Why a Strong Back is Important
In this day and age, it’s virtually impossible to see someone who isn’t hunched in front of their laptop or cellphone. The quick development of technology in the past few decades has given us more reason to look down instead of straight.
We’ve become a population of slouchers.
Recently, the office worker of the future made headlines as it showed us how a desk job and bad sitting positions can negatively impact our health in just 20 or so years. Two decades may sound long, but with how things are speeding up at the moment (2020 is just round the corner), suddenly 20 years doesn’t seem too long. A hunched back causes neck stiffness and soreness, even chronic back pain.
A strong upper back not only helps improve your posture, but it also affects the way you play sports and weight train.
When it comes to working out, the upper back can sometimes be neglected. We tend to focus on arms, abs, and glutes, forgetting that a strong upper back can instantly make your physique THAT much more defined.
Best Exercises for the Upper Back
The pull-up can be daunting to do at first, but it’s one of the best exercises you can add to your workout routine when you’re looking to build your back.
Don’t be surprised when you find yourself only doing a couple of pull-ups in the beginning; lifting your body weight is pretty hard. You might need to use a pull-up machine to help support your weight. Just like all exercises, consistency is key: do it long enough and you’ll find yourself doing a pull-up without any support.
With a bar overhead, grip the bar shoulder-width apart. To fully extend your arms, let your body hang. Keep your core engaged and your shoulders back. Lift yourself so that your chin is just above the bar. Lower yourself to starting position. A set consists of ten pull-ups. Aim to do one set first.
Arm Balance Row
You’ll need dumbbells for this one. As you do your exercise from one arm to another, you are decreasing the chances of injury and also helping develop a more balanced back (who wants one side more defined than the other?)
Start with a planking position, arms straight, and a dumbbell in each hand. Your wrists should be under your shoulders and the heels, hips, and head in a straight line. Lift your right arm to your ribcage, and then twist your torso as you continue lifting the weight directly over your shoulder. The weight should not be behind you. Slowly lower your arm to starting position and repeat with the left arm.
Do equal reps on both sides. Begin with 2 sets of 10 reps each.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend your knees. Hold a set of dumbbells firmly in your hands. Lean your chest forwards and bend your torso, making sure to do so at the hips. Your chest should be parallel to the ground, you back straight, and your core engaged. Let your arms hang, and your palms facing your shins. Lift your arms to a T or goal post position. Your elbows should be bent and out. Your shoulder blades should be squeezed as you pull back. Release, going back to starting position.
Do 10 reps every set. Begin by doing 2 sets, with a minute of rest in between.
If you target to give those little muscle fibres in your back a good workout, the reverse fly is an awesome addition to your routine.
Begin by sitting on a stability ball or bench. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, hip width apart. Move forward at the waist. Holding a set of dumbbells, make sure that your hands are behind your calves and they are facing each other. Raise your arms outward with a slight bend at the elbow, your palms facing the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades. Go back to starting position and repeat.
Do 2 sets of 10 reps each.
Because this exercise has very limited movements, you can go heavy with the weights. This will help develop your upper back even more, making it more chiseled over time.
Start by holding a heavy set of dumbbells in each hand, palms facing each other. Keep your core engaged. Your back should have a natural arch to it; not too straight, and not slouching either. Now shrug your shoulders upwards towards your ears, keeping your arms straight in the process. Hold for a moment, and then release back to starting position.
Do 2 sets of 10 reps each for starters.
This is a great exercise for beginners. It targets your lats, while also working out your core and shoulders. It also lets your core get used to helping stabilise upper body movement.
Lie down flat on a bench or a stability ball. Your feet should be planted firmly on the ground. Lift a dumbbell with both hands above your chest. Make sure to keep your core engaged. Lower your arms overhead until your biceps touch your ears. Keep your arms slightly bent at the elbows. Lift your arms up again to the starting position.
Doing 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps each is a good way to incorporate this move into your workout routine.
Note: Make sure to have a personal trainer near you when attempting this exercise for the first time. There is the risk of the dumbbell slipping off your hands and landing on your chest, face, or head.
A Stronger Back
Targeting the back muscles at least twice a week will help strengthen it. If you have scoliosis or chronic back pain, doing back exercises more often will help combat the pain. When choosing how heavy to lift, keep the weights light to moderate. Due to the nature of our lifestyle, we already hold tension in our upper back and neck areas so it’s crucial to keep the weights light and easy.
Make sure to fuel your body properly before and after every workout. Consuming protein will help your muscles recover and repair itself after a session at the gym. As much as you enjoy spending time working out, avoid over training.
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