Building lean muscle mass in any area of the body can be tough to do without using weights, which challenge muscles to fatigue and help achieve definition in physique. Fortunately, it’s possible to develop more defined and stronger back muscles by performing strength training exercises that involve weight-bearing movements or core activities. According to MayoClinic.com, such exercises are also likely to improve posture, balance and stability and make other types of physical movement easier.
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Familiarize yourself with basic core exercises. Although most people use core movements to work their abdominals and stomach muscles, all core activities enhance stability and target the lower back as well. CNN suggests choosing exercises that work many muscle groups simultaneously to quickly build muscle throughout the core area; examples include the abdominal bridge, the quadruped, the plank, crunches and their variations.
Add more intense, weight-bearing exercises to your workouts. A weight-bearing exercise involves rapid shifting of body weight and is often associated with high-impact, explosive movements or plyometrics, otherwise known as jump training. The mountain climber is one example of a high-impact, weight-bearing exercise that tightens and tones back muscles while also working legs, abdominals and shoulders.
Practice proper technique and form. If you can, always watch a physical therapist, fitness professional or personal trainer demonstrate an exercise before you attempt it yourself. You may strain your joints or muscles if you execute the exercise incorrectly, and multiple repetitions with improper technique will not work to effectively build back muscles.
Perform traditional weightlifting moves without dumbbells. Even without the extra weight and resistance, such moves can build endurance in back muscles. Try combining biceps curls with forward and backward lunges to develop stability throughout the back, squats with overhead presses to improve back posture or side squats with backward rows to target the upper back muscles.
Meet professional guidelines for workout duration and frequency. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults practice core training and strength building exercises two or three times per week, with at least eight exercises per session and eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. To lose weight in addition to building back muscle, the American Council on Exercise suggests performing at least five weekly workout sessions, each lasting 45 minutes or longer.