Categorized as: Ray’s Exercise Tips

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles

In this blog “exercises that strengthen back muscles”. As your personal trainer I will be taking you on a journey to educate and inform you with my preferred selection of back strengthening exercises, these exercises contain in-depth descriptions of technique as well as advisable repetitions and sets. So why is it so important to strengthen your back? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and safe work Australia, back injuries account for one of every five injuries and illnesses in the workplace[1]. Eighty percent of these injuries occur to the lower back and are associated with manual materials handling tasks.[2]

 

As a result of this, one of the largest emerging trends is the development of ergonomically friendly furniture and lifestyle companies appearing around all the major cities. Now, the question has to be asked, is the issue of muscular weakness being addressed through appropriate exercise information? Or is it simply being avoided through costly temporary solutions that sustain continuous muscular weakness in the individual?

Regardless, we have a choice to get active, get mobile and get stronger. With the exercises I’m about to illustrate, you will have available an extensive archive of exercises to turn to at any time in your life. These exercises, if done correctly, will reduce back injuries, strengthen lower back for better quality of life and help you to further understand the crucial nature of incorporating back exercises into your training routine.

 Beginner level

 Exercise – Hyper extension

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extensionExercises that Strengthen back muscles - Hyper extension

This exercise is performed on the hyper-extension bench, hands crossed over and legs locked and pushing against the pads. Begin by pivoting  from the hips while pushing your gluteus out.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

15 slow repetitions (4010) for 3 sets with 90-second recovery time.

Exercise – Hyper extension with upper thoracic retraction

DSC02298DSC02299

This exercise is performed with your arms straight, then as you extend upwards draw your elbows back and push your chest out while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Keep your legs straight and rigid, pivoting only at the hips.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

15 repetitions (32X0) for 3 sets with 90-second recovery time

Exercise – Hyper extension with medicine ball

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with med ballExercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with med ball

This exercise is performed with a medicine ball of whichever weight you are comfortable with. Grasping the medicine ball with arms outstretched, begin by extending upwards and drawing the medicine ball in to your sternum. The idea behind this is that the further extended your arms are the greater the recruitment in your lower back.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

12 repetitions (4010) for 3 sets with 90-second recovery time.

Intermediate Level

Exercise – Hyper extension with dumbbell – retract and raise

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with dumbbell retract and raise  Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with dumbbell retract and raiseExercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with dumbbell retract and raise

This exercise is performed with a pair of dumbbells at a weight you are comfortable with. Grasp the dumbbells with straight arms at the bottom range as seen here on the right. Retract scapulae in one motion, then in the second draw your body up and rotate the dumbbells so that they are neutral at your waist at the point your back is fully extended upwards. Remember to keep your legs straight.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

10 repetitions (6010) for 4 sets with 90-second recovery time.

 

Exercise – Hyper extension with barbell – retract and raise

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with barbell retract and raiseExercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with barbell retract and raise

This exercise is performed with a straight bar at a weight you are comfortable with. Grasp the bar on the ground with your arms straight in a wide grip, pushing your glutes out and chest proud. Retract your scapulae then explode up engaging your lower back and glutes. Ensure you don’t engage your upper trapezius muscle and remember to keep your legs straight.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

15  repetitions (30X0) for 4 sets with 90-second recovery time.

Exercise – Hyper extension with barbell

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with barbell Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Hyper extension with barbell

This exercise is performed with a straight bar at a weight you are comfortable with. Place the bar on your middle trapezius, which is the thickest part of your upper back (make sure it is not resting on your vertebrae). With your chest proud, lower your trunk, focusing on pushing your glutes out. Your depth can be as low as possible without the bar riding onto your neck.

It is important to not let the bar rest on your neck – seek professional assistance for perfecting this technique if you are having difficulty

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

10  repetitions (4210) for 3 sets with 90-second recovery time.

 Advance Level

Exercise -Static Horizontal hold with retraction

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles-Static horizontal hold

This is a time-based exercise, requiring you to engage your glutes, push your calves into the pads and retract your shoulder blades. The machine in this image is known as the glute/ham machine .

Recommended Time x Sets x Rest

(60-second hold) for 3 sets with 60-second recovery time.

Exercise -Static Horizontal hold with retraction and thera band

 

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles-horizontal hold with retraction and thera bandExercises that Strengthen back muscles-horizontal hold with retraction and thera band

This is a time-based exercise, requiring you to engage your glutes, push your calves into the pads and retract your shoulder blades. Place the Theraband in the hooks provided or secure it down with weight plates. At the maximum set point hold and sustain the Theraband, squeezing all posterior muscles.

Recommended Time x Sets x Rest

(60-second hold) for 3 sets with 60-second recovery time.

 Exercise -Glute/ham machine with Barbell retract and raise

Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Glute/ham machine with barbell retract and raise Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Glute/ham machine with barbell retract and raise Exercises that Strengthen back muscles- Glute/ham machine with barbell retract and raise

Begin with the arms outstretched holding the barbell in as wide a grip as you can manage, retract your lower scapulae then extend up, squeezing all the posterior muscles.

Recommended Reps x Sets x Rest

 

15 reps 42X0 for 4 sets 60-seconds recovery .

For those that may need to begin first with lower back rehabilitation, or  haven’t the exercise equipment available.

Visit this link from Physio advisor

You can also listen to Peter O sullivan whom is a key note speaker about back pain.

 

[1] Safe work Australia (2012) http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/677/Key_Work_Health_and_Safety_Statistics_Australia_2012.pdf

[2] http://ehs.virginia.edu/ehs/ehs.ergo/ergo.back.html

 

Preparing to Squat Like a Professional – Part 1

Every fitness enthusiast requires an arsenal of stretches and mobilisation exercises that should be implemented pre exercise, this ultimately help’s to engage in correct technique and prevent over compensation and injury from occurring.

In the series of posts to follow you will discover my key stretches and mobilization exercises, as well as detailed steps of how to and why I have selected them to perfect my personal squat.

 

Preparing to squat- Part 1

 

Thoracic mobilization on hard roller

 

Why this is important to me: Due to my slightly tight thoracic spine from my work environment (observing clients from a standing position looking down and writing into their personal programs). I find that thoracic stretches are of vital importance for my upper torso to both retract my scapulae and engage my core.

 

How is the exercise or stretch performed?

  1. Position 1: lower thoracic at the base of the S- curve position the foam roller, place chin to chest and hands rested on the back of your head. Begin by stretching the thoracic spines without lifting your chin off your chest, then draw in using your core and flexor chain (flexor chain- muscles from abdominals to neck).
  2. Position 2: At the Mid thoracic spine position the foam roller, place chin to chest and hands rested on the back of your head. Repeat thoracic stretch as per position (1).
  3. Position 3: At the upper thoracic rest your hard roller on the upper Trapezius not the vertebrae of the neck. Repeat stretches as per Position (1)

 

Position 1

preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 1preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 1preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 1

 

Position 2

preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 2preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 2preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 2

 

Position 3

preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 3preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 3preparing to squat- Thoracic mobilisation position 3

 Recomended action

Perform Position (1-2-3) with 6 slow repetitions. With each repetition focus on drawing in your core when flexing, then exhale (breathe out) when hyper extending the spine to its maximum stretch without allowing the chin to come of the chest.

 

Here is a detailed you tube clip on thoracic mobilisation.

No “bull” bulking workout

I get asked by my clients “I want to bulk up my body over the next 3 months”! My understanding of the term “Bulking” along with my clients is often understood in the gym scene when you see a body that resembles both impressive mass and impressive strength.  Bulking programs change the body’s compositions of a bodybuilder in the offseason, to initially allow them to maximize the mass of their body to lift greater weight, up caloric intake and generally be a little more flexible with dieting. An ideal bulking body fat should often not exceed 14% if you are thinking about being a bodybuilder; the 14 % body fat recommendation is based on journal studies of testosterone levels in males.

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