Back Workout: Exercises for Staying Strong and Healthy
Your back muscles are involved in just about everything you do. It’s very important for your back muscles to be strong so that you can do the activities that you want to do. The exercises that I have listed below are some of the best you can do. You want to make sure that you are warming up your muscles before doing your exercises. I’ll explain each exercise in detail.
Warmup: Use an arm bike for five to seven minutes.
- Barbell dead lift. Three sets of eight repetitions each. (Use a bar that you can either add weight to or that is already weighted.)
- Barbell bent-over row: Four sets of decreasing reps: 15, 12, 10 and then eight.
- Straight-arm push-downs: Four sets of 20 repetitions (Use a cable machine. The top of the cable should be taller than you.)
- Superman: Three sets for 35 seconds each.
I know that at first , starting off with a barbell dead lift seems strange for a day of back exercises, because when most people see that, they will think leg day. However, it is an excellent workout for your back. When you perform a dead lift, you must engage the muscles in your upper, middle and lower back. It’s a great compound back exercise. Stand with your mid-foot under the barbell. Bend over and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar. Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back.
Next are bent-over rows. These are a great exercise to do for your upper and mid-back. You will hold a barbell with a weight that you are comfortable with but is still challenging for you. You will stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend over at the waist. With your arms fully extended and the weight in your hand, bring the bar up toward your chest and stomach and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Make sure that you keep your back flat and tight throughout the whole exercise. The traps (the trapezius muscles) have a lot of responsibilities. They are the muscles that give us good posture. Some other duties of the traps are to allow your shoulder blades to move forward and backward, and are the muscles that make it possible for you to tilt and move your head and neck.
Next is a straight-arm pull-down. This exercise is a good way to exercise your lats (latissimus dorsi muscles). You will use a cable machine and a straight bar that attaches to the cable. Once you attach the cable, you will position the equipment at a height taller then you. With your arms straight out and hands holding the bar, bring the bar down toward your legs. It's very important that you keep your arms straight but not locked at the elbow and do not rock your body down and up to assist you in the exercise.
Last but not least: Superman! Who doesn’t want to fly like Superman? This last one won’t make you fly, but it will make your lower back strong and feel like it’s on fire. You will lie down on your stomach with your arms fully extended over your head and your legs out and toes pointed. From this position, you will raise your legs up off the ground and your upper body off the ground, leaving only your hips touching the floor. You will hold this position for 35 seconds and then relax. Most of the time, the muscles in the lower back are neglected and end up becoming weaker as time goes on. If those muscles become weak, you could experience lower back pain, or you might even start to hunch over because your abs are pulling you forward to try and balance out the weakness.
After this workout, make sure you stretch and drink plenty of water so that you can recover and get ready for your next workout.
Learn more about Ochsner Fitness Center.