Boost Your Back Strength With These 6 Simple Moves
When it comes to strengthening the various muscle groups in the body, women often focus heavily on their legs and core and neglect a major piece of the anatomical puzzle: the back. Your back muscles perform countless functions, like making proper posture actually comfortable and protecting that oh-so-valuable spinal cord. From your shoulder blades to your tailbone, your back muscles require some TLC during your workout routines so they can take good care of you.
For the ladies out there who want a sexy back as much as they want a strong back, we compiled six of the best back exercises for women that you can do from the comfort of your apartment. (Yasss, no sweaty, crowded, expensive gym!) All you need is a mat for comfort and a set of dumbbells — your choice of weight — to move through this back workout. Complete each rep carefully and with control to reap the biggest benefits from the moves. This isn’t a race — it’s all about strengthening and toning in a sustainable way. Alright, let’s get to it!
1. Superman Lift
Start by lying down on your stomach with your arms outstretched over your head on your mat and your legs straight with the tops of your feet pressing into the floor. As you exhale, lift your arms, upper body and legs into the air by contracting your erector spinae muscles in your middle back and upper back. Hold the lift isometrically as high as you can for three seconds, and then inhale as you slowly lower, with control, back down to the floor. Repeat this Superman lift 15 times.
2. Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
Grab your set of dumbbells. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at your hips so that your back, remaining strong and straight, moves close to parallel with the floor. (Use those abs to maintain the proper starting posture.) Let your arms hang down in front of your body with your palms facing each other. As you exhale, draw your shoulder blades down and together as you bring the dumbbells up to your armpits and reach your elbows toward the ceiling. As you inhale, lower the dumbbells back down with control. That’s one rep. Repeat 10-15 times.
3. Dumbbell Lat Pulldown
This move gives you the benefits of the classic weight machine exercise without making you lug your butt to the gym. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended overhead, holding a dumbbell in each hand. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and back as you bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells down to the outsides of your shoulders. Keep your chest broad and your core engaged as you really focus on that muscle contraction in your back. Then, as you inhale, press the dumbbells back up overhead. That’s one rep. Repeat 10-15 times.
4. Reverse Fly
This move is all about working your rhomboid muscles in your upper back and shoulder region. Grab your set of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at your hips so that your back, remaining strong and straight, moves close to parallel with the floor. (Use your abs to maintain the proper starting posture.) Let your arms hang down in front of your body with your palms facing each other, but add a slight bend to your elbows so the dumbbells move closer together in front of your torso. As you exhale, lift and reach your arms out laterally, aiming to level the dumbbells with the tops of your shoulders as you contract your back muscles. As you inhale, slowly lower your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat 10-15 times.
5. Dumbbell Lateral Arm Raise
Let’s work on that healthy posture, shall we? Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and core muscles engaged, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your grips facing the sides of your legs. As you exhale, lift and reach your arms straight out to the sides, aiming to level the dumbbells with the tops of your shoulders. (It’s okay to keep a small bend in your elbows to protect your joints.) As you inhale, lower the dumbbells back down to your sides with control. That’s one rep. See if you can complete 10-15 reps, slow and steady, without using any swinging momentum from your arms.
6. Renegade Row
Last but not least, let’s challenge the front and back of your core at the same time with a great exercise called the renegade row. Grab your dumbbells and move into a high plank position with your hands resting on the dumbbell grips on the floor, your core engaged, your hips level with your shoulders and your heels reaching toward the back of the room. Keeping your core tight and parallel to the floor, bend your right elbow and as you bring the dumbbell up to your armpit and reach your elbow toward the ceiling. Carefully lower it back down to the floor. Repeat the same row movement on the left side. That makes one rep. Crank out 10 of these bad boys, and you’re officially set with your back strength training for the day.
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