise for targeting the lower back, this exercise is done on the floor. Focus on keeping your lower body still and your shoulders relaxed.
Lay on your tummy with your hands touching your temples. As you breathe in, slowly lift your upper body from the floor as far as you can before returning to the floor. The whole exercise should be done under complete control.
Repeat for 3 sets, 10-12 reps per set.