Oh your aching back! Ever wonder why you have back pain, even though you never lift anything heavy or do strenuous activities? Weak muscles are often at the root of back pain. Wimpy back muscles can cause you to slump, slouch and stand with poor posture, too. Unless you have suffered a back injury or have been diagnosed with a condition, such as osteoporosis, back exercises that strengthen your muscles can clear up most minor back aches and pains. See your doctor and then get to the gym to strengthen your back.
Importance of Back Strength
Building muscle in your back by doing some strength training on weight and cable machines in the gym not only helps alleviate most minor back pain, but you'll also come away looking leaner and feeling stronger. Strong back muscles keep your spine straight, so you stand up straighter and sit a little taller. You'll be able to do more of your favorite cardio exercises, such as walking and hiking, because strong back muscles help to stabilize our spine. Get to the gym and work your back muscles a couple of times each week to sculpt a sexy, strong back.
Cable Machine Rows
Cable machines in the gym are user-friendly and are very effective for strengthening your back muscles. You can adjust the amount of resistance of the cables by adding or removing weight. Cable rows work your upper back and your shoulders for a lean, strong look. Set the bench to an incline so that you can lean your bottom against the top section of the bench and your feet are at the bottom of the bench. Plant your feet firmly on the floor on either side of the inclined bench. Lean forward from the waist with your arms fully extended and grasp the cable handles. Pull the cables toward your abdomen as you straighten your body from the waist to an upright sitting position. Do eight to 10 repetitions, and then add more weight or do more repetitions as you grow stronger.
Lat Pulldown Machine
After you finish your set of cable rows, it's time to move to the lat machine. You can either sit or stand to do lat pulldowns. This machine works your “lats”or latissimus dorsi muscles in your upper back. Sit or stand in front of the machine or sit on the bench. Reach up and grab the pulldown handles with your hands a little wider than shoulder-width. Squeeze your belly to brace your body and then pull down on the bar. Try to pull the bar all the way to the middle of your chest. Do eight to10 repetitions before you move to the next back-building exercise machine.
The back extension machine uses your own body weight against the force of gravity to really work those lower back muscles. Position your body on the machine with your thighs resting on the large pads in the front and your ankles under the smaller pads in the back. Cross your arms over your chest and lower your upper body from the waist. That's the easy part. Next, lift your upper body straight up until your back is straight from your head to your ankles and hold for two seconds. That's the hard part. You can really punch up this exercise by holding a couple of dumbbells close to your chest.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.