No Looking Back

ballernia_back

There’s No Looking Back!
By Joy Karley, MA, CPT

Without the help of two mirrors, it’s impossible to get even a glimpse of your back.  But it is there for the world to see, especially as the temperature rises and fashion literally shrinks.  Fortunately, the muscles of your back generally respond well to regular training, so relax – we’ve got your back!

Here are the major muscles we’ll be targeting to get your back ready to for display:

Latissimus_dorsi

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) – These are the two large muscles that define and shape your torso.  They run from the upper arm down the sides of your body into your lower back.  They pull your arms down and toward your body.  These are the muscles that give swimmers their sculpted “V” shape; toning them will give you a tapered torso making your waist look smaller.

250px-Gray389Erector Spinae – These are your spinal extensors that run down your back from top to bottom.  They keep your spine lifted tall and help you do extension, or back-bending motions.  As we spend more and more time slumped forward over our computers and cell phones, our upper back extensors especially tend to get weak.

TrapeziusTrapezius  (Traps)– This trapezoid-shaped muscle runs from the neck to the shoulder blade to the spine.  It lifts, retracts (pulls back) and depresses (pulls down) the shoulder blade.  It helps shape the upper back and keep the shoulder blades stabilized and aligned correctly.

 

380px-Rhomboidei

Rhomboids – The rhomboids run between the shoulder blade & the spine & help pull the shoulder blades back & together.  They also help shape the upper back.

 

Of course, these exercises will also involve the arms, shoulders and legs, and you will need to use your abs to help stabilize your torso.  Grab your band or tube and let’s get back to work!  For each exercise, aim for up to 3 sets of 10-15 reps with good form.

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klum

“We love Heidi’s sculpted back!”

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Pull-Downs

  • Stand with feet shoulder with apart, lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Hold the ends of the band in your hands, wrap the ends loosely but firmly and bring your arms overhead, band taut, elbows soft (slightly bent).  Make sure the band is slightly in front of your body, not behind your head/shoulders.
  • Exhale as you pull the arms down and out to the side, stretching the band as you pull it down toward your sternum (where your necklace would hang).
  • Inhale and slowly raise the arms back overhead with control.
  • Keep your neck relaxed and shoulders down as the arms move, and avoid letting the head jut forward as you raise the arms up.

Do 10-15 reps with good form.
Targets:  Lats, Rhomboids, Lower Traps

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Bow & Arrow:

  • Stand with feet shoulder with apart, lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Hold the ends of the band in your hands,   wrap the ends loosely but firmly, about 6-10” apart.
  • Reach your right arm out to the side & slightly forward, keeping it straight.
  • Your left had should be near your right elbow, band taught, left palm facing you.  Exhale as you pull your left elbow back and to the side, as if you are “elbowing” somebody standing next to you.  Be sure to keep the elbow bent and avoid opening it by pulling with your hand.  Inhale as you return to the stating position slowly.
  • Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed down as the elbow pulls, and avoid letting the head jut forward.

Perform 10-15 reps, then reverse to the other side.
Targets:  Mid Traps, Rhomboids, Rear Deltoid

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diaz

“Cameron’s back has great definition!”

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Reverse Shrug:

  • Wrap the ends of the band loosely around your hands, leaving approximately 6-10” between the hands.
  • Place your left fist high on your ribcage, over your heart/sternum, palm facing in.
  • Straighten your right arm down to the side, palm facing in.
  • Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Inhale as you lift your right shoulder up toward your ear, as if you are saying “I don’t know?”
  • Exhale as you slowly pull the shoulder back down gently.  Keep your neck relaxed as you move, and adjust the placement of your left (anchor) hand as necessary for comfort.

Do 10-15 reps and reverse the exercise to the other side.
Targets:  Lower Traps

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Deadlift:

  • Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet hip width apart.
  • Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Keeping your weight centered on your feet (avoid leaning hips back over heels) hinge forward from your hips with a flat or “neutral” spine, no further than 90° or parallel to the floor.
  • Hold the band in your hands and wrap it loosely but firmly and hold your arms straight down toward the floor, band taut.
  • Exhale as you stand up straight, pulling the band with arms straight, finishing upright with arms straight down by your sides.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower back to the starting position.  The exercise is a similar movement to lifting a box out of the trunk of a car.
  • Keep abdominals pulled up and in, and your neck and shoulders relaxed down throughout the exercise.  If you are doing this correctly, you will feel like you are sticking your tail out behind you as you bend forward – but you are not shifting your weight back and the spine should not round.

Do 10-15 reps with good form.
Targets:  Erector Spinae, Mid/Lower Traps, Rhomboids, Hamstrings (back of thigh)

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Single Arm Row:

  • Stand firmly on the center of the band with your left foot, holding one end in your right hand.
  • Slide your right leg back into a lunge position, keeping both feet parallel to each other, your back leg straight/front leg bent, hips and shoulders facing square to the front.
  • Tilt your entire body forward, so your face is looking down over your front foot, chest over the thigh, and your body making a straight, diagonal line from your head to your back heel.
  • Place your left hand on your left thigh for support, and reach the right hand down toward the floor, band taut.
  • Exhale as you bend the right elbow and pull the hand up toward your right hip.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower it back down.  Keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders and neck relaxed down.

Do 10-15 reps and reverse the exercise to the other side.
Targets:   Lats, Biceps, Rhomboids. Rear Deltoid.

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hough

“We want a a classic sleek back like Julianne’s!”

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Double Arm Row:

  • Loop or tie your band securely at shoulder height around a solid, stable bar, pole, door (closed), or other immovable object.
  • Stand firmly with feet shoulder with apart, lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Cross the ends of the band, wrap them loosely around your hands and hold your arms straight out in front of your body with the band taut.
  • Exhale and pull both elbows back as if you are elbowing people standing at your sides.
  • Inhale and slowly reach arms forward to the starting position.  Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed down as you do this.

Do 10-15 reps with good form.
Targets:   Rhomboids, Mid Traps, Rear Delts, Biceps.

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Straight Arm Pull:

  • Loop or tie the band securely at shoulder height around a solid, stable bar, pole, door (closed), or other immovable object.
  • Stand firmly with feet shoulder with apart, lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.
  • Wrap the band loosely around your hands and hold your arms straight out in front of your body with the band taut.
  • Exhale and pull both arms back and down until the arms are slightly behind the body, arms straight.
  • Inhale and slowly reach arms forward to the starting position.  Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed down and abdominals tight as you do this.

Do 10-15 reps with good form.
Targets:   Lats, Rear Delts, Triceps.

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jolie

“Look how nicely defined Angelina’s back is!”

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Swimming (No Band):

  • Lie face down, with legs parallel, hip width apart, and arms shoulder width apart.
  • Pull your abdominal muscles up as if you could lift them off the floor (you can’t, but this is the action you want to support the lower back).
  • Exhale as you lift the opposite arm and leg slightly off the floor while keeping the other arm and leg on the floor for support.
  • Inhale as you place the limbs down on the floor and reverse to the other side.
  • Once you are comfortable with this, try keeping both arms and legs lifted as you alternate the “swimming” motion, breathing in for two and out for two.  Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed as you move.

Do 10-15 repetitions on each side.
Targets:  Erector Spinae, hips, legs, shoulders & arms.

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Swan (No Band):

  • Lie face down, with legs parallel, hip width apart, arms in “goal post” position, elbows bent 90° palms on the floor.
  • Pull your abdominal muscles up as if you could lift them off the floor (you can’t, but this is the action you want to support the lower back).
  • Inhale as you slowly lift your head and shoulders, trying to use your upper back muscles, not your arms.
  • Once you can’t go any higher, press gently into the arms to come all the way up.
  • Exhale and slowly lower down, trying to decrease the use of the arms as you go, finishing the movement with your back muscles.

*For the correct head/neck positioning, think of starting with a little bug on the floor in front of your face.  Lead the exercise with your eyes, watching the little bug walk forward and up the wall in front of you (but not up to the ceiling), and then watch it walk back down as you lower.  If you feel too much in your lower back, move your hands forward until you find a position where you can feel your upper back muscles working.  The less flexible your upper back is, the more the hands need to slide forward on the floor in the starting position.

Do 10-15 reps with good form.
Targets:  Erector Spinae.

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Image Credits:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2285137/Heidi-Klum-shows-incredibly-toned-launches-new-active-wear-collection-New-Balance.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1132176/Angelina-Jolie-turns-designer-dress–tattoos.html

http://www.instyle.com/instyle/package/general/photos/0,,20310636_20518280_20999926,00.html

http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2011/04/julianne-houghs-barely-there-acm-awards-gown-how-does-it-stack-up-to-her-grammy-style.html

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1 Comment on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Stefan Sanpaolo February 21, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

    You have brought up a very wonderful details, thanks for the post.

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