When it comes to the back of the body, many women focus on their butt rather than their torso. Like the core, the back is a stabilizer and when strengthened with appropriate exercises – and proper form – you can have an easier time standing up straight, running faster and lifting heavier weights. And if you needed additional incentive, performing back exercises can improve the appearance of that dreaded bra bulge.
Warm up at the beginning of your strength training session with five to 10 minutes of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as cycling, jumping rope or brisk walking. Perform one to two sets of pushups to activate your back muscles.
Pedal the ergometer with your hands to strengthen and tone your back. An ergometer is the upper body equivalent to the stationary bicycle. Choose a sitting or standing position; sitting makes the exercise a bit easier and may be suitable for beginners. Standing engages your core along with your back, shoulders and arms. Set the resistance level to be at an intensity of six to eight, on a scale of one to 10. Engage your abs, elongate your spine and slide the shoulder blades down your back. Aim to pedal for 15 to 30 minutes, starting slow and increasing the intensity and duration as you become stronger.
Tone your back with supermans. Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat with your legs extended behind you and the tops of your feet resting on the floor. Extend your arms over your head, palms facing in. Pull your abs in toward your lower back, engage your glutes and push your shoulder blades down and away from your ears. Lift both legs and both arms simultaneously off the floor by 2 to 3 inches. Maintain a neutral neck to avoid tilting your head up or down. Hold the lift for one to three counts and then lower to starting position. Repeat for three to five repetitions.
Take hold of a dumbbell in each hand, with an overhand grip, to perform reverse flyes. Choose a resistance level that allows you to fatigue within eight to 12 repetitions, which means that you would not be able to perform another rep with proper form. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart; slightly bend your knees. Bend at the waist and bring your torso forward by 45 degrees. Engage your core and glutes as you flatten your lower back. Bring the dumbbells to touch in front of your stomach for starting position. Raise the dumbbells up and out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the floor; you should feel the contraction in your upper back. Hold the lift for one count and then return to starting position. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.