It’s amazing how the mind sometimes works. I am a bodybuilder. And even though I don’t compete my goal is to look like I do, so symmetry is a big deal to me. Therefore I spend a lot of time working on and blogging about my lagging body parts. For me the culprits are my glutes, hamstrings, triceps and rear delts. I adopt new programs, follow body part gurus, use drop sets and elevator reps and pump up the volume overall. And things are coming along. Since the summer sort of overtook my schedule I haven’t trained as intensely or as often as I’d have liked to. But alas, this seems to be the pattern, given my current stage in life.
My point, and I promise I am getting to it, is that I realized today how much time I focus on the negative aspects of my physique and not enough of the positives. I received a few nice reminders today. Reminder #1 came from a good buddy at one of my now 2 gyms. Bill is retired and about 65ish. He is a fixture at this gym and pretty much knows everybody, including a woman that I optically stalk from time to time. There are several females my age whom I admire, with body parts I tend to crush on. This particular female has amazing legs…well defined and slim, but powerful looking. I want those legs. But I digress. Seems amazing-leg-woman was talking to Bill yesterday about me and happens to have the same infatuation going on, but she loves my back. My BACK? Hmmm, The Lobster has always commented on it, and I guess I’ve gotten some good feedback in the past about it, but never really saw it as an asset.
I was too busy sizing up my shortcomings. How refreshing to know that all my hard work is not only laying the groundwork for all the goals I’m still chasing, but it has ALREADY paid off in some areas. That is entirely cool, and I’m so grateful that is was brought my attention. So here it is, in all its glory. I should add that the small person is “grossed out” by my back and thinks it looks like an alien when I flex too much. But she also doesn’t want “balls” on her shoulders, so her opinion stands to reason.
Reminder #2 It just so happens that I received a great new article from my pal Michael Volkin on…you guessed it! The BACK. And it not only provides some excellent points about the benefits of working your back, but includes exercises you can do at HOME. So next time you’re wondering if and why you should add your back as a solid piece to your program, the details in this content will surely convince you. Build up a lovely back to burn fat and help with the V-taper, which makes your waist and hips look smaller. Add to it Michael’s video links to perfect your form in your hotel room, on your living room floor or on the back patio, and your excuses are none.
One tip on all of these, and particularly the bridge. Be sure to utilize your glutes. Glute activation is key for adding stabilization to these moves, helping to avoid back strain. The bridge is also considered a glute exercise, and you should be engaging your glutes on every exercise anyway – upper or lower. They play such a huge role in our movement system and are THE largest set of muscles in the body. Bigger muscles = bigger fat reduction.
If you are able to hit the gym, some of my personal faves for back development are: unassisted/assisted pull-ups, cable lat pulldowns, T-Bar Rows, 1 arm DB rows, straight bar cable pressdowns and Face Pulls (this move helps with shoulders and the Upper Cross Syndrome).
Come on, you know where the back machines are in your gym right? Well if you don’t, it’s the group of machines that rarely have anyone on them. That’s because people like to work muscle groups that get attention, like biceps and abs. However, those with strong backs will be the first to tell you it is one of the most important muscle groups on your body, not only for posture, but for any type of athletic movements.
Facts about your Back Muscles:
• Your back muscles are the second strongest muscle group in your body; only your legs have more power.
• A wide back creates the illusion of having a much smaller waist than you actually do. Therefore you look a lot trimmer than you really are.
• Back training burns more calories than most exercises because they are the second biggest muscle group in the body.
• For athletic movements, a strong back will enable you to throw further, climb and pull higher, or punch harder.
• The lower back is used in nearly every exercise that you do for your entire body.
So, how do you exercise your back if you don’t have access to gym equipment? Easy, just follow the below workout I designed for you. Feel free to add or take away reps if the exercises are too easy or difficult for you.
Supermans – 1 set – 8 reps – video link
Lay face down with your arms out straight in front of you. Raise your arms and legs 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 3 seconds and return to the starting position.
I Pose Pump – 1 set – 18 reps – video link
Lay face down with your arms extended by your side. Raise your arms and legs 6 inches off the ground. Pump your arms up and down.
T Pose Pump – 1 set – 25 reps – video link
Lay face down with your arms extended outward. Raise your arms and legs 6 inches off the ground. Pump your arms up and down.
Bird dog – 1 set – 8 reps – video link
On your palms and knees with your eyes facing the ground, raise one arm and the alternate leg in line with your back. Hold for 3 seconds. Every two times you raise your leg is one rep.
Bridge– 1 set – 8 reps – video link
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Put your arms at your side and lift your hips. Hold for 3 seconds and return to starting position.
There you have it, 5 back exercises you can do anywhere and anytime without any equipment. Of course, if you have a gym membership you could add many more back exercises to this workout, such as lat pull downs and pull ups. Always be sure to stretch your back after a workout to reduce soreness and stiffness.
This article was authored by Michael Volkin, inventor of Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards and the all new Weight Loss Stack 52, the most fun and unique way to lose weight.