Everyone is obsessed with butt and arm workouts these days, but it feels like we’re missing some main body parts here. There’s nothing worse than having back fat and love handles, so it’s important that, in addition to working other body parts, you also do back strengthening exercises that will tone your back, slim your waist, and give you amazing posture. This workout targets the back, waist, and a little bit of the abs, so you can look amazing as the layers start coming off for summer. And just feel good in general. Here’s the back workout.
1. Lying Back Extensions
This move is both a warm-up and an actual exercise. It serves as a lower back workout, which is important because your lower back is usually a sensitive area and can get injured pretty easily, so it’s best to do these before you do any sort of back workout or waist- and ab-focused exercises. Lay out a mat and then lie on your stomach with your head facing the floor and your arms out over your head in a “Y” shape. Then, slowly lift your legs and arms off the floor, keeping only the area from your stomach to your thighs on the mat (if that’s too hard, leave your legs alone and just lift your upper body). Lower back down and then lift back up for 10 reps, feeling the tension in your lower back each time.
2. Rowing Machine
The rowing erg is a cardio machine, but it’s totally different than the treadmill or StairMaster because you’re using your entire bodyweight to pull the machine toward you. It’s specifically a great back workout that also tones your abs, and you’re burning calories at the same time. Set the machine to the “meters” setting and put it on a resistance between 6 and 10, depending on if you’ve used the rowing machine before or not. Hold onto the handles and put your feet in the straps, and then row the handles toward your chest, using your legs to push off the front surface and your back to bring the handle in. Think legs, then core, then arms. Try rowing for 250 meters straight, keeping good posture and your core engaged the whole time. This should get your heart rate up pretty quickly.
3. TRX Rows
There are so many different rowing exercises you can do, but I prefer TRX rows to the machine rows or dumbbell rows because the TRX straps ensure that you’re keeping constant tension in your back muscles throughout the exercise to give you a really good back workout. If you don’t have a TRX in your gym, you can use the cables to get the same effect. The idea is to hold onto the TRX straps with each hand and walk your feet inward, creating a diagonal line with your body. Note that the farther you move in, the harder it will be. Once you find a position that is challenging enough, hang with your arms straight, and then slowly row the straps in toward your armpits, squeezing at the top. If it’s too hard, take a few steps back. Do 15 reps total.
4. Russian Twists
I know Russia’s a sensitive topic lately, but this exercise has nothing to do with the country. Or at least, I don’t think it does. The Russian twist is actually an oblique exercise, but the muscles it targets are right under your love handles, so it’s a great waist slimming move. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell, and keep it hovering over your chest, but not pressing into your body. Start by sitting down on the floor and placing your feet out in front of you, raised a few inches above the ground. Your knees should be slightly bent and your torso should be elevated off the ground, making a V-shape with your thighs. Holding the weight with both hands, move it from one side of you to the other, tapping the ground next to you each time. Aim for 20 reps.
5. Lat Pulldowns
This is the one exercise in this workout that requires a weights machine, but it’s worth it because this back exercise is amazing for developing good posture and making your waist look more narrow. The lat pulldown machine looks intimidating, but it’s really simple. This machine works the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, which basically gives your whole torso its shape. Play around with the weight to see what feels good for you, and then grip the bar with both hands and sit down, facing the machine. Pull down on the bar while squeezing your back and bring the bar to chest level, aiming for your collar bone. Squeeze your back for a second and then let go of the tension to bring the bar back up, which should feel like you’re stretching your arms. Do 10 reps.
6. Plank Cross Reaches
This move looks simple, but if you’re engaging your core and keeping your hips square the whole time, you should really feel these in your oblique, hip, and lower back regions. Start in a high plank with your feet behind you, keeping them a little wider than shoulder width. Raise your right hand and your left leg off the ground, and reach your hand to your knee by twisting with your core. Then, return to the plank and do the same on the other side. Try doing 10 reaches per side, and if you feel your hips swaying, bring your feet a little wider apart for stability.
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