Got Your Back?

Most targeted workouts are designed to improve what many people consider problem areas. Toning the upper arms, trimming inner thighs and sculpting abs seem to be the most common concerns. While these areas play a key role in your overall fitness and appearance, you might want to add sculpting and toning your back to that list.

Why back muscles matter

When you work the muscles in your back you are also working your core and even your arms, all of which can reduce your risk of injury and improve your posture. Strengthening your back muscles can also help stabilize your spine, keeping your body in proper alignment during and after your workouts.

Whether you work out at a gym or at home, it’s easy to get started with a few basic exercises that target key muscles in both your upper and lower back.

At the gym

Most gyms have plenty of equipment designed for strengthening your back muscles. If you aren’t sure which to choose or how to use it, be sure to ask for assistance to avoid injury.

Upper back

Lat pulldowns target the major muscles in your upper back. Begin the exercise from a seated position under the bar, making the weight just heavy enough for good resistance. Grip the bar overhead with both hands, which should be positioned slightly beyond the width of your shoulders. Pull the bar downward, keeping it in front of your upper body and stopping just at the top of your chest.

Lower back

Back extensions target the lower back. Begin the exercise from a seated position, adjusting the weight so that it’s not too heavy. You should be in control of your movements at all times. Make sure the back pad is aligned to the middle of your shoulder blades, and push backward as far as you can. Slowly lean forward to return back to your starting position.

At home

If you’re working out from home, there’s no shortage of ways to strengthen your back using little to no equipment.

Upper back

The bent-over reverse fly targets the upper back. Begin the exercises in a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Your knees should be slightly bent as you lean forward from your hips while keeping your back flat. Raise both arms out to the side until you feel your shoulder blades start to squeeze together. Lower your arms back to the starting position. It’s important to make sure the dumbbell is light enough that you can keep control of your motions.

Lower back

The Superman exercise works your lower back muscles. Because there’s no equipment needed, it’s a great exercise to do from home. Begin the exercise by lying face down with your legs and arms extended. Simultaneously lift both of your legs and arms off of the ground and reach toward the ceiling, bending your lower back into a reversed arch. Hold this position for a few seconds then slowly return to the start.

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