4 moves for a strong, sexy back

Improve your posture, prevent back injuries and sculpt sexy muscles with these four essential moves for a stronger back

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Work out your back

There are numerous muscles in the back; all work together to help maintain the healthy functioning of everyday movements such as bending, twisting, standing and sitting.

The back musculature can be divided into three layers: superficial (directly under the skin), intermediate (middle) and deep (closest to the bone). The muscles of the superficial layer help extend and rotate the arms medially and move the shoulder blades. The intermediate layer consists of the serratus posterior superior and inferior. Both these muscles help with breathing by elevating and depressing the ribs. The deep layer consists of the erector spinae and the smallest intricate muscles surrounding the vertebrae. These muscles are responsible for the flexibility and movement of the spine as well as adding stability to the back.

Ready to get a stronger, healthier, sexier back? Do these four moves two to three times a week to see results in four weeks.

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woman arms weights

Getting started

What you need: Two 5 to 10 lb dumbbells and a mat


What to do: Choose a weight that challenges you while allowing you to complete 10 to 12 repetitions for two to three sets. Rest 45 seconds between each set.


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arm row

1. Single arm row (lunge position)

Works: rhomboids, lats, middle back and biceps

From a standing position, lunge forward with your right leg and hold a dumbbell in your left hand, palms facing back.  Bend the torso forward by hinging at the hips while keeping your spine straight. Draw the belly button in toward the spine to protect the lower back. For added support, brace your right leg with your right hand.

• Pull the dumbbell to your ribcage, keeping the elbow at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze the shoulder blade at the top of the motion. Hold this position for 2 seconds.

• Slowly lower the weight to an extended arm position and repeat.

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bent over row

2. Bent over row

Works: lats, rhomboids, middle back and biceps

Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend forward by hinging at the hips to a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inward and arms extended down. Draw your belly button in toward the spine to support the lower back.

• Keeping elbows close to the body, lift the weights until the elbows pass your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the motion. Hold the position for 2 seconds.

• Return to start position for one repetition.

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plank row

3. Plank row (modified)

Works: middle back, lats, core, arms

Get on hands and knees, with hands directly under shoulders and a dumbbell beside each hand. Keep your spine straight, with a slight natural curve, from the top of your head to your tailbone-don’t let your back collapse. Pull your belly button in toward your spine. 

• Keeping your elbow close to the body, lift one dumbbell toward the ribcage until the elbow passes your back. Keep the abdominals tight and avoid moving the whole body.

• Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite side. This equals one repetition.  

Advanced: Try doing the exercise from a full plank or push-up position, with body straight and core engaged.

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arm and leg lift

4. Alternating arm and leg lift

Works: lower back

Lie face down on the mat with your arms fully extended in front of you, thumbs pointing toward the ceiling. Engage the core to avoid collapsing in the back and keep the neck extended.

• At the same time, lift your right arm and left leg toward the ceiling, keeping them both extended. Keep both hips on the mat throughout the movement.  Hold the position for 3 seconds.

• Return to starting position and repeat with the left arm and right leg for one repetition.

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