A healthy back is important for posture and everyday functions. Standing erect, pulling, and picking up and carrying objects are made easier when the back muscles are strong and supportive. To effectively work the back, attention must be paid to both the upper-and lower-back areas. Repeat this circuit two to three times to fully challenge the back.
- Pull-up bar or assisted pull-up machine
- Cable machine or resistance band
- Stability ball
With an overhand grip (i.e., tops of the knuckles toward the ceiling), place the hands on a pull-up bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. If assistance is needed, use a pull-up assistance machine or a resistance band to help spot the movement. Starting from a dead hang (i.e., hanging from the hands with the elbows fully extended), pull the chest toward the bar and think about pulling the shoulder blades into your back pockets. Slowly return to the starting position.
Two-arm Bent-over Row
Holding a barbell in the hands with the palms facing forward, engage the abs and hinge at the hips so that the torso is almost parallel to the floor. Maintain a slight bend in the knees. Let the bar hang at arm’s length. Pull the bar to your lower ribs as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause, and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
Hold a barbell in the hands at arm’s length with the palms facing the thighs. Engage the abs, hinge at the hips and lower the bar by sliding down the thighs so that the torso is almost parallel to the floor. Maintain neutral neck and spine alignment and a slight bend in the knees. Return to the starting position.
Attach a straight bar to a cable station (or anchor a resistance band at mid-torso height) and sit with your feet braced. Grab the bar (or band handles) using an overhand, shoulder-width grip and sit upright. Pull the hands to the upper abs. Pause for a few seconds and slowly return the arms to the starting position. Maintain an upright torso throughout the movement and avoid leaning forward or backward to perform the exercise.
Back Extension Over a Stability Ball
Place your hips and upper thighs on top of a stability ball and prop your feet against a baseboard or bottom part of a wall; position feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your hands behind your head and adopt a long-line position, with the back, hips and knees straight. Keep your torso tight and your back straight as you lift your chest upward by squeezing your back muscles. Push the feet into the wall for more stability. Pause for a second and then return to the starting position. Be sure to keep your knees straight throughout the entire exercise.