3 Moves to a Stronger Back
By SJ McShane
Strong back muscles are not only key for an overall fit look, they're the best defense against pain, injury and poor posture for years to come. The fact that we can’t see our back in the mirror doesn’t mean we should neglect consistently training it. Aesthetics aside, there are many benefits to working your back muscles on a regular basis, with injury prevention at the top of the list. A strong back is the foundation of a functional and supportive core that is needed for accomplishing many daily tasks such as: bending over, lifting, and carrying weighted objects.
For the person who is looking to lift heavier, a strong lumbar spine is essential if you want to squat or stabilize your body weight when lifting. When back muscles are undertrained or suffer from atrophy due to lack of exercise, this puts our muscles, ligaments and spine in danger of a serious injury. The lumbar region (lower back) of your spine which supports the majority of your body is unfortunately the easiest body part to injure. Approximately 80 percent of people will suffer from a back injury sometime in their life, with the majority hurting their lower back. The good news is, there are exercises that will help strengthen your whole back and core helping you develop the strength needed to prevent injuries and give the definition to show off your fit back! Here are 3 exercises you need to add to your workouts in order to get your strong back. Let’s Train!
1. Good mornings
How to perform: The movement resembles bowing to greet someone. The bar is placed across the shoulders as if about to begin a squat. Then, one bends at the hips, keeping lower back arched, and lowers the upper body till roughly parallel to the floor, or until one is no longer able to maintain the proper lower back arch.
TIP: The good morning exercise could place excess stress on the lower spine and cause significant injury if done incorrectly. Start with a very low weight and be sure that the back stays straight and maintains its natural curve throughout the exercise. For an alternative to the exercise, use the GHD Machine (Glute Ham Developer)
Benefits: When done properly the good morning is a great move that can help strengthen the entire posterior chain (i.e. the back of the body) by building up the spinal erectors, lower back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
2. The Plank
How to perform: Get into pushup position on the floor- Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
Benefits: This move not only strengthens your back, the plank helps develop strength in the core, shoulders, arms, and glutes making it a great prerequisite for lifting heavy weights or playing intense sports and even accomplishing daily tasks. This move also helps strengthen the erectors (muscle that line the spine) to correct bad posture.
3. Lat Pull-down
How to Perform: Start off by positioning your body correctly on the Lat bench, with feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees, in line with your hips. Your legs should just touch the padded bar above them so that when you lean slightly back, your quads hit it for support. Once the bench is positioned, stand up and grab hold of the bar where it bends and sit back down. Lean a little bit back from your hips, bring the shoulder blades back and down and pull right to your chest and in a little- then send the bar right back up not allowing the weight to slam. That slight lean means your core muscles will also be working, taking the pressure off of the lower back.
Benefits: This move Works the entire back with emphasis on the latissimus dorsi, the largest of the back muscles. Lat Pull downs also hit the posterior shoulder and biceps which are important to strengthening as well. This move can also help build up strength for those trying to work on their pull ups.
In between each exercise perform a 30 second plank then rest 1 min- 10 to 12 reps per exercise. Choose a light enough weight where you have perfect form but a heavy enough weight where the last two reps are somewhat of a challenge. Bonus exercise (standing back rows) Make sure your back muscles are thoroughly warmed up with at least 10 minutes of steady cardio and active stretches.
Lat Pull-down into 30 second plank then rest 30 sec. Repeat x3
Good morning’s into a 30 second plank then rest 30 sec. Repeat x3
Standing Back rows into 30 second plank then rest 30 sec. Repeat x3