Toning your body and strengthening your dorsals is not difficult, provided you have the knowledge and means to do so safely, and the motivation to see your efforts through.
It is not because things are difficult that we don't dare; it's because we don't dare that things are difficult. - Seneca the Younger
Regular physical activity can limit health risks posed by a sedentary lifestyle and forestall the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, an exercise routine is something that will delight anyone seeking to recover health and fitness; even those who wish to improve their mental health.
A person can change his future simply by changing his attitude.
That means that, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping, at minimum, good posture, you can improve your mood as well as your health.
How to do that?
One way would be by following good nutritional guidelines and by strengthening your back muscles.
Whether in a gym, fitness club or at home, working out will prove to be the foundation of an entire personal fitness program.
Anyone can begin such a regimen by working back muscles at home, with no special equipment needed.
Once you've progressed to at least good posture, you could find a personal trainer to continue working out at home, or join a small group session in a gym.
You could build your whole body: get that coveted V-torso or sexy deltoids.
No matter what your end goal, strong back muscles will help prevent injury or age-related back issues such as curvature of the spine.
In this article, Superprof fitness professionals detail their recommendations for building strong back muscles.
Which Muscle Groups to Work?
Back pain can be incapacitating, especially if the agony is ongoing.
Daily life puts constant stress on back muscles and your spinal column: walking, sitting, or carrying anything takes a toll on your back.
Back pain can bring a number of unwanted consequences: trouble sleeping, pinched or inflamed nerves, lumbar and cervical disc herniation... and the associated stress of being in constant pain.
Working your back muscles regularly will virtually eliminate all of these conditions, including unnatural curvature of the spine.
Now that you are all enthused about working your way out of back pain, here is a list of seven muscles to flex and stretch:
- lattimus dorsi – lats
- spinalis sets – muscles along vertebrae
- teres minor and major
The first two on the list are the largest back muscles, most involved with the movement of the human body.
How to work them safely?
With knees slightly flexed, bend forward at the waist until you can go no farther.
Your arms should hang freely, hands loose and dangling.
Keep this pose for a slow count of ten, pull yourself up and then repeat.
This low-impact exercise is meant to stretch the large muscles in your back. Another way to do it is the traditional toe touch.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, feet parted to shoulder width.
Ease your torso forward, reaching toward your toes. Hold for a slow count to ten; release and repeat.
This move will cause a bit of resistance, at least at first. You will feel pulling in your hamstrings as well as in your lumbar area.
Your back muscles are striated: made up of long fibres that attach to your skeleton by tendons.
These muscle groups are under what is called voluntary control, which means that keeping them in good shape has many benefits, one among them being better, deeper breathing.
Delts and trapezoids have a direct impact on your degree of mobility. Cervical, thoracic and lumbar muscles support the heavy-duty action of the longer dorsal muscles.
While you work to get the larger muscles in shape, you should also do exercises that address those smaller ones.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, strength training your lumbar muscles could go a long way toward relieving it. A personal fitness expert, either in-home or at your local health club, would prescribe specific workouts that target those areas.
Every fitness trainer knows to tailor a workout to the individual s/he trains.
To our knowledge, never has a personal trainer wrestled a client off the sofa and forced him through a professional bodybuilder's regimen, session after session.
In fact, a certified personal trainer would work to prevent further injury to your back, all while doing his utmost to help you strengthen your lumbar and cervical muscles.
Discover also how to tone your thighs!
Safety First when Working Your Back
Whether you wish to lose weight or gain muscle mass, the key to reaching your fitness goals is keeping your back strong.
A strong back is one whose muscles are each carefully and intently conditioned.
Even athletes at competition level sometimes neglect their dorsals in favor of working the muscles groups that benefit their particular sport.
Beware that focusing your workout exclusively on an area of your body that you would like to improve, such as your abdomen, could result in a lingering back injury.
Here are a few recommendations you should incorporate into your fitness training in order to strengthen and protect your back from injury:
- always keep good posture, with a strong, straight back
- bend at the knee to pick something up from the ground, especially if it is heavy
- keep a lumbar support belt handy, in case you overwork your back
- consult with a sports professional who is educated in exercise science and kinesiology
- warm up prior to exercising: raise your heart rate by jumping rope or riding a bike
- flex your joints: shoulder shrugs, elbow stretches, wrist rotations and squats will all help you feel more limber prior to your workout
- don't overdo things! Work only within your current capacities.
- breathe through your stomach – force your abs to push the air out of your lungs.
- Keep tension on your lower back, even while walking
- do some cool-down stretching after every workout session to keep your muscles supple
Home Exercise Programs to Work Your Back
Strengthening your back muscles can help you reclaim your confident self.
With a strong back, you will stand straighter, which will lead to more confidence, which will lead to a better you... which, in turn, will lead to a desire for overall fitness and toning.
Do you see any health clubs in your future?
What if you don't have time for a trip to the gym? What if you don't have a farthing to spend on fitness?
Here we offer up a few of the best exercises you can add to your personal training at home, without needing any gym equipment or a personal trainer to guide you.
The Modified Rower
Rowing machines are a type of gym equipment meant to work your back and abdominal muscles, as well as your shoulders and biceps.
They are not meant to be torture machines.
A modified rower operates on the same principle. However, the exercise in question involves pulling a tensioned cable toward your abdomen, while in a sitting position with your legs in front of you.
You can duplicate this exercise using resistance bands anchored under your sofa's leg.
Be sure to breathe deeply as you pull back in order to expand your rib cage. Release the breath, pushing it out with your abdominal muscles as you relax tension on the bands.
Fixed Bar Power Pull
Low in cost and easy to install, these bars mount in the upper part of any doorway.
You should leave just enough room between it and the upper jamb header for your fingers to wrap around it.
This simple workout tool will help you sculpt your back and work your abs.
Provided your doorway is strong enough, you could do chin-ups. If you are so conditioned as to be able to, you can increase the load on your back by crossing your ankles and curling your knees.
Athletes in training for competition generally use the traction bar to condition their entire body by holding their legs straight out at a ninety degree angle while pulling themselves up.
As with the modified row, you should exhale on release of tension, meaning: when you ease out of your pulled-up position, push your breath out using your abdominals.
You'll note, as you do these pull-ups, that different muscles of your back are straining.
That is because, the further your hands are from your core, the more the dorsals are worked. The closer your hands are, or if you are working your back with closed fist, the more your middle back muscles pull, as well as your biceps.
You should start with five pull-ups per day, working up to a couple reps of five as your strength and endurance build.
Weighted Shoulder Shrugs
Continue your in-home training program with shoulder shrugs. You can do them with or without dumbbells.
If you have a weights set, select a lighter pair of bells to start. Later, you can increase the weight.
This simple exercise consists of alternately lifting and releasing your shoulders. Your arms remain straight, elbows loose.
A variation of this move would be to row the weights back. Be sure to leave your elbows slightly bent.
If you don't have any weights, you can use goods commonly available in your home, such as bottles filled with water, or you could fill two shopping totes until you reach the desired weight load.
The Lumbar Stretch
Otherwise known as the Superman Stretch, this move consists of laying flat on the floor, on your stomach.
In one move, lift your legs, arms, head and torso off the floor and hold that pose.
This fitness move is the bane of those who've led a sedentary life prior to fitness training, and those with reduced flexibility.
Holding the Superman pose is sure to work your lumbar muscles, a group habitually found to be under-worked.
That is why it is so difficult to master and hold that stretch.
Discover how to develop your hamstrings.
Learn Exercise Physiology in the Gym
Gyms are the repository of the most up-to-date equipment for fitness education.
The benefit of working out in a gym or fitness center is that you can partake of training with a fitness professional, one-on-one or in with a small group.
If you enlist a personal fitness trainer, you are sure to gain the toned back you want, along with other muscle groups, to give you a fine figure.
Nationally, across the UK, personal trainers working in gyms are required to have at least a valid Level 2 trainer certification as well as a current First Aid Certificate.
You can rest assured that your fitness instructor has the necessary credentials to see to your physical development while preventing injury.
Here are a few exercises your coach might instruct you on during your personal training sessions.
Before engaging in any of these, s/he would conduct a physical assessment to test your endurance and ability.
This particular piece of resistance training equipment is preferred by bodybuilders and athletes for its work capability, to gain muscle mass as well as strengthening and toning back muscles.
Your personal trainer will coach you on proper form – critical to the effective usage of this fitness machine.
If your abs are not yet conditioned to this level of exercise, your coach will motivate you to tighten them and keep them flexed, in order to prevent injury to your lower back.
Your fitness instructor may show you different training techniques on this type of exercise machine, but here is basically how it works:
Seated at the machine, simply pull the resistance bar toward your chest, and then follow it back down.
While doing this exercise, your back should be straight, abs should be tensed and shoulders should be relaxed.
Rowing Machine Convergent
Anyone holding a fitness certification will tell you that sitting astride such a machine will work your traps, delts and rhomboids as well as your shoulders, biceps and forearms.
Using this machine during the course of your fitness programs involves stretching your arms while keeping your back and neck straight.
Simply grasp the handles and pull the resistant arms toward you, and then release slowly, while breathing out.
If you use this machine in a group fitness setting, your training buddies can keep you motivated, and you can advise them on form and technique.
The Neck Pulldown
You've seen them done in the movies. You've probably witnessed people at the gym doing them. Your personal trainer will most likely incorporate them into your fitness program design.
Every athlete advocates for the neck pull.
Although it sounds painful, it is truly a beneficial move that works your lats, shoulders and major/minor teres muscle groups.
How to do it: sitting on the machine's provided bench, simply reach up, grab the handles and gently pull down. The bar should reach the nape of your neck. Release slowly, keeping tension on the bar.
Before executing your first pull-down, be sure to set the weight according to your personal fitness level.
It would be too easy to damage your shoulders or otherwise injure yourself by advancing to a greater weight than you can comfortably lift.
Your group training coach may recommend a lateral pull down, similar to the neck exercise, except that the bar is pulled to your chest rather than the back of your neck.
Before assigning any exercise on any equipment, we stress: your personal trainer should conduct a fitness assessment in order to best guide your fitness career.
Thanks to your personal training program, you will soon banish muscle weakness!
Always remember: to train at home or at the gym, a bit of cardio and warm ups are essential, good form and a strong back prevent injury and, after your workout, be sure to cool down with gentle stretches.
What if the gym doesn't suit you and you cannot stay motivated, working out by yourself?
The fitness industry is booming in the UK! You will most certainly be able to find a fitness trainer online.
Our Superprof fitness experts have all undergone personal training certification. You may find your ideal trainer has been waiting here, for you!
Why Work Your Back Muscles?
Working your back today makes for a healthier you, now and for the future, and prevents injury and aches, even at senior fitness levels.
Much like reinforced steel that can support greater weight, a toned, conditioned back will support you through any exercise program and help you better withstand the stress of functional training.
Aerobics will help build cardiovascular endurance and Pilates will give your body overall toning and conditioning, but working your back will relieve the agony of any number of back and spinal injuries.
Accredited fitness programs that address the lumbars also reinforce connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons, as well as the spine.
The first step in your personal fitness training should be to stabilise and strengthen your spine, to avoid the possibility of injury as you work out.
Should you already suffer from back pain, corrective exercises would be the first order of the day, even before you get on with any other personal training business.
A corrective exercise is one that alleviates pressure on your spine.
A strong back contributes to a healthy, rewarding lifestyle.
Now is the time to attain that goal for yourself; now is the time to get fit.
Whether through home study or in a gym, your Superprof fitness specialist is waiting for you!
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