Last time, in Vol.1 of this article, I described several warm-up exercises for the back and several great for the lower back strength improvement. This time we’ve got some for the upper back, and stretching to end up a workout routine as it is supposed to be ended. The strength exercises described below do not require any gym equipment and may be a great start to build some nicely shaped back and shouldera��s. Stretching should be done at the end of the workout session, to release the muscle tension and avoid back pain.
Upper back strength
1. BODYWEIGHT LAT PULL-UP
A fantastic idea on how to work upper back at home. All wea��re going to need for this one is two chairs. Sit on the floor between the two chairs (the seats directed towards you). Put your elbows on the seats. By tensing your shoulders and upper back, go up so that the hips are lifted off the floor. Focus on not moving your hips a�� only the shoulders and the upper back are working in this one.
There are three progression stages in this one:
- (1) you can keep your legs bent, full feet firmly on the floor, or
- (2) keep your knees straight, only heels on the ground, and
- (3) move your feet forward so that your shoulders and your bottom are not in one line a�� this one is hard.
All the three versions are demonstrated on the video below. Hold up for a second, go back down and repeat.
2. SCAPULA PUSH-UPS
Get into the push-up starting position. Keep those elbows straight, work only with your shoulders. Squeeze the shoulder blades together (shoulders go down), and extend them back (shoulders go up). Keep your head in line with the spine, don’t lower the chin down.
3. SHOULDER Y-RAISE
A simple yet effective exercise to strengthen our upper back and improve our posture. Lie on your stomach with your arms straight out a�� so that your body forms a a�?Ya��. Without lifting your head up, raise the arms a few inches off the ground, hold for 2 seconds and goback down. Do 15-20 reps in a series.
4. ONE-ARM ONE-LEG PLANK
If you look for a challenging plank, then you should definitely try this one: great for the whole core and the back. Get into the plank position on your forearms. Lift one leg and extend the opposite arm up to the front. Try to hold this for 15 seconds in a series, then change sides.
Stretching for the back
The lower back is a really important area to stretch. By stretching the back muscles you let your spine rest and relax, and the spine takes part in EVERY exercise you perform. So to avoid back pain, you need to strengthen the muscles of your back, but also stretch the muscles after each workout.
1. LOWER BACK STRETCH KNEELING ON THE FLOOR
Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels. Take a deep breath to prepare, and while exhaling slowly lay your chest down on your thighs. Ita��s good to put your arms forward and hold in this position for at least 30 seconds breathing calmly. If you have a partner, you may ask them to gently press the area below your lower back a�� this way you will actually feel your spine relaxing.
2. LOWER BACK STRETCH LYING ON THE FLOOR
Lie on your back, arms lying on the floor in a�?Ta�? position. Lift your knees up and drop them down to the left so that they loosely lie on the floor. Arms are still in the a�?Ta�? position, theA�head is directed to the right. Stay in this position breathing calmly for at least 30 seconds. Then, repeat the stretch for another 30 on the other side.
3. UPPER BACK STRETCH KNEELING ON THE FLOOR
Here’s a great exercise borrowed from yoga for stretching your upper back muscles. Kneel and put your hands on the ground, so that your hips are directly above your knees and your shoulders are directly above your hands. The back should be flat, parallel to the ground. And now, the yoga begins: put your right arm under the left shoulder to actually lay the right shoulder on the floor. Keep this position for 15-30 seconds and switch sides. Herea��s a video for that very interesting position:
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to work out your back at home. Remember that crunches and other exercises for the abs should be balanced by exercises strengthening the back. Nonetheless, dona��t overdo this the other way round. Harmony expressed in good quantity proportions is a feature of a well-balanced, safe, and efficient workout.
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