Saturday, 7 January 2012

5 Back Exercises you Aren’t Doing

The back is a notoriously tough area to train. There are three main reasons for this;

a)    When people start out, they don’t usually train their backs, mirror muscles like the chest, abs and biceps get more attention, meaning the back is usually playing catch up

b)   Since you can’t see your back in the mirror, it’s often difficult to form that mind-muscle connection so vital for adequately stimulating the muscle fibers

c)    The back is complex musculature which requires a range of different movements and grips to hit all the different sections

Training your back is crucial for your overall physique, it is part of the crucial posterior chain forming the supporting foundation of the entire body. The back area is an inverted diamond shape, spanning from the upper trapezius to the erector spinae, and, contrary to popular belief, parts of the back –the upper lats for example – are visible head-on.

In short, back training is an absolute must. So what should you do? Everyone knows that pull-ups, deadlifts and lat pull-downs are great back exercises that should form the core of your routine, but what can you throw in to mix things up and keep your back guessing? Here are a few ideas;

1)   Barbell Unilateral Rows
The dumbbell version of this exercise is very popular, but using a bar will add an element of instability. Lean on a bench with one knee supported and the other foot on the floor, make sure you back is parallel to the floor. Start with your arm extended and bring the barbell up to your side, hold, squeeze and repeat.

2)   Bent Over Rows with Hammer Grip
Perform a bent over row as you normally would – back parallel to the floor, rowing the barbell up to your abdomen by retracting your scapulae, but instead of an over or under hand grip, use two single handles from a cable machine so you can grip the bar in a hammer fashion.

3)   Overhead Shrugs
You probably use a lot of weight for regular shrugs – you won’t be able to with the overhead variety. Hold a barbell above your head with a shoulder length grip and literally shrug your shoulders. This move might take some getting used to but it’s highly effective.

4)   Face pulls
This is great for stimulating the middle/lower traps and rear deltoids. Attach a rope grip to a cable station, setting it about eye-level. You can do this standing or seated but I’d recommend standing to begin with. Standing with your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor, gripping the rope with both hands. Pull the cable towards you and up slightly so it’s parallel to your face, let the rope splay out so you can increase the range of movement.

5)   Inverted Rows
Despite this exercise being performed with no weight, it’s arguably the toughest on this list. Find a smith machine and position the bar about 2 feet from the floor, place a bench in front of the smith machine. Suspend yourself so your feet are supported on the bench and you are gripping the bar with a shoulder width grip, pull yourself up to the bar, lower, then repeat. Enjoy!


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