by Emily Bibb
The next time you head to the gym, try this back workout that will leave you standing tall. Combining a variety of exercises from yoga stretches to weights, this sequence will not only strengthen your back but your quads and core too. Grab a pair of dumbbells and try this series for yourself. When you’re done, finish with a long stretch and rock that tank top with pride.
Cat and Cow
The Cat and Cow is a classic move that is great as warmup (in this case) or stretch after a long day in the office. Breath slowly and move methodically as you work the kinks out of your spine.
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips, and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged.
- As you inhale, let your belly soften, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called cow.
- With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck your tailbone in (don’t clench your tush) and tuck your chin toward your chest. This part is known as cat.
- Continue flowing back and forth from cat to cow, for about a minute.
Keep reading for the rest of the workout.
When the front and back of your torso work together, your whole core gets to reap the benefits. The quadruped is an easy-to-follow exercise that will work your back and side body. No need to speed through this move; go for quality, not quantity.
- Star on all fours. Keeping your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, pull your abs up toward your spine to stabilise your body.
- Reach out with your right hand, and extend your left leg. Now connect your elbow with your knee under your body. To increase the difficulty, hold a two- or three-pound weight in your right hand. Repeat 15 times to complete the set before switching sides.
Plank With Reverse Row
The plank with reverse row is a great exercise that will target not only your arms and back, but your core and glutes as well. You can do this move with or without dumbbells.
- In a plank position with your legs wider than hip-width distance, place your right hand under your sternum (breast bone). Grip the weight (keep your wrist locked out) or spread your fingers wide on the ground.
- With your core tight and your glutes engaged, exhale and stabilise your torso as you lift the weight.
- Hold your plank as you lift your left arm to row; feel your right shoulder blade sliding toward your spine as you bend your elbow up toward the sky.
- Keeping your neck long and energized, return the weight to the ground and repeat the movement on your right side.
- Do 10 reps per arm.
Using a weight, the leaning camel will strengthen your quads, abs, and back.
- Stand on your knees with your toes tucked. If this hurts your knees, fold up a mat or towel and stand on that for a little cushioning. Your thighs should be parallel.
- Hold a dumbbell, five to eight pounds, comfortably with both hands in front of your chest.
- Take a breath in and as you exhale, lean back hinging at your knees. Don’t arch your back as in Camel pose, but instead keep your torso in one straight line. As you inhale, return your torso back to the starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 15 times.
Using dumbbells between one and a half to two kilos, Pilates boxing will help to strength and tone your arms and back.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your elbows back, keeping your upper arms even with your back, and bring the weights to your upper waist.
- Then bend your knees to come into a half-squat while creasing at your hips so your spine is almost parallel to the floor. Your pelvis, spine, and head should form one long line.
- As you exhale, simultaneously extend your right arm straight out in front of you and the left arm straight behind you. Rotate both wrists so your front palm is down and your back palm is up.
- With control, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side, this completes one rep. Do eight to 10 reps on each arm.
Finish with a downward dog before repeating the series for a total of two times.