HAVING a well-toned back has its perks; first off, it is aesthetically pleasing, then there is the bonus of having a strong back and core, as well as good posture. Unfortunately, personal trainer and fitness instructor Gisel Harrow said that the back, despite the many benefits to be had, is still one of the most overlooked areas in strength training.
“A well-toned back looks rather sexy, especially in those tanks or halter tops. Toning your back, however, is more important because working your back can also, among other things, eliminate back pain and build strength, which you will realise even as you age will be quite beneficial,” Harrow said.
If you want to get on your way to having a well-toned back, Harrow has shared a list of exercises below that can help you to achieve this:
Scapula push ups
To execute this exercise, get down into the basic push-up position (you can do this on your knees if this is more comfortable). Make sure that your arms are directly below your shoulders, supporting your body weight, then drop your scapulas (your shoulder blades) down below the exterior of your shoulders and then lift them back up again. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
Lie down on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Then contract your upper and lower back muscles as you lift your arms and legs off the ground. Hold for three counts, then return to start, making sure to engage your abs. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Single arm rows
Hold a 12 to 15-pound dumbbell in one hand. Then stand with feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and shift your hips back, lowering torso until nearly parallel with the ground. Now place your right hand on a wall or chair in front of you for balance. Then draw the weight up toward the chest by bending your left elbow straight up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades down and together and core engaged the entire time. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
Assisted pull ups
Loop a band on top of a pull-up bar or the assisted pull up machine at your gym. Hold onto the bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder width, palms facing each other. Then place one foot (or knee) inside the band or both knees on the pad of the machine, then hang at arm's length. You should return to this position — known as a dead hang — each time you lower back down. Pull body up in one straight line, bringing your head just above the hands. Squeeze shoulder blades together and pull the upper arms down forcefully. Slowly lower your body all the way back down to dead hang. Repeat motion without swinging. Aim for eight to 10 repetitions.
Plant lateral raises
Come into a straight-arm plank with hands below and in-line with shoulders, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keeping hips as still as possible, lift one arm up to shoulder height. Return to the centre, and then lift the other arm to shoulder height. Draw your belly button up and in and keep your body centred. Do 10 repetitions on each side.