Eight moves to banish bra bulge, back pain, and bad posture
A strong, toned back does more than allow you to look your best in the most revealing dresses. It's also a key to perfect posture and preventing back pain—a problem that affects more than 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. These exercises target your entire backside and your core to help counteract "computer back" and build a posterior that turns heads.
Strengthen all the muscles that surround your spine, along with your abs, glutes, and hamstrings with this super-efficient exercise.
Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and hold them at arm's length in front of your thighs. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your knees, brace your core and bend at your hips, lowering your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. As you lower the weight, keep the dumbbells as close to your body as possible. Pause, then raise your torso back to the starting position.
Split Stance Extension
Target your entire backside and challenge your balance with this bodyweight move.
Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent, hands behind your head. Shift your weight into your right leg as you step your left foot about 3 feet behind you, only touching your left toes to the floor for balance.
Draw your abs in tight and and bend at your hips, lowering your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Slowly return to standing, keeping your back naturally arched throughout the entire movement. Do 8 reps and then switch legs and repeat.
Alternating Dumbbell Row
Alternating arms allows you to work each side of your body separately, which helps bolster muscle imbalances and forces your core to work even harder.
Grab a pair of dumbbells with an underhand grip (palms facing away from your body), and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Your lower back should be naturally arched. Keeping your abs in tight, bend your left elbow and pull the weight to the side of your torso. Slowly lower your left arm as you bend your right elbow and perform a row on the other side. That’s one rep. Continue alternating until you've completed 15 reps total.
Bow and Arrow
This dynamic moves targets the muscles in your upper back to help you stand tall and straight, not hunched over. You can perform this exercise using dumbbells (as shown) or with a resistance band or cable machine to really feel your upper-back muscles working.
Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip (or anchor a resistance band) and stand with your feet together. Brace your abs in tight and extend your arms out in front of your chest, palms facing in. Pull your shoulders down and back and keep them there during the entire movement. Bend your left elbow and pull your arm behind you (as if aiming a bow and arrow). Imagine that you're squeezing a lemon between your shoulder blades. Extend your left arm and bend and pull your right arm back. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 times total.
Kneeling Rear Fly
You may need to use a lighter weight for this challenging move that works the muscles in your middle and upper back.
Grab a pair of dumbbells and kneel on the floor with your hands below your shoulders, palms facing in, and your knees below your hips. Raise your left arm straight out to the side (your arms should be slightly bent). Focus on squeezing your left shoulder blade in closer to your spine. Hold for 1 count, then slowly lower to the starting position. That's one rep. Complete 15 reps with your left arm, and then switch to your right arm.
Opposite Arm and Leg Balance
This static hold, also known as Bird Dog, tones your entire backside while also engaging your core muscles.
Get down on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be bent 90 degrees. Brace your abs in tight to your spine and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body. Hold for 10 counts. Return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. That's one rep. Do 3 reps total.
Spine extensions can help prevent back pain by counteracting the forward, flexed position in which many people spend most of their time. You may want to lie on a mat or carpet for this exercise.
Lie facedown on the floor with your legs straight, toes pointed, and your arms next to your sides, palms down. Contract your glutes and the muscles in your lower back, and raise your shoulders, chest, and arms off the floor. Keep your chin slightly tucked into your chest and rotate your arms so that your thumbs point towards the ceiling, pulling your shoulder blades back and together. Hold for 2-3 counts and slowly lower back to the floor. That's one rep. Complete 15 reps total.
This bridge variation engages your entire body, with an extra emphasis on your backside.
Lie faceup with your legs straight and hip-width apart, feet flexed. Bend your arms in by your sides and press your elbows into the ground. Engage your abs, squeeze your shoulder blades down and together, and press down with your arms to lift your hips as high off the floor as you can. Hold for 1 count and then slowly return to the starting position. That's one rep. Complete 15 reps total.
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