Regardless of your fitness level, it's easy to forget about what you can't see – your back. But you won’t get a celeb-worthy back with cardio alone. So step off the treadmill and head into the weight room to get a strong, sexy back that will rival Jessica Biel's.
Lift like a man, look like a goddess
In The New Rules of Lifting for Women, authors Lou Shuler, Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove want women to toss aside the myth that lifting heavy weights will lead to a bulky body. Their popular book teaches women to abandon what they call “the three dirty words”: toning, shaping and sculpting. Instead, they say, women should focus on lifting moderately heavy weights that will lead to a stronger body. A bonus? Increasing muscle mass will also boost your metabolism.
Here are five back exercises adapted from the book that will have your back ready in no time. Incorporate them into your workout two to three days of the week, along with additional exercises that target the rest of your body, for full-body strength and conditioning.
Dumbbell Single-Arm Overhead Squat
This is a full-body exercise that will make you feel strong from head to toe. You work your legs with the squat while targeting your upper and lower back with the overhead lift.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, one dumbbell weighing twice as much as the other (e.g., if one dumbbell is five pounds, the other should be 10 pounds). Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead.
Hold the light dumbbell overhead in your nondominant hand, with the heavier dumbbell between your legs, keeping both arms straight. Push your hips back and lower yourself until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor, holding the lighter dumbbell straight up over your shoulders, tightening the back of your shoulder and upper back muscles. Keep your abs pulled in tight.
Rise back to the start position and do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each. Switch arms and repeat.
Up next: More exercises for a sexy back >>
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