Your back is one of the most important parts of your body. It is probably the part that we ignore and neglected the most as well. Our back bears the weight of the entire body and unlike the hands and the feet; there are no direct exercises to workout the back muscles. If you have ever noticed, when you get stressed out the place that you usually feel it the most is in your back. A lean, well-shaped back is a cynosure of many eyes and also helps in achieving the optimum fitness level. These are the six top exercises for strengthening and defining your upper and lower back.
1. Straight-arm lat pull downs - This exercise works on the lats, which is a group of muscles of the upper back. Stand in front of a lat pull down machine and hold the bar in an overhand clasp. Keeping your hands shoulder width apart and your body completely stable, you use the shoulder movement to pull the bar towards you. Hold it for a few seconds and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions of the exercises. Remember to give your body a 30 seconds rest between each set.
2. Lat Pull Downs - The lat pull downs are great for working out the upper back muscles like the latissimus dorsi and the posterior deltoid. Sit straight on the bench facing the tower and hold the bar with a broad, overhand grip. Keeping your back straight, pull the lat to your chest. Touch the lat to your chest and hold it for two seconds while pinching your shoulder blades together. Maintaining the tension, move the bar back to the original position. Do two sets of six to twelve reps.
3. Dead Lifts - Stand with your feet should width apart and a barbell over your feet. Hold the bar and roll it up to your shins. Come down in a squat position with your arms straight and back flat. Take care that your shoulders are behind the bar. Exhale and stand up while you pull the bar up. Remember to keep it as close to your shins as possible. Lower it while keeping it close to your legs. Rest for 30 second and repeat. Do 10 to 15 reps of this exercise. You can do two sets of this exercise and increase the reps, as you get stronger.
TIP: Dead lifts are useful in understanding the right way of picking up the objects from the ground without hurting our back. Often people get a backache from picking up things with the wrong posture. Hence the stance of dead lift can be incorporated in our daily lives.
4. Seated Cable row - Sit on the lateral row machine and hold the handles in an overhand grip. Remember to keep your arms straight, but do not lock them. Then slowly pull the handles towards you, till your hands nearly touch your torso. Keep your back straight and contract your abs. Your hands should be low and the elbows should be facing the ground. Exhale and return slowly to the starting position. Perform 15-20 reps and do two sets of the exercise
5. Back Extension dumbbell raise - Keeping your back straight bend at a 90-degree angle from the waist and pick up dumbbells. Now come up and straighten your body completely and spread the dumbbells to your side. Exhale as you come up and repeat for a 10-15 times. Do two sets of the exercise.
6. Pull ups - This exercise targets the Latissimus Dorsi muscles of the back and is great for strength and stability. Grasp the pull with an overhand grip (palms facing away) and pull yourself up till the chin comes over the bar. Hold. Lower your body till your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Do 10-15 reps and two sets of the exercise.
These exercises may sound tough and for beginners they will be. However they are great for your back and will tone and shape your back to give you a sexy profile. These six exercises will definitely strengthen and define your upper and lower back.