Can you believe it’s another week already?!
Hey guys, welcome back to the ‘Road to Hawaii’ series. Last week, I spoke about the exercises and benefits of working out of chest. Click here to read last week’s blog post. This week, I want to talk about back, and why we should exercise our back muscles regularly.
Firstly, I want to update you on my fitness journey so far. This week, I’ve been trialing at a new gym and I’m still following the workout plan that I talked about in my first blog post. It’s important that week after week, if you’re following the same workout plan, that you make some changes to your workouts. Whether that’s changing the order of the exercises you’re doing or gradually increasing the weight, keep surprising your body so it doesn’t get used to the exercises. You want those muscles to really give 110%. I did a Synergy 360 class on Friday which was a constant one hour circuit on upper body. For those of you not familiar with the term circuit – think of it like a baseball field. You’re the batter and each base is a different exercise. You’re constantly rotating around the bases, completing a different exercise with minimal break time. It incorporates strength building and cardio, increasing your heart rate. I’m starting to see slight differences in my body, but these things take time. My prime objective is to build strength as well as look physically lean and athletic.
BACK TO BASICS Okay, so when you look in the mirror, you probably see every other muscle except for your back. However, don’t be fooled into believing that our backs aren’t as important as any other body part. They are IMPORTANT! When we work out back, it’s going to help you stand taller and straighter, making you appear much more confident, and for the guys, you’re going to help build that V-shape, which makes you look stronger. If you don’t build the strength in your back, then this has structural impacts to your body and posture. Whilst we can’t do anything to increase or strengthen our bones or spine, we can strengthen the muscles in our backs around the spine and bones. By doing this is going to help our posture, reduce the risk of back pain (as well as reducing neck and shoulder pain – remember, our muscles are all connected!) and make us more stable to perform daily activities such as shopping and walking.
Let me show you some of the exercises I do to build your back strength:
LATERAL PULL DOWNS (4 sets x 12 reps)
You’ll need to a gym member to complete this exercise, as you’ll need to use the lat pulldown machine. I recommend doing a few practice rounds on a very light weight, so you can ensure you are getting the correct form to avoid injury. Sit down straight on the seat and grab the ends of the pull down bar. You want to have your palms facing away from you. Pull the bar down towards your chest. As you pull it down, try to pinch your shoulder blades together and push your elbows back. You should feel that tension on your back. Release your shoulder blades and slowly raise the bar back up. That’s 1 rep! Now repeat that movement another 11 times for a full set.
PULL UPS (4 sets x reps to failure)
I totally love exercises where you aren’t using any additional weight other than your own body weight. Body weight exercises are probably the best exercises to develop muscles and build strength, and the pull up is no exception, especially for your back! You’ll need a bar that is strong enough to hold your own weight.
- If you’re a gym member, you’ll find pull up bars around
- If you’re not a gym member, you can buy pull up bars to hang on your doors or somewhere in the house
- You could also go outside and find a local park which has monkey bars or similar bars
The movement is basically the same as the lat pull down, but this time, the direction of movement has changed. Instead of pulling the bar down to us, we are going up to the bar. Hold the bar with palms facing away, and you want to slowly pull yourself your chest up to the bar. Again, same movement – so pinch your shoulder blades back as you rise up. When you reach the top of the bar, hold for a second before slowly lowering yourself back down. See how many you can do to start off with before you can’t do anymore. There is no right or wrong amount, just remember to push yourself!
BENT OVER ROW (4 sets x 12 reps)
Another exercise I’ve been doing in the past week is the bent over row. Grab a barbell (of if you’re at home, grab some weight you can hold evenly in both hands). Bend your knees and bring your body forward as if you are bending forward. Hang your arms and weight below your body and bring the barbell/weight up to your belly button. As you lift the barbell, pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the weight back to it’s starting position. That’s 1 rep completed.
Getting the chance to work with some of Hollywood’s top trainers has been so beneficial to realising how we need to warm down our bodies after we’ve done a workout. You put so much tension and pressure on your body parts, that you need to stretch them out when you finish. Which is why when we worked out, we always had sessions of yoga. So I was told to start adding the cobra pose into my workouts, as it’s great for stretching your back and building your core.
Lie face down on the floor. Place your hands shoulder width apart next to your shoulders, palms on the floor. Squeeze your butt and push your hips into the floor. Inhale and push your upper body off the ground. Drop your shoulders back and push your chest out. You should stretch back as much as you can, keeping your elbows close to your body. Hold the pose for around 30 seconds, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Slowly bring your chest back down to the ground.