Cardio, abs, arms, lunges, squats, pushups… that’s the norm for most college girls. You may think you’re getting all the important muscle groups in your body, but you’re forgetting the most important one: your back!
OK, so it’s not like your back is flabby like your thighs and you don’t crave the definition like you do in your abs, but you can’t neglect your back muscles; they help you maintain good posture, give you a smaller waistline, and enable you to carry a 30-pound backpack to class (thank you, Ancient Psych professor). They’ll also help you move boxes into your new apartment and, of course, with the bend-and-snap. So let’s focus on bringing sexy backs back (you had to know the J.T. reference was coming)!
Before starting any hardcore back exercises, be careful! Because our back muscles tend to be weaker, they are really easy to injure. (It’s a strange cycle, I know.) Remember to warm up beforehand with cardio, some good back stretches, and light back weights if you can. Also, do the exercises slowly to make sure you’ve got the correct form and technique down. Try them out in front of a mirror before making your confident back debut at the gym!
Here are some easy exercises to tone the OTHER side of your waistline:
You can do this exercise anywhere, any time. No need to hit up the gym to strengthen that back!
1. Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
2. Lift your hips and squeeze your butt, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for two seconds, and then lower slowly.
Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
This is another great exercise that you can do at home.
1. Lay on your stomach with your legs together and your hands behind your head.
2. Lift your chest off the ground slowly, then slowly lower down without resting.
* To increase difficulty (which I recommend), lift your legs (straight out) at the same time as you lift your chest.
Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-16 reps.
Back Extensions in the Gym
This exercise requires either the back weight bench [available at all gyms] or an exercise ball. I’ll explain it on the bench; modify as needed.
1. Stand in the middle of the bench, facing the larger pad.
2. Use the handles to help you lean forward and adjust so that your hips are across the large pad and the backs of your ankles are under the smaller pads.
3. Cross your arms over your chest or put your hands behind your neck.
4. Bend forward at the waist as far as you can then slowly bring yourself up until your back is parallel to the floor, only using your back muscles. Do not to arch your back!
Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
All you need are some dumbbells to do a dead lift. Start with lighter weights (7-10 pounds total) and work your way up.
1. Stand up your with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.
2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward.
3. Bending at the hip, slowly lower your torso. Stop when the dumbbells reach your shins.
4. Slowly return to the starting position, keeping back straight and abs tight.
Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Pullover on Stability Ball
You’ll need a stability ball and dumbbells or a medicine ball for this one!
1. Lie on the stability ball with back, neck, and head fully supported.
2. Hold the dumbbells/medicine ball over your chest, arms straight up, palms facing inward.
3. Keeping the elbows slightly bent and abs tight, slowly lower your arms towards the floor until they are parallel to your shoulders.
4. With control, slowly lift arms back up to the starting position.
Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps.