Strengthen your back with a back workout

Siski Green / 15 January 2016

Strengthen your back and supporting muscles and avoid backache and strain with this back workout routine.



Injury or strain in the back is often the result of weak muscles elsewhere such as abdominal muscles or glutes, for example. But a good back workout routine can target all these muscles and help stretch the back muscles and elongate the spine too.

This back workout should take around 45 minutes and can be done two or three times a week.

Bent-over row

If you can, use a set of dumbbells (or hold a bottle of water in each hand) so that you really work your muscles during this move. 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees relaxed. Lean forward from your hips and keep your back flat. Holding your dumbbells at thigh level, pull them up towards your chest keeping your elbows tucked in. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then lower your dumbbells slowly.

Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Squats

Squats work several muscles that work together with your back muscles – the gluteus maximus and abdominal muscles, for example.

With your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees so that you lower yourself into a squat position. Imagine that you are trying to sit down in a chair but once your upper legs are parallel with the floor, start rising up again.

Make sure your knee doesn’t come forward of your foot – avoid leaning forward – as this can put undue strain on your knees.

Related: Your home muscle-strengthening programme

Lunges

These will work similar muscle groups to squats but target them in a different way – by moving as you work the muscles, different muscle fibres are engaged.

With your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips, take a big step forward with your right leg then lower your back knee so it is nearly touching the floor. Rise up again, then do the same with the left leg.

It’s very important to make sure the foot of whichever leg you lead with is in front or directly below your knee (of the same leg), otherwise you risk injuring your knee.

Do 10-12 repetitions (one set), swapping sides, and do three sets.

Arm and leg reach

This is a great exercise for strengthening your back muscles.

Get down on the floor on all fours, then, keeping your back straight, raise your right arm and your left leg so they create a straight line with your body. Hold for a count of five, then lower your limbs.

Repeat with the other side. Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Abdominal lifts

Lie on your back and put both legs in the air, crossing your legs at your ankles if you like or holding them together. Now raise your bottom off the floor a couple of inches. Repeat.

Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.

This move is an excellent way to target your abdominal muscles which support your back, without putting strain on your neck muscles which a standard crunch can do.

Related: How to get a flatter stomach

Twisted crunch

Lying on your back with your hands loosely held behind your neck, put both your legs together, knees bent, to one side. Now do a crunch aiming for the front like a normal crunch. You might not be able to get as high as you do with a standard crunch but don’t worry.

This type of crunch helps work on abdominal muscles that aren’t so easily targeted with a standard straight crunch.

Do two sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Stretch

Don’t forget to stretch your back muscles too. 

Related: Stretching: what you need to know

Nb: If you aren't used to exercise, see your GP before you start. They'll be able to tell you the right type of exercise for you, and give advice on starting slowly and building up gently.

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