With so much focus on the upper body and core, it’s easy to forget to tone your back muscles. After all, you want to look good in that slinky, backless dress, don’t you? The back exercises for women below work the two major muscles of the back—the latissimus dorsi (lats) that extend from the shoulders to the hip and the trapezius near your shoulders.
5.) Back Exercises for Women: Bent-Over Rows
Though this exercise primarily works the triceps, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the move incorporates the back muscles. Depending on what equipment you have available, you can do this move with a pair of dumbbells or a barbell.
How to do bent-over rows: Hold a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend forward at your waist until your chest is parallel to the floor, and let your arms hang straight down. Bend your elbows to lift the weights toward your chest and your elbows toward your waist, bringing your shoulder blades together. Lower the weights back to the start and repeat.
4.) Back Exercises for Women: Reverse Fly
If you’re working your chest muscles on the fly machine, reverse flies are a must. But if you don’t have access to a gym, try the exercise with a pair of dumbbells and a form similar to the bent-over row.
How to do reverse flies: Using the fly machine at your gym (the one with two arms suspended at chest level), sit facing the machine (this usually means sitting backward on the seat). Add enough weight to challenge you but make sure it’s not too heavy to lift. By squeezing the muscles of your upper back together, bring the two hanging arms toward each other behind your back. Hold for a second, then slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.
3.) Back Exercises for Women: Superman
Or should we say Superwoman? As the name implies, you’ll look a bit like the caped superhero while doing this exercise, but do it enough and you’ll also have super strength. There’s no exercise equipment needed for this simple back exercise for women. It’s just you and your motivation (and maybe a cape, if you’re so inclined).
How to do the Superman: Lie on your stomach with your arms reaching over your head and your feet hip-distance apart. Engage your back and glutes to raise your arms, chest and legs off the floor. At this point, you can either hold for as long as you can (aim for 30 seconds to a minute) or hold for a second before lowering back down and repeating for multiple reps.
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2.) Back Exercises for Women: Lat Pulldowns
Even though this exercise requires a gym machine (or your home one if you’re a workout junkie), it’s the perfect counterbalance to shoulder exercises like presses.
How to do lat pulldowns: Find the lat pulldown machine at your gym (barbell suspended by a cable above a seat). Sit down facing the machine with your quads anchored under the support bar. Select a weight that’s comfortable to lift. Reach above your head and grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar down behind your neck but don’t strain your neck forward. Keep your elbows pointed out to the side as you lower and raise the bar back up.
1.) Back Exercises for Women: Back Extensions
Back extensions are kind of like backward crunches, but because your back doesn’t bend like your abs do, you’ll need a bit more room. And since they recruit not only your lats but your glutes and hamstrings as well, they’re the perfect backside exercise.
How to do back extensions: You’ll need to use the back extension bench at a gym for this move. Rest your legs and hips on the padded part and hang toward the floor, anchoring yourself with the bar near your ankles. Using your back and glutes, raise your upper body to form a straight line with your lower body then lower back down. For this exercise, you can either rely on your own body weight or hold an 8- to 15-pound weight or plate near your chest.
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All these exercises are the perfect complement to your abs workout by making sure your entire core is stabilized. Just make sure that when doing back exercises, you never arch or collapse your back or try to lift too much weight, as you could seriously injure yourself. When your middle and lower back muscles are weak, you are more likely to experience low back pain. Strengthening the deeper muscles of the back develops support for your spine and pelvis.
What are your favorite back exercises for women? How do you stay fit? Tell us in the comments.