I don’t know about you, but my back muscles are quite weak, which is exactly why I decided to find some information and ended up writing this post. I spend many hours daily sitting in a chair in front of the computer, which is one of the worst things you can do for your back.
The back is one of the most neglected areas of the human body, whether or not you workout. There are several reasons for this: modern life involves a lot of sitting, which is terrible for your back; the back muscles are difficult to isolate for exercise; and people tend to care less about what their back looks like. But that is a shame, because strengthening your back can:
- Reduce or eliminate back pain (one of the most common health problems of our time)
- Improve and maintain healthy posture
- Strengthen your body’s core – back muscles are a crucial part of this
- Add to your overall physique
- Make you stronger
You don’t need to go all out and aim for ripped back muscles; the key idea is to maintain healthy musculature, posture, and balance. Here are some exercises to get you started:
The Superman is an excellent beginner back strengthening exercise. It will work out and stretch your lower back in particular, which is great if you’re sitting in a chair for many hours every day.
Simply lie down on your stomach (ideally on a soft surface like a mat) and fully stretch out your legs and arms. Then lift your arms and legs upwards at the same time , hold for a couple of seconds, and lower back down – you will feel strain in your lower back.
If this is too difficult, you can start out by only raising your arms or legs at a time, or raising one arm and one leg at a time. Try to aim for 10-15 reps and 3 sets.
Prone Y Extension
This exercise is similar to the Super Man, but takes things to another level by isolating your back more and rotating your shoulders out. This is a good exercise to move up to after the Superman starts to get easy. Aim for holding 5-10 seconds for 3 sets of 8 reps.
Wide Grip Pull Ups
Pull ups done with a wide grip are a good way to work your back muscles, primarily the lats. And considering that pull-ups are a traditional calisthenics exercise, you should have no problem incorporating this into your routine.
I personally had very weak back muscles so I incorporated a lot more wide pull ups into my workout routine. Try to do as many wide pull-ups as you can and repeat for up to 4 sets.
Inverted / Bodyweight Row
Simply lie on the ground underneath the bar or table, grab on with an overhand grip just past shoulder width, and keeping your body in a straight line, pull yourself up until your chest comes close to or touches the bar/table, and lower back down.
A good number of repetitions to aim for is 5-10 of up to 4 sets. To make the exercise easier, you can bend your legs at the knees.
The Back Lever
The back lever is a great progression exercise which can take you to having enough back strength to hold up your body parallel to the ground. The great thing about the back lever is that you can start out with an easier version and progress to the full movement.
Start out by gripping a bar past shoulder width, and then rotate your body upwards, bringing your feet over your head. When you’re just starting out this movement, the best thing to do is to simple let your body hang down and try to maintain that position for as long as possible, before progressing to the tucked lever. Check out this great video for the full progression:
Dr. Eric Goodman’s Lower Back Workout
If you’re really serious about strengthening your back (especially if you want to get rid of pain), considering doing this 10-minute back workout instead of everything else. This workout was made by Dr. Eric Goodman, a certified chiropractor and founder of Foundation Training, a popular exercise program aimed at healing back pain.
I can personally attest to the effectiveness of this workout; my back felt better immediately after doing it. You should ideally do this every day, but of course doing it even once a week is better than nothing. Check out the video below for the workout!