Strengthen Your Back With These 3 Moves

If you’re prone to throwing out your back or if you suffer from chronic back pain, it’s crucial to add a few upper and lower back exercises to your workout. Even if your back seems fine, injuries happen to people everyday whether it’s from tripping and trying to catch your balance, bending over the wrong way to pick up something, or overexerting yourself in a kickboxing class. Before I became a trainer, I didn’t realize the importance of working my back as much as working my abs—until I hurt mine. Here’s some information about why you especially need to work your back muscles and three easy moves that will strengthen them.

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Importance Of Lower And Upper Back Muscles Strengthening your lower back muscles is important for people who don’t exercise on a regular basis, but it’s equally as essential for those who do but overlook the lower back. Think about it: If you have a bad lower back, you won’t be able to do ab crunches, bicep curls, lunges, or daily living activities so you need to keep those muscles strong.

Upper back exercises are vital as well, especially if you sit at a computer or hunched over a desk all day. Hunched posture can cause painful knots and strains, chiropractor bills, and give the wrong first impression. If your exercise routine includes pushups and bench presses, remember that you need to work the opposite muscle group, the trapezius and rhomboids.
Airplane
This exercise will work both your upper and lower back. The airplane is performed by lying on your stomach with arms extended out to the sides at shoulder level.

  • Lift your head, chest, arms, knees and feet off the floor, leaving just your torso on the mat. Look at the floor and don’t crank your head up to look at the wall in front of you. By keeping your gaze on the floor, it helps keep the neck in line with the spine. Hold for 3 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.
  • Next, speed up the move to 15 faster singles, not pausing at the top.
  • Finally, hold your arms, legs and chest up to the top of the move. Keep your legs and chest lifted, and ‘flap your wings’ by moving the hands up and down for 10 repetitions. As a bonus, this exercise also tones your tush!
  • Stretch. That completes one set. When you’re done with each set, do a cat
    stretch on all fours and drop the head while rounding the back up to the
    ceiling.

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Spinal Extension Balance Reach

 

  • To perform the balance reach stay on all fours on hands and knees.
  • Look at the floor as you reach your left leg up and straight behind you while raising your right arm straight in front of you.
  • Hold the leg and arm up for a count of 3 and release.
  • Straighten and lift your right leg and left arm simultaneously, hold for 3 and release to complete one repetition. Continue to look at the floor throughout the move. Do 10 reps for one set and finish with a cat stretch.

Back Extensions On The Ball

 

  • Lay face-down on a stability ball with your belly button in the middle of it.
  • Move your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and balance on your toes.
  • Place hands behind your head and curl down over the ball.
  • Next, engage the lower back muscles and lift your torso up so that your head, shoulders, hips and heels are all in one diagonal line being careful not to arch the back.
  • Lower your back down over the ball. Repeat 15 times and do 3 sets all together mixed into your normal workout routine.

Back it Up
For more challenging back exercises like wheel pushups, stability ball, back extensions, and airplane supermans, check out my book and DVD, The Slimnastics Workout. I put back exercises in all my classes and DVDs to help others from falling prey to an injury.

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Nicole Glor is a fitness expert based in NYC, author of The Slimnastics Workout, and the star of 8 fitness DVDs. You can search for “NikkiFitness” on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the author

Nicole Glor

Nicole Glor is a fitness expert, author of The Slimnastics Workout, a freelance fitness writer, and the star of 11 fitness DVDs/Videos/Apps. Nikki's "Slimnastics" exercises have been featured in over 100 national media outlets including the New York Times, Live! With Kelly and Michael, Fox & Friends, GMA Health, Shape, Self, Fitness, and Women's Health. Her "Improve the Move" workouts focus on multitasking toning and plyomentric cardio intervals (HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training) to cut workout time in half and boost metabolism. Nikki is an AFAA certified NYC personal (and celebrity) trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan, and a 200hr RYT YogaFit/Yoga Alliance trained yoga instructor. Nikki got her start in fitness as a Syracuse University Cheerleader, where she graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the prestigious Newhouse School. Her music playlists, video demos and DVDs can be found at www.nikkifitness.com

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