The mechanics of working out your back

(Photo by Madeline Turiff)
(Photo by Madeline Turiff)

Want to get a ripped back for next spring? It is best to start now and find workouts that will tone your back for the better.

Whether you are a hard core gym rat, a workout at home type, or balancing your time in and out of the gym, the back is one muscle region that should not be ignored.  Whenever you are working out, it’s important to incorporate layers to your routine to help safeguard yourself against injury and pain.

Joe Carney, who is a personal trainer at World Gym Kitchener, shared some common myths about guys and girls working out their backs, as well as some valuable insight on the formulaic approach to working out your back and protecting it from injury.

Cardio, any kind of cardio, is essential to getting the blood in your veins pumping, and warming up your muscles before doing any kind of strenuous exercise. For your back, you should stretch both upper and lower muscles in an alternating fashion, as for any day of training. Stretching before, after, or both is going to help prevent injuries and project your joints and muscles.

“The biggest thing with pretty much any back exercise, is to keep strict form,” Carney shared. “Seated row for example. You’re sitting down grabbing a close grip paralleled attachment around mid stomach height.”

Carney also shared that the most common and frequently ill-performed part of seated row, is when one needs to be sitting straight with a rigid back, and use only your arms to pull back. “Your shoulders will naturally fall forward before pulling, so the first movement is to start rolling them back and driving your elbows straight back as close to your body as comfortable and as far back as your mobility allows.”

If there is any fear that women who do back workouts will become buff like men, put that aside now. Carney explained that this is not the case.

“Nothing really changes based on gender,” Carney shared.  “Girls always assume if they workout they’re going to turn into the hulk and bulk up, but due to their lack of testosterone compared to men, they only really tone and become strong, not big.”

If you are not ready for an intense workout or you need a break, there are some stretches for your upper and lower back.

Start by laying down flat, then bring one knee to your chest and hold for ten seconds while lifting your head up, alternating for four to eight reps. In a chair, lean forward putting your arms through your legs and reaching back until you feel the stretch. Return to lying on your back, bring both knees to your chest, and lift that head again, repeat as necessary.  Next sit up on your knees, stretch and slide your arms forward and down on the ground, keeping your butt as low to the ground as you can. Repeat two to five times.

Standing, with your hands at your sides, lift your arms wide and over your head, reaching to the ceiling and feeling a pulling sensation across the top of your chest and then back down. Repeat five to eight times.

Bring one arm across, holding with the other. Make sure to keep it straight, and hold for twenty seconds, then pull the arm up behind the head and grab the elbow holding that as well for twenty seconds. You will want to alternate only once for each arm.

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