Jackie Wright – Strengthen, tone back muscles
January 7, 2010
Almost every week clients request safe and effective back exercises to include in their exercise programs. Beginning this week, we feature a three-part series highlighting exercises which strengthen, improve function, tone and sculpt the upper, middle and lower back muscles. As always, consult your physician prior to beginning any exercise program.
Upper Back – Muscles Targeted – Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi and Rhomboids- Functional and effective upper back exercises include pulling and rowing actions.
Standing Row – Resistive Tubing – Choose a tubing thickness that will fatigue the upper back muscles within 8-12 repetitions.
This standing position requires you to engage the abdominal and core muscles bracing and stabilizing the body as you perform the exercise.
• Tether resistive tubing with handles around an immovable object such as a structural post in your home with equal amounts of the tubing on each side.
• Rotate your shoulders back/down and keep the shoulders away from the ears engaging the upper back muscles, rib cage lifted and the navel pulled toward the spine.
• Holding a handle in each hand, stand in a half-squat position making certain that the tubing is at shoulder height, never leaning back. Keep your weight in your heels maintaining the half-squat position throughout the exercise with your feet approximately shoulder distance apart.
• Make certain to stand far enough away from the tether point so that the tubing remains taut throughout the exercise. A good rule of thumb is to feel that if you increased the tension in the tubing any further, you would pitch forward. This is where the “bracing the body” concept comes into the picture.
• Palms should be facing the floor, with the arms at shoulder height.
• Row the arms straight back, driving the elbows backward retracting the shoulder blades (i.e. scapulae) toward one another. Think of cracking an egg between your shoulder blades and sliding the underside of your arms along the top of a shelf.
• Then, resist the return of the arms to the beginning position.
• Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three times per week. You can choose one of the following two variations of this exercise to perform in lieu of the standard row described once you have mastered the standard row first.
• First variation – Unilateral Rows – Row one arm at a time without rotating the torso as you row. Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions on each side, two to three times per week.
• Second variation – Unilateral Rows with Rotation – Row one arm at a time rotating from the waistline, as you row, in the direction of the rowing arm without rotating the hips. Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions on each side, two to three times per week.
These exercises can also be performed with a cable/pulley system, such as a multi-gym. Follow the guidelines provided above for the standard row and variations and note the specifics for a multi-gym below.
• The handle you will hold should be at shoulder height when you are in the half-squat position.
• Choose a weight increment that will fatigue the upper back within 8-12 repetitions.
Next week, we will feature an exercise for the middle back.
– Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness LLC in Grand Lake, Colorado. She can be reached at her website, http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net and her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com
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