Bodyweight Back Exercises for Workout Progress
Hunching over your desk, phone or laptop for several hours on end won’t do your back any favors. The back is one of the most important and biggest muscle groups that people are guilty of ignoring. Bodyweight back exercises are crucial to preventing back injuries from occurring and maintaining functional movement. The back is actually used in almost every movement performed throughout the day, from carrying your purse or backpack to bending over to tie your shoes. Exercises and back maintenance are essential, even if you have a desk job because sitting for a long period of time can place pressure on the discs and strain the back.
There are many options in terms of exercises to perform that can work to strengthen the back and even challenge the muscles or increase muscle mass.
Like when working with other muscle groups it’s important not to overdo it. Shoot for serious workouts a few times a week. Practice stretching the muscles in the shoulders, neck and back daily to improve strength, flexibility and minimize pain and injury.
Using the appropriate pillows for neck and shoulder pain can also help to speed up the muscle recovery time by preventing additional strain caused by poor posture during rest or after overworking the muscles in your back.
The Best Exercises for Neck and Back Health
In addition to moving around at least once an hour, you should also practice a few basic bodyweight exercises. The exercises covered here will work to target the rhomboids, lumbar and lats, not to mention the spinal erector muscles that support, stabilize and surround the spine. And because these are bodyweight exercises, no equipment is needed.
The reverse snow angel is an easy, effective exercise that works to strengthen the back. Place yourself face down on the ground with your arms straight at your sides and the palms facing down. Your shoulders and hands should be a couple of inches off the ground. You can do this by pinching the scapula together and engaging the rhomboids and lats. While keeping your head facing down, in a controlled slow motion, bring the arms up past the shoulders, up to the ears until the thumbs directly meet above the head. Next, bring the arms back to the beginning position. You must keep the elbows locked and the arms straight throughout the entire movement in order to ensure both the shoulders and lats are engaged. Do five reps with sixty seconds of rest between each set.
The dolphin kick is another popular exercise. Find a bench and place yourself face down. The crease of your hips should be placed at the end of the bench. The feet should rest on the ground with the hands firmly placed for support on the underside of the bench. Next, straighten the legs while raising them and engaging the hips, glutes, spinal erectors and abs. The toes should remain pointed away from the body. Try to hold this position for ten seconds, engaging all of your muscles, before you slowly drop the feet. Repeat this exercise for five reps, resting for sixty seconds between sets.
Challenging Back Exercises
The superman is a classic exercise you’ll find in many HIIT routines. To do, lie face down with your eyes at a neutral gaze and your chin on the ground. Your toes should be pointed under you while the ankles remain touching. Place your arms above the shoulders so that the palms rest flat on the ground. Now, engage the shoulders, glutes and back, pulling yourself just a couple of inches off the ground. The legs and arms should remain fully contracted so that the feet and hands are elevated at the same level. Hold this position for thirty sends and repeat for four reps.
The hip hinge is a powerful exercise that provides impressive results. To begin, stand straight with hands on your hips. Your feet should be placed just slightly wider than the hips. Engage the core, pulling your shoulders back slightly and pushing the ribs down. Bend at the waist in a controlled, slow motion while keeping the shoulders stacked over the hips. Keep the hamstrings, glutes and back engaged during the entire exercise.
Avoid rounding the back which can result in the loss of the neutral spine position. Form is very important with this exercise and should be perfectly replicated with each rep in order to get the most out of the exercise and avoid injury. Do three sets of fifteen reps, resting for one minute between sets.
If you’re up for a challenge you can try this next advanced moved. The nose and toes against a wall is an exercise that requires you to keep your core tight the entire time. You will also need to keep your spine neutral and the hips flexed. Now, place your palms on the ground, outside of the shoulders and you slowly move your hands towards the wall. You’ll hit the top of this movement when just the toes and nose touch the wall. Next, come down the wall by bringing the feet down and walking the hands down in a controlled manner. Do this for three reps and hold each position for thirty seconds.
Stretching for Better Back and Neck Health
Before you execute any movement or take on any type of workout, warming up through stretching is a must. But knowing how to stretch correctly can be the difference between straining muscles and seeing results.
Fitness experts recommend stretching for five to ten minutes before a workout or for even longer if a workout you’re doing is particularly rough. This is especially true for heavy weight lifting, where failing to stretch can cause the limbs to lock up or put you at risk of muscle spasms or strains.
Stretching in place of a workout can also be a good option, especially if you have been working out hard all week and don’t want to take a rest day.
If you feel that you have to be active on your rest day, try a yoga or Pilates routine. These workouts will teach you how to correctly stretch and can even work to strengthen and lengthen certain muscle groups.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re executing these bodyweight back exercises correctly, watch a video or join a yoga class once or twice a week.