Monday 20 November 2017

Siobhan Byrne: Turn your back on it ...

Workouts for the back are essential and bring many benefits, says our fitness expert

Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Fitness expert Siobhan Byrne. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Alternating superman
Alternating superman
Bent over row with kettlebells
Bent over row with kettlebells
Oblique back extension on BOSU
Oblique back extension on BOSU
Pullover with kettlebell
Pullover with kettlebell

Today's column is going to look at some great exercises for your back. When the back is in good shape the body looks balanced - pulling the shoulders back and creating an illusion of width at the lats (the latissimus dorsi) moving down to a smaller waistline.

It's not about the back looking broader, just more balanced and symmetrical. This shape is also known as a V-taper.

Whether, if you're a man, you are trying to develop more muscle or, if you're a woman, just creating a lean back, workouts for the back are essential no matter what age you are.

The largest back muscles are the latissimus dorsi (also known as the lats) in the mid-section of the back, which wrap around the sides of the upper body just below the arms. The lats give the torso a wider, flared shape. Other muscles include the middle deltoids, rhomboids and trapezius, while the lower back muscles consist of the abdominis, erector spinae and psoas muscles.

Working out your back can be a great calorie-burner. And as it's such a large muscle group you may find you are able to lift more weight that with other muscle groups, but always proceed with caution and start on a lighter weight before increasing the weight, if you are able.

Working out your back can bring many benefits for your body, especially if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle or if you suffer from back pain relating to lack of strength in your back.

A proper back routine can help develop your back muscles, especially in the lower back, to help reduce strains and general weakness that you may otherwise find you have.

A weak lower back can be from a number of factors, not just a weakness in the lower back muscles, so good core strength and strong glutes will benefit anyone with weaker back muscles.

You should ensure that your form is excellent, avoiding simple bad form technique like swinging or arching your back during exercises by pulling your core in tight.

Below are some of my favourite go-to exercises for working out my back.

Breaking down your workouts: Week 3 - back

Bent over row with kettlebells

1/ Start by bending forward, with a straight back and knees slightly bent, while holding kettlebells in straight arms and with your palms facing inwards.

2/ Raise the kettlebells up to the sides of the chest and then lower back down to start position.

Pullover with kettlebell

1/ Start by lying on the floor holding one kettlebell in both hands, with your arms extended up over your chest.

2/ Lower the kettlebell back behind your head while keeping your arms straight. Raise the kettlebell back up over your chest to the start position.

Alternating superman

1/ Lie face down with your abdomen on a BOSU, or the floor, your legs straight and your arms outstretched overhead. Then raise one arm and the opposite leg straight up off the floor.

2/ Lower both the leg and arm and repeat with the other arm and leg, while keeping your arms and legs straight throughout.

Oblique back extension on BOSU

1/ Start by lying down, with your abs over the BOSU, hands at the side of your head and legs straight out with toes touching the ground and balancing you.

2/ Lift your chest up and off the BOSU, twisting the body to one side. Lower back down to the start position and then repeat on the other side.

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