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Train your back muscles to relieve all of the tension caused from sitting down at a computer all day—and make your shape appear sexier in the process.
Suffering from weak and tight back muscles is a problem that many people have. Even those who exercise a lot tend to mistakenly ignore their back muscles the majority of the time. Sitting down at work all day is one of the main reasons we feel a lot of tightness in the upper and lower back area. If you have poor posture when you’re standing, you can make it worse.
It’s quite natural to focus on the muscles we can see in the mirror, while ignoring those that we can’t. This can create muscular imbalance, which you want to avoid. Having strong back muscles can help to create the illusion that you have a smaller waist size. An added bonus of working your back muscles is that they are a large muscle group, so you’ll burn quite a few calories while exercising them. Today, I’m going to share with you some simple ways you can help alleviate tightness and sculpt a tapered body.
Perform a standing hamstring stretch: Loosening your hamstring muscles can provide relief for your lower back.
How to do it: Hold on to a supportive railing or wall and place your right leg on a slightly raised surface, like a step or a curb. Keep your hips facing forward and your standing knee slightly bent. Slowly bend your left knee until you feel a very mild pulling or stretch on the back of your right thigh. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch legs.
Superman holds: Do superman holds or a modified version by lifting one arm and one leg at a time.
How to do it: Lie on the floor face down. Extend your legs and your arms as far forward and as far back as possible, while keeping a neutral spine and head and neck position. Engage your core to lift your arms and your legs off the floor. Be sure to have no arch in your lower back. You can achieve this by only lifting your arms and legs up an inch or so. This exercise engages the muscles in the whole posterior chain, including butt and hamstrings. If you have very weak muscles, lift one arm and one leg at a time. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat for 4-5 sets.
Bent-over row: This is a great exercise for strengthening your back muscles and stabilizing your core.
How to do it: Grasp a weighted bar with your hands placed wide, double shoulder-width apart. Hinge forward at your hips, keep your core braced and back flat. Raise the bar towards your sternum, then slowly lower and repeat. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together to ensure you get the correct movement. Aim to do 12-15 reps for 3 sets total.
Deadlift: This is a great exercise for your entire posterior chain, including your glutes.
How to do it: Squat to lower the bar to shin height, keeping your chest up and your back straight. Then drive your hips forwards to stand tall. Reverse the move back to the start. Try to pull your shoulders back and down to help you to maintain a flat, neutral spine. Aim to do 8-10 reps for 3-4 sets.
Machines in the gym for a strong back: Any machine that requires you to retract your shoulder blades together is great for relieving tension in the upper back, while strengthening the muscles. The seated cable row machine is my favorite. Perform 10-12 reps using a moderate weight to build strength. Perform 3-4 sets.
Resistance: A great alternative to using weights and machines is to use resistance bands. You can get creative and use the band for almost all exercises that you can do with a weight. Looping a band around a post will help you to engage the same muscles and build strength.
The next time you work out, make an effort to include a few back exercises. If you need additional tips to help you perfect your form, check out my fit tips videos.