A strong back is great for improving posture. Having a wider back, by strengthening your lat muscles, also gives the appearance of a smaller waist. The back consists of the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, teres minor/major, and rear deltoids. Here are some techniques and exercises to further tone your back!
Resistance bands are great to use for toning muscles, as a new way to workout (at the gym, or at home!) if you’re looking to switch up your usual routine. Not to mention they’re beyond lightweight, making them easy to store and take on the go if you’re travelling a lot or don’t have a gym available to you. Pick up a resistance band by the ends, or handles, and hold it out in front of you with your arms fully extended. Don’t lock out at your elbows! By squeezing your shoulder blades together, pull the band apart with your hands. To add more resistance, place your hands closer together on the band to pull.
Stretching is beneficial for many reasons. When the muscles in your back and neck are tight, we tend to slouch more often than we should. Make it a part of your fitness routine to stretch, even if it’s for only ten minutes. If we slouch too often to the point where it eventually becomes habit forming, our spine begins to weaken with its curve. Also, slouching may lead to muscle imbalances. Flexibility is important! With a weak back, usually, that means that the muscles in your chest and shoulders are shortened. Having a strong core will prevent you from further slouching, which will keep your muscles properly lengthened with time.
Bent over dumbbell row – This exercise also uses your core to better stabilize your body throughout the movement, and prevents your lower back from arching. Begin with feet standing at hip width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, core tight, bend forward at your hips. Don’t round your back. Pull the dumbbells straight up to your sides by gently bending at the elbow. Avoid twisting your body in any way to compensate for the amount of weight you are pulling. Focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the weight back down to starting position and repeat the movement for the desired amount of repetitions and sets.
Stability Ball Supermans
Grab a stability ball and lie across it with your feet hip width apart. Engage your core and fully extend your arms in front of you, past your head, palms facing inward. Lift your chest up and squeeze your glutes to straighten out your back. Keep your arms extended throughout the entire movement, and squeeze your back muscles as you come to the top. Slowly come back into the starting position to complete one rep.
Lie with your upper/mid back up across a bench, knees bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in one hand (or both). Lift the weight above your chest, fully extending your arms. Slowly bring the weight down overhead until your arms have matched in line with the rest of your torso. You can also do this exercise at home, without a bench, on the floor. Starting on the floor, use the same training cues as you bring your arms down until nearly touching the floor behind you. Keep your arms straight throughout the motion, but don’t completely lock out your elbows. Focus on bringing the weight back up, and controlling the weight back down, with your lat muscles. Repeat this exercise for the desired amount of reps.
Take Home Message
Some women are hesitant to train their upper body in fear of becoming “too bulky.” With the correct nutrition and training routine, that won’t happen. As women, we don’t hold nearly as much testosterone as men do for us to build a significant amount of muscle mass to where we would begin to look “bulky.” A strong back is great for posture improvement, core strength, and for making your waist appear slimmer.