The back is one of the most important regions of the body, since it is made up of bones, muscles and other tissues that go from the neck to the pelvic girdle and are responsible for protecting multiple organs. In addition, the back is one of the most exposed areas of the body and the ones that suffer the most injuries, mainly due to bad postures and overexertion.
For all these reasons, it is necessary to perform exercises to strengthen the back and protect the muscles in this area. Do you know which ones they are? Here, we present a complete guide on exercises to strengthen the back. In addition, we teach you what the exact objectives of this part of the body are and what muscles make it up.
Exercises to strengthen the back
The back, as previously discussed, is located specifically at the back of the chest (chest) and extends from the base of the neck to the pelvic girdle; an area parallel to the spine. Its main function is to provide stability and support the body, thus allowing its movement and the protection of the spinal cord.
The back is made up of a series of muscles divided into:
- Superficial muscles: they are all those muscles that are remarkably far from the organs and, therefore, that are closer to the skin. This group of muscles control the movement of the arms, neck, and upper body. The muscles that belong to this body section are the latissimus dorsi, the levator scapulae, the trapezius, and the rhomboids.
- Intermediate muscles: they are those muscles located in the middle area of the body, they are attached to the spine and the rib cage and are essential for the respiratory process to be carried out and to maintain a correct posture.
- Deep muscles: These are the muscles closest to the organs and their main function is to keep the spine in a correct posture and allow its correct movement. This group of muscles is made up of the spinotransverses and the splenians.
For the aforementioned muscles, there are specific strengthening exercises that we will show you below so that you can perform them correctly.
- Exercises to strengthen the lower back
- Exercises to work the upper back
- Back exercises with weight
Exercises to strengthen the lower back
Next, you will find 4 exercises to strengthen the lower back. Remember that each of them must be executed to the letter to avoid injury:
Balasana Pose or Child Pose
- To perform this pose, you must first get down on your knees with your hands flat on the floor at shoulder height. Keep your head upright at all times to avoid injury.
- Then slowly begin to slide your back back until your glutes sit on your heels. At the end of the position, your back should be completely straight and you should feel comfortable, as it is a perfect exercise to relieve tension in the lower back.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat the movement 8 times.
- Colloquially called “The Lying Christ” this exercise consists of lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back flat on the ground and your arms extended on either side of your body.
- Next, with your knees bent, turn your legs to one side, trying to lower yourself as much as possible without taking your upper back off the ground.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and return to the starting position to turn to the opposite side. Repeat 8 times on each side, feeling your back relax with each movement.
- Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet outstretched and your forearms on the floor next to your chest.
- Next, rest your hands firmly on the mat and raise the trunk, imitating the position of the sphinx until you can keep the chest upright. Look forward to avoid neck injury.
- Hold this position for 8 seconds and repeat the exercise 8 more times.
Exercise the cat
- First, get down on your knees with your hands flat on the floor.
- To execute the exercise, you must start by arching your back down and raising your head in turn to look at the ceiling.
- Then, perform the opposite movement, that is, arch your back upwards while lowering your head and letting your neck relax. Perform the movements slowly for 5 sets until you notice relief in the back.
Exercises to strengthen the upper back
There are multiple exercises to strengthen your upper back, but if you want to bet on the most effective ones without complicating yourself too much, these are the ones you should include in your routine:
Supine or back push-ups
- As an initial step, lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor to give good support to your spine. Then, flex your arms and rest your elbows on the floor at the same height as your shoulders.
- The movement consists of pressing with the elbows down so that the back and shoulders are raised from the ground.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds and repeat the movement 8 times.
Remember that to carry out this exercise you will need a bar to support you correctly or some rings. Put yourself in a position where the body is suspended, supporting only your heels and holding onto the bar as you will see in the image below.
- To start, take a horizontal and rigid position, using a bar, parallel bars, or rings that you have at home or that you use in the gym.
- Next, push yourself to bring your chest up as far as you can and always trying to retract your shoulder blades. In addition to strengthening your upper back, you will work your arms and shoulders.
Superman with arms back
- To perform this exercise, you should start by lying on your stomach and with your arms extended on each side of the body.
- Next, lift the trunk off the ground by extending the spine; the chest should not touch the ground, but should be raised.
- To focus work on the upper back, push your arms back. This will allow you to join the scapulae when going up and keep them tense while remaining in that position.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat the exercise 4 more times.
Exercises to strengthen the back and neck
To strengthen your back and neck, you should once again consider special exercises designed to safely strengthen this part of the body. Keep in mind that the neck is a delicate area of the body, so try to follow each of these steps and stop in case of acute discomfort.
Exercises to strengthen the neck: front flexion
- Sit upright, facing forward and place your hands on your forehead.
- Next, press down on your forehead with both hands while imposing force on your head to bring it forward.
- This exercise will allow you to strengthen your neck without damaging it, so perform 10 pushes over 3 sessions.
Strengthen the neck with side flexion
- Just like you did in the previous exercise, place your hand on your temple, on the side you choose.
- Now, try to push to that side, feeling the tension that forms with the impediment of the hand.
- Try to perform this movement by tilting your head until the ear almost touches the shoulder.
- Then repeat to the other side.
- Perform this exercise 5 times per side for 5 sets.
Relieve cervicals with a head turn
- This is one of the simplest exercises out there, it has a lot of short-term benefits, so it’s worth doing both before and after some training. Basically, it involves turning the head until the chin is over the shoulder.
- Slowly return to the front and turn in the opposite direction.
- Repeat the exercise 10 times, and on each of them, make sure to make slow movements until your head can no longer turn.
Raise and lower your shoulders
- To start the exercise, raise your shoulders as high as you can, trying to get them to your ears (don’t pull them forward).
- Then, hold 5 seconds in this position and descend, forcing your shoulders down as much as possible, feeling various parts of your upper back tense.
- Do 3 more sets, each with 5 reps.
Exercises to strengthen the back with weights
The exercises to strengthen the back with weights that we present below, are intended to generate more intensity with each exercise and, consequently, increase muscle mass. However, you must be especially careful, since increasing the intensity also increases the risk of injury. Once again, perform the exercises as indicated below to avoid risks.
- First, grab a dumbbell with each hand and flex your knees and hips as if you were going to squat. If you want to add intensity to the exercise, you can perform the movement while holding a squat, as you will see in the second sample image.
- Next, raise both dumbbells straight without altering the angles of your knees and hips.
- Pause in this position for a couple of seconds and slowly lower your arms again.
- Repeat the activity ten times during 4 sets.
Something very important to keep in mind is that you should not forget to breathe, something that often happens with this type of exercise. Exhale when you lift the dumbbells and inhale when you return to the starting position.
Inclined dumbbell row
It is an exercise similar to the previous one, but this time you will have to lean forward a little once you have a dumbbell on each side. Slightly bend your knees but stay straight.
- Next, raise the dumbbells little by little.
- After a brief pause, lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
- Keep your back straight throughout the movement, as only the arms should move.
- Perform this action in 4 sets of ten repetitions.
One-hand dumbbell row
- The first step is to place one of your knees and your hand on the same side on a bench to give you support. With the other hand, take the dumbbell.
- To start the exercise, raise the dumbbell by moving only your arm back, flexing the elbow once more so that the dumbbell is at the level of your chest.
- After a brief pause, return the dumbbell to the starting position and do 2 more sets (per arm) of 10 repetitions each.
These are the safe exercises to strengthen the back.
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