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When planning your workouts, do you often focus on just what you can see? Many beginners make the mistake of forgetting the back muscles but they are just as important as the front, especially to maintain good posture and avoid injury!

The back is one of the most important areas in the body to strengthen and tone up because it plays an essential part in posture. If you have poor muscle tone in the back but large muscles in the front of your body, the shoulders become rounded and you put the back and neck muscles under constant strain. We can break the back into three main sections the upper, middle and lower back areas and you can target them individually during a workout. Whenever you work a front muscle make sure to even it out with a back exercise to keep good muscle balance.

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Back Anatomy

The upper back is made up the muscles that are responsible for keeping the shoulders in a neutral position and are head stable without protruding forward causing strain. These muscles are the Trapezius, Rhomboids, Supscapularis, Supraspinatus and the Teres minor and major.

The middle back area has the largest back muscle, known as the latissimus dorsi. This muscle is also one of the largest in the body, and it stretches from your shoulders in a large triangle down the sides of the back to the spine. It is the muscle that often gives people a "winged" look when it is larger than normal. Also in this area is part of the erector spinae group which keep the spine in an erect position.

The lower area of the back has the top of the gluteal muscles (bottom) and many other attachments that cover the hip area such as the hamstrings. Also in this area are more erector spinae muscle's and the external oblique's can be found in part on the lower back. There are many body weight exercises such as sit ups which help this area of the back too.

How To Plan In Back Workouts

It is a really good idea to try and plan in a back day during your workouts. You can combine it with another muscle group or even do it on cardio day but it shouldn't be avoided because this can lead to injuries. A common combination is to include the back and biceps in one workout because of lot of the back exercises actually use the biceps as their supporting muscle so you can hit two birds with one stone!

It is quite often that people who lack tone in their back actually have back pain and this is because the muscles in this area are at a constant strain. If your shoulders are rounded the trapezius and rhomboids are always stretched further than their natural position and therefore after a long day will become painful. Improving the tone in these muscles will hold the neck and shoulders in the correct position and therefore avoid further pain or tension.

When completing the exercises a good set/rep ratio is 3 sets of 8-12 reps. If you are using a heavy weight to build strength then stick to a lower rep range of 8-10 but if you’re looking to build endurance use a slightly lower weight and higher reps of 10-12.
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