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At-Home Back Exercises
You can get a strong back at home with bodyweight exercise.
Deadlifts, lat pull-downs and barbell rows are considered the gold standard of back-strengthening exercises, but they're not necessarily accessible to someone who's working out at home. Unless you have a home gym stocked with equipment, you're more likely to do body-weight or simple dumbbell exercises that target your back to build up muscle.
You might neglect your back muscles, simply because you can't seem them. That's a mistake, however, as strong back muscles not only protect you from injury by protecting your fragile spine, but also improves your posture, making you feel and look more confident.
A simple exercise, shoulder packing can be done anywhere — even while watching TV on your couch.
To complete this exercise, sit or stand up straight and engage your abs to stabilize your spine. On the exhale, pull your shoulders back so your shoulder blades move down and back. Make sure your lower back doesn't arch, but feel your upper back muscles working to hold the position. Hold the pose for five to 10 seconds and release to complete one rep.
This simple move makes you look like you're flying, just like Superman.
To do a Superman, lay flat on your stomach on a mat or the floor with your legs stretched out behind you. Position your arms so they're extended out straight in front of you and you've created a straight line from your fingertips to the tips of your toes. Take a breath and engage your ab muscles, and then push both legs away from your torso, so they lift a couple inches off the floor. At the same time, lift your arms up a few inches off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
Upside Down Flys
Instead of doing a fly while on your back, turn over and lie on your stomach. Grab two dumbbells — or a similar weighty object — and position your stomach on the floor, face down, with your arms extended to the sides. With the dumbbells in each hand, arch your back to raise your shoulders and arms in the air, and then lift and lower the dumbbells three times. Lower back to the floor to complete one repetition.
Building up your back muscles means less pain.
While you do need a piece of equipment for this, you can improvise at home. Usually, an inverted row is done by hanging onto a barbell, but you can use a thicken wooden dowel or pipe, laid across two sturdy chairs. You can also lie under a sturdy table that has a lip and grip the edge.
To do an inverted row, lie on your back on the ground beneath your improvised bar, which should be positioned so it's about an inch from where your fingertips end when extending your arms straight up. Hold the bar using an overhand grip and engage your abdominal muscles. Keeping your body in a straight line — don't let your tush sag — pull yourself up toward the bar so it hits in the middle of your chest. Pull your shoulder blades back at the top of the row, and then lower yourself down to complete one rep.
Kelsey Casselbury is a freelance writer and editor based in central Maryland. Her clients have included Livestrong, School Nutrition magazine, What's Up? Media, American Academy of Clinical Chemistry, SmartBrief and more. She has a formal education in personal training/nutrition and a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Pennsylvania State University.