Strengthening your back with resistance bands makes for a convenient, portable workout you can do virtually anywhere. As your strength improves, you can easily increase the difficulty of your exercises by using a band with heavier resistance to target the muscles along your entire spine.
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The best back exercises keep your spine in a neutral position. That's the major problem with the beloved superman exercise: It requires you to bend your spine backwards, compressing ligaments and exerting unwanted force on small joints in your back, according to the National Spine Health Foundation.
Repeatedly overextending your spine like you do with frequent supermans can put your back at risk of injury, much like bending a paper clip. "It will bend back and forth several times before it breaks, but it will break," according to the National Spine Health Foundation.
The following resistance-band back exercises keep your spine in a safer neutral position — and still deliver plenty of burn.
Move 1: Seated Row
The seated row exercise strengthens muscles in the middle of your back, near your shoulder blades. Be sure the band is secured around your feet before you pull on it.
- Sit on a firm surface with your legs out in front of you. If you have discomfort in the back of your thighs, bend your knees slightly.
- Loop the middle of the band around the bottom of both feet, at the arches. Hold one end of the band in each hand and sit up straight.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows straight back as far as possible against the resistance of the band. Hold this position for two to three seconds; then relax.
- Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 sets in a row.
Move 2: Upright Row
The upright row exercise strengthens muscles in your upper back. As an added bonus, it also strengthens shoulder muscles.
- Stand securely on the middle of the band with both feet. Spread your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Hold one end of the band in each hand.
- Begin with your arms resting at your sides and palms facing you. Rotate your thumbs slightly forward.
- Raise your elbows out to the sides and straight up toward the ceiling. Stop when your elbows reach shoulder height.
- Hold for two to three seconds; then slowly lower your arms back down. Repeat 10 times, working up to 3 sets in a row.
Move 3: Pull-Apart
Pull-aparts are named for the motion performed during the exercise. This exercise targets muscles in your mid-back.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold one end of the band in each hand with your palms facing inward. Keep your elbows straight throughout this exercise.
- Begin with your arms straight in front of you at shoulder-height. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the ends of the band apart until your arms are straight out at your sides. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up during this exercise.
- Hold for two to three seconds; then relax. Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 sets in a row.
Move 4: Lat Pull-Down
Lat pull-downs strengthen the large muscles along each side of the back. This popular gym exercise can be performed with a resistance band.
- Anchor the middle of the band overhead, securing it to a sturdy object such as a door frame.
- Reach overhead and grasp one end of the band in each hand. Spread your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze the muscles on the sides of your back and pull the band toward your chest. Your elbows will bend with this movement. Stop when your hands reach your shoulders.
- Hold for two to three seconds; then relax. Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 sets.
Move 5: Deadlift
Deadlifts are a popular weight-lifting exercise for strengthening the low back and legs. Although this exercise is typically performed with a barbell, it can also be performed with a resistance band.
- Stand securely on the middle of the band. Spread your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Hold one end of the band in each hand.
- With your arms by your side and palms facing you, hinge forward at your hips, keeping your knees straight. Do not allow your low back to round forward. This is the starting position.
- Lift your chest and squeeze your hips forward as you come into an upright position. Hold this for two to three seconds; then return to the hip-hinged position. Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 sets in a row.