Back exercises are not just about aesthetics, they help to prevent back pain and bad posture. The back muscles support the spine and help to align the whole upper skeletal system. They can even help to improve bone density, which makes back exercises important for women as they age. Strengthening back muscles also helps with maintaining an erect posture and makes performing daily tasks easier. Women who perform desk work and are constantly hunched over could face serious back problems in the future. The exercises below can help to prevent those issues. Here are some of the best back exercises for women:
1. Dumbbell Row
The dumbbell row targets the muscles of the upper back, particularly the latissimus dorsi (lats) but it also targets the trapezius muscles (traps) and the rhomboid muscles. The use of free weights makes this one of the better back exercises for building muscle.
Dumbbell Row Directions:
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, the woman performing the dumbbell row should bend at the waist to bring her upper body parallel to the floor. Her arms should be extended towards the floor with the palms toward each other or facing to the rear. She should bring the weights up to her torso keeping her elbows pointing up and squeezing her shoulder blades together. She should then lower the weights again slowly and repeat. Other variants of this exercise include one-armed versions where only one arm at a time is lifted. The one-armed version typically requires a bench or the floor for stability. When using a bench, she will keep one knee and hand on the bench for support while she lifts the dumbbell with the opposite arm. If dumbbell rows are performed on the floor, she should start by getting down on all fours and lifting the dumbbells from the ground toward her torso.
2. Reverse Fly
Also called T raises, the reverse fly is an upper body exercise that targets the shoulders along with the rhomboids and traps. It is one of the best back exercises for improving posture.
Reverse Fly Directions:
With a dumbbell in each hand, the woman performing the reversal fly will bend forward at the waist. As with the previous exercise, the upper body should be at approximately a 90-degree angle to the lower body. She should hold the dumbbells in front of her body with the palms facing each other than raise them laterally outwards from her torso. When a reverse fly is performed correctly, the shoulder blades are squeezed together when the arms are in the top part of the motion. Other versions of the exercise can be performed with the palms forward while the individual is in the bent-over position. The dumbbells should then be raised while keeping the palms forward.
The pull-up is a classic exercise and one of the best back exercises for strength. Specifically, it targets the latissimus dorsi, the trapezius and the thoracic erector spinae. Pull-ups are often confused with chin-ups, which focus more on the shoulder and arms than on the back. The difference between the two has to do with how the bar is gripped. Chin-ups require that the bar be gripped with the palms facing inward but the bar must be gripped with palms facing outward to perform pull-ups.
The woman exercising should stand underneath the bar and grip it overhand with both hands. Her arms should be completely extended with her feet suspended above the ground. She should pull with her arms until her chin is above the bar and make sure to keep her elbows tucked into her sides. She should slowly lower her body back down to the starting position and repeat. The most popular pullup variation utilizes resistance bands and is particularly beneficial for beginners who may have a hard time performing their first pull-up. They can use a resistance band by looping it around the pull-up bar and placing one foot in it as they pull their body up. A beginner can start with thicker bands then use thinner ones as they get stronger and need less help.
The plank exercise is often viewed as an abdominal exercise because of how much of the work is done by the rectus abdominis muscle at the front of the abdomen. The truth is that the exercise targets a range of muscles including upper back muscles like the traps and rhomboids as well as abdominal muscles that support the lower such as transverse abdominis.
The plank exercise begins with the person performing it on the floor on her hands and knees. Her arms should be straight so that her hands are directly below her shoulders. Next, she should move her feet back so that her body is fully extended. The only points of contact with the ground should be the palms and the balls of the feet. Her body should be in a straight line from head to heels. She should then hold this position for as long as possible. If she needs more stability, she can move her feet further apart. Variations on the plank posture include supporting weight on the elbows instead of on the palms.
5. Bird Dog
The bird dog is another simple exercise that targets back muscles like the erector spinae muscle and the internal and external obliques.
Bird Dog Directions:
It will be necessary to get down on all fours with the knees below the hips and the hands below the shoulders. The abdominal muscles should be used to keep the spine straight. The person performing the bird dog should raise her right arm and left leg while squeezing her shoulder blades together. She will then have to hold the posture for a few seconds before lowering her limbs back to the starting position in a slow and controlled motion. She should repeat the movement with the left arm and right leg. Variations on the bird dog exercise include using free weights and ankle weights or resistance bands. This is one of those exercises where maximum flexibility is key, which means that the right exercise wear is essential. Workout apparel like FIRM ABS workout crop tops and yoga pants will allow for the maximum range of motion.
How often should back muscles be trained?
How regularly a woman performs back exercises depends on her goals. If she mainly wants strength and to enhance posture, working out two or three times per week should be enough. She should have at least 48 hours between workouts so that her back muscles have time to recover and repair themselves.
A strong, healthy back is the foundation for a woman’s overall fitness. The exercises above can help to build the strength and function of back muscles. They require minimal equipment and can be performed at home as well as at the gym.