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Get a Stronger Back

Most of us leave pretty sedentary lives spending most of the time sitting in the car, at work and at home; as a result our back muscles are weak and we are plagued by back aches. However there is something you can do to counter an inactive lifestyle: Build a strong back. Think of it this way your back muscles are the foundation of your body’s most important structure. They support your spine, keeping all those vertebrae in place.

Without a strong back we open ourselves up to a wide variety of back problems. A weak back also prevents us from being as active as we would like to be from playing golf to swimming or just taking a walk: a weak and aching back is the major reason people give for not being more active. Besides having a strong back will improve your posture, help you lose weight and improve how you look in a tank top and jeans. Strong back contributes to your overall core strength and a strong core is vital to your health contributing to an overall muscular and strong physique.

So what is the best way to build a stronger back? Well first of all let us look at the three major muscles that make up your back. Your back consists of three muscle groups: the Trapezius or Traps, the Latissimus Dorsi or Lats and the Erector Spinae. The Traps are large muscles running from the base of your skull and laterally down the top of your spine supporting the spine, shoulder and arm. The Lats are the muscle that give body builders that “V” shape back. These large flat muscles are located just below the back of the arms and run down the side of the back. Lastly but just as important is the Erector Spinae. This muscle is made up of groups of muscles and tenons that run along each side of your spine. Think of it as a bundle of cables supporting your spine as the spinal column bends and twists.

So you can see how important it is to build a strong back. Problem is many people especially young men concentrate on the Lats & Traps because that is what gives them that strong athletic look when they are walking down the beach. However it is vital to exercise all these muscles in order to maintain muscle balance and give the spinal column proper support.

Of course before beginning this or any exercise program check with your doctor and I strongly suggest signing up with a personnel trainer, especially if you have not workout in a while. Below are some common exercises that will build a strong back.

  1. Bent over rows.
  2. Cable pull downs
  3. Wide grip pull-ups.
  4. Planks
  5. Push ups

I included a mix of free/machine and body weight exercises. It is important to use a combination of these exercises to properly strengthen all three back muscles groups and prevent injury.

Also be sure to follow these guidelines:

  1. Do not forget to properly warm up and stretch your muscles.
  2. Start slow with light weights.
  3. Prevent injury by not pushing yourself too hard.
  4. Find a trainer that will work with you. You do not need a drill instructor your need someone who challenges you, but also knows when it is time to rest.
  5. Get plenty of rest between workouts, strength training two or three times a week is plenty.
  6. Rest! You do not build muscle when you exercise. In fact you tear down muscle fiber. It is only when you rest that your muscles have a chance to rebuild.

If you follow these tips you too can have a stronger back, prevent back pain, feel good, be more active and look great this summer! Of course if you have back problems it is important to address the causes of your pain first, fortunately there are exercises to relieve your pain and help build a strong and balance back.

 Pete Turner