I was extremely flattered to receive a few compliments on my back from my last post (see it here), that I thought it would be fun to film a few of my favorite back exercises for you (I have many more, and I may follow this up with a Part II if you all like it). Forgive the iPhone videos and the rudimentary video editing - it's what I have to work with right now. If you're looking for a bit more instruction on each move, keep reading! (Disclaimer: I am NOT a personal trainer, nor do I claim to be an expert on fitness or body mechanics. These exercises are just what work for me.)
1. BANDED LAT PULLS TO REVERSE LUNGE:
Tie a resistance band (the red one is the lightest, at least at my gym) around the top of a TRX frame or something similar. Grab the band with both hands and walk out until you get some resistance. Drop into a reverse lunge on one leg as you pull the band toward your body, focusing on squeezing your lats as you do. Repeat 12 times on one leg, then move onto the next leg.
2. PLANK FACE-PULLS:
Using the same red band, tie it around something low and stable, like the base of a TRX frame. Get into a high plank position and grab the band with one hand, making sure that you are far enough away from it to start with a little resistance. Make sure the grounded hand is in one line under your shoulder. Pull the band in a parallel line to the floor toward your body, again squeezing your lat in the process. Repeat 12 times, then move on to the next arm. If this is too difficult, these are just as effective for your back in a low-plank position (on your forearm), you just don't get as much of the added core benefit.
3. RECIPROCAL ROWS:
Using a Kinesis machine (if you don't have a Kinesis machine in your gym, hook up TWO red bands to a tall frame as in exercise 1, and pull the bands in a reciprocal motion), set the weight to an appropriate difficulty level for you, and grab each handle with one hand. Step back far enough to create some resistance. Pull back toward your body with one arm (again squeezing the lat), then as you are returning that arm to the starting position, pull the OTHER arm back. The reciprocal motion means that as one arm is pulling, the other is returning to start. Repeat this 15 times on each arm (30 total pulls).
4. INVERTED ROWS:
Using a TRX set-up, (if you don't have one at your gym, you can use a horizontal bar on a squat rack or a Smith Machine) adjust the handles to a comfortable height for you. You do NOT have to set them this low. I am almost parallel to the ground here, but the higher up you set the handles or the bar, or the farther you walk your feet in, the easier it will be. Starting with your arms fully extended, pull your body up, keeping your arms in a "goal post" position. Lower back down. Repeat until failure.
5. BAND-ASSISTED PULL-UPS:
First of all, if you don't need a resistance band for assistance with pull-ups, you go on with your bad self. As many times as I've tried to perfect my pull-up, I still can only do ONE on my own. Zero shame in using bands for pull-ups, you still get a TON of benefits.
Tie a resistance band around a tall bar (the color band you use will depend on your pull-up abilities - the higher the resistance on the band, the easier the exercise will be). Standing on a tall box or step, put one foot into the band, then grab the bar with a pronated grip. Lower yourself as far down as the band will allow to start the exercise. Pull yourself up using your back, not your forearms, and make sure your chin reaches the top of the bar. Lower back down. Repeat as many times as possible until failure (until your chin no longer reaches the bar).
JUST FOR FUN - BASKETBALL BICYCLES:
Couldn't resist throwing these in for a little bonus round. These are a bit tricky at first, but once you master them, they are killer for your core. Start in a V-sit position, holding a medicine ball (I'm using 10 pounds here, but start light and work your way up, or use NO weight and just have your hands do the motions). As your legs start doing the bicycle motion, weave the ball in and out of your legs. Try for 50 full weaves, or until failure. This one also has the added benefit of working your arms!
Please ask me if you have any questions, and let me know if you'd like to see more videos / workouts like this!