8 Moves That Build a Leaner, Stronger Back
Let's get rid of that back fat showing when you wear a tight tank top the smart way: a series of eight exercises that target the spot and also help you lose overall body fat. Targeted back exercises alone won't do the trick, but adding in some high intensity works to get the fat sizzling off while you simultaneously tone and strengthen your back in no time!
We enlisted the help of certified trainer Sarah Chadwell for insight on how you can sculpt your back and destroy the fat in one workout. "Large, dense muscles burn more calories and thus more fat, so you want to build lean muscle mass using resistance exercises," said Chadwell. "You also burn fat when you work at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate through cardiovascular exercise, high-intensity training, or plyometrics. What's even cooler is that you can create combinations of these types of exercises to get strong and burn fat at the same time." Here are Chadwell's suggestions for burning back fat and building lean muscle mass starting with your next gym visit.
You'll need a pull-up bar (or a table) and some patience. It takes some time to build up to doing a proper pull-up.
Place a plyo box directly underneath the pull-up bar and stand on it.
Push-ups require no equipment and barely any space so they make for a great low-impact workout to make your back stronger and leaner.
Begin in a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (since we are targeting your back).
Brace your core by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
Keeping your back flat, begin to lower your body toward the floor until your chin almost touches it. Remember to look down toward the floor between your hands to keep a neutral spine, and don't let your elbows flare out. Keep them close to your sides.
With your core still engaged, begin pushing up, back into starting position.
Do three sets of 10 reps.
Jump up and grab the bar while simultaneously pulling yourself up into a pull-up.
Hold the pull-up as long as you can and then slowly begin lowering yourself to the floor (as slowly as possible).
Once your arms are fully extended, release so that you land standing on the box again.
Perform as many as you can and aim to do at least five.
Jumping rope works your upper body, including your back, just as much as it works your lower body. Plus, your heart rate will soar if you give it your all.
Choose a jump-rope style – regular, double under, or any type of jump roping you are comfortable with - and jump rope for one full minute to start. You can build up to a full rope workout little by little.
Rowing Machine Sprints
"Rowing machines provide excellent high-intensity full-body workouts when the exercise is done correctly. They also work your back as you complete the pulling portion of the exercise," said Chadwell. "Not only are you using the rowing machine to work your back, but also as a fat burner if you use it two minutes at a time for sprints."
The best way to learn the correct form for rowing is through a group class.
Overhead Ball Throws
A medicine ball adds weight to this move to make it extra effective.
Find a wall that you can throw a medicine ball against without hitting anything (fire alarms, lights, etc.). Ideally, there will be a wall in your gym designated for activities like this one.
Stand facing the wall in a neutral stance holding an appropriately weighted medicine ball (six to 12 pounds). Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart.
Hold the medicine ball in front of your chest. Squat down toward the floor.
As you rise from the squat, forcefully throw the ball as high as you can against the wall.
The ball should fall back into your hands. Immediately catch it and begin moving into the squat to repeat the sequence.
Medicine Ball Slams
This full-body move targets your back and gets your body pumping for a quick cardio exercise.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding an appropriately weighted medicine ball in front of your chest (six to 12 pounds).
Lift the medicine ball above your head. Your arms should be fully extended.
Then, forcefully slam the ball down to the floor as hard as you can.
If the medicine ball is rubber, it may bounce back to you, so be careful. If it's not rubber, you'll have to pick it back up to move to the next repetition.
The Superman is a great way to strengthen your lower back and tone your glutes.
Lie on the floor face down.
Lift your chest a few inches off the floor.
Next, lift your arms and point them out in front of you to create a Y shape. Hold for a three-count.
Keeping your chest off the floor, move your arms directly out to your sides (so that they are pointing out to the right and left) into a T shape. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a three-count.
With your chest still off the floor, move your arms into an A shape by bringing them by your sides (or pointing backward behind you). Squeeze your shoulder blades and hold for a three-count.
Relax and lower your chest to the floor. That was one round.
You can make this harder by holding light dumbbells (two to five pounds).
This move is great to fix your posture, by strengthening your core, but also works your calves, quads, hamstrings, and shins.
Begin in a standing position with your feet about hip-width apart.
Get your arms in the "ready" position as if you are about to take off jogging. Your elbows will be bent at a 90-degree angle, your fists will be lightly closed, and your arms should be near your sides.
Begin by driving your right knee up as high as you can toward your chest. Aim to get your knee at least up to waist level. Your left arm will pump backward simultaneously, giving your body momentum. You are literally sprinting in place.
As the right leg touches down, immediately bring your left knee up toward your chest. This time your right arm will pump backward.
Be sure that you stay on the balls of your feet the entire time – your heels should never slam down on the floor. Move quickly and with great driving force.
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