Not being one of the “mirror muscles” (that is, the muscles you see in the mirror when working out) it can be easy to neglect our back in strength training. But that’s a mistake you don’t want to make! A strong back is imperative to overall health, strength, and mobility. That’s why we asked Personal Trainer and Coach Nichelle Laus to design a program that would get you (and your back) into tip-top shape!
Understanding the back:
Made of 4 different groups:
- Area 1 – upper/outer lats
- Area 2 – lower lats
- Area 3 – middle back
- Area 4 – lower back
The following exercises will create a beautiful shape and hit all the muscles in your back from all angles, without the use of machines. Stick to the workout for 4 weeks. Weeks 1 and 2 will focus on strength, and Weeks 3 and 4 will focus on mass.
WEEK 1, 2: Strength Focus
|Bent-Over Barbell Row||4*||6|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Row||4*||6|
Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
*Make the last set a drop set.
WEEK 3, 4 – Mass Focus
|Bent-Over Barbell Row||4||10|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Row||4||10|
Rest 45 to 60 seconds between sets.
Bent-Over Barbell Row (wide grip) – outer lats
- Bend your knees slightly and bend over the bar, keeping your back straight.
- Grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip.
- Pull the bar to your upper waist.
- Return until the arms are extended.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Barbell Pullover – lower lats
- Lie on a flat bench with your head near one end and your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold a barbell above your chest with your hands shoulder width apart.
- Keep your arms straight and your elbows locked and inhale as you lower the barbell in a semicircle behind your head as far as possible without causing pain.
- Exhale as you return to the starting position.
Trainer Tip: Don’t use too much weight due to the susceptibility of shoulder injury.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row – middle
- Position yourself on the left side of a flat bench with your right knee and right hand on the bench.
- Rest a dumbbell on the floor next to the left side of the bench.
- Pick up the dumbbell with your left hand, using a neutral grip, and keep your arm straight.
- Slowly pull the dumbbell up as far as possible. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back down.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions; then repeat on the other side.
Trainer Tips: Keep your elbows tucked in throughout the exercise and focus on pulling the weight up with your back muscles, not your forearms. Keep your back straight by keeping your head up and your eyes looking forward.
Back Extensions – lower back
- Lie face down and place your hands behind your head. Squeeze your back muscles to lift the chest a few inches off the floor, lifting your legs off the floor at the same time.
- Pause before returning to the starting position.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Trainer Tip: Contract your abs throughout the exercise.