5 Great Moves For Your Back and Shoulders
Build your back and improve your posture with these five moves.
When it comes to working out, many gym-goers focus primarily on building and toning their arms and legs.
And hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having nice looking biceps and calves! But if you’re looking to improve your overall strength and help prevent injuries in sports and in everyday life, don’t miss out on giving some attention to your back and shoulders.
Not only will building muscles in these areas make almost every other exercise you perform easier, but you’ll also be improving your posture and developing core strength. And for those looking to sculpt a “V-shape” body, these moves can help get you there.
<h2> 1. Shoulder Taps
Shoulder taps are a little more intense than your traditional plank since you’re continually shifting your bodyweight, but the results on your shoulders are well worth the extra effort.
Start by getting into a push-up position. Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight. When you’re ready, lift your left hand off the ground and use it to tap your right shoulder. Bring it back down to the ground to steady your body. Now lift your right hand up and tap your left shoulder.
Every time you finish tapping both sides, that’s considered one rep. It may sound easy, but in practice, shoulder taps are a unique take on the classic plank that will keep your body engaged.
<h2> 2. Single-Arm Kettlebell Press
Grab a kettlebell and start by holding it near your chest in the rack position. This means the kettlebell will be resting in-between your forearm and bicep. Now lower your elbow until it’s placed firmly on your hip.
When you’re ready, bend your knees slightly, and as you extend your legs, press the arm holding the kettlebell out to the side and straight up. Raise it as far as you can and pause a moment. Slowly move the kettlebell back down to where you began the movement. Try and do 10-15 reps on each side.
In addition to working out your shoulders, the kettlebell press is also a solid workout for your core, as your torso will be continually engaged to assist with balance and stability.
<h2> 3. Lat Pulldown
Now it’s time to focus on your upper back.
Find a lat pulldown machine and grab the bar firmly. Use an overhead grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. Don’t pull just yet, sit down on the bench and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
When you’re ready, engage your shoulder blades to pull the bar down. Bring it down to the center of your chest and pause for a moment. Then slowly return to the starting position with your arms once again fully-raised.
While pulling, avoid rocking your body backward, as you want to focus on using your shoulder muscles and elbows to do the bulk of the work. Try and find a weight setting that will allow you to do between 10-15 reps.
<h2> 4. Bent-Over Dumbbell Alternating Row
Grab a pair of dumbbells, one for each hand, and bend your knees. Lean forward slightly at the hips. Don’t be hunched over. Keep your spine neutral. From here, tighten your core, keep your head straight (don’t look down!) and move one of the dumbbells up near your side and past your back. Your elbow will be sticking out straight behind you. Pause for a moment and then lower your arm back into the starting position.
While this movement looks simple, it provides a great workout to your chest, arms, trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, as well as your shoulders and the middle of your back. Not bad!
Make sure the weights aren’t too heavy. You want to be able to do at least 10 reps.
<h2> 5. Pull-Ups
Let’s just say it: pull-ups aren’t well loved.
Perhaps too many people recall the agony of having to do them in front of their entire gym class in middle school. And for many of us, we weren’t able to do too many (if any at all!). But your gym teacher was onto something, pull-ups are one of the best exercises for your back and shoulders!
Step up to the bar and grab it with your palms facing away from you. Your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width. You want to keep your head facing forward throughout. All right, ready to rock?
Pull through the elbows as you lift yourself up and clear the bar with your chin. Then lower yourself back down until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. As much as you can, don’t use your legs to swing and boost you up further. This is all about working out your shoulders and back.
If you can’t do a pull-up right away, don’t worry! We’ve got an alternative that can help you get there. Try stepping on a box with your head already raised above the bar. Then bend your knees and slowly lower yourself down. Do a couple reps. Try this variation at the gym a few times until you feel ready to perform a pull-up unassisted. Don’t worry, pull-ups are hard but not impossible. You’ll get there!
And that’s it! These five moves will help you start building strength in your back and shoulders in no time. Check out our blog for other awesome workouts!
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