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5 simple back exercises that give new meaning to 'bringing sexy back'

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

The best back workouts and why they are just as important a leg day

The back may be the easiest part of the body to overlook when you start a new workout routine. For women, it makes sense. Many of us forget to "watch our backs" when training because we worry about that big fitness myth that is so hard to squash  — the idea that lifting too many weights can make you look bulky instead of lean.

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. Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and co-creator of the PreGame Fit fitness/lifestyle program, explains, "Weightlifting isn’t just for men. Lifting weights will help you burn fat and increase your resting metabolic weight (the number of calories that your body burns at rest!). Lifting weights is also proven to reduce your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis!"

More: Being a muscular women (unfortunately) puts a target on your back

Here are five back exercises adapted from Shuler's 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.

The best back workouts and why they are just as important a leg day
Image: Tiffany Egbert/SheKnows

1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.3
  3. Rise back to the start position and do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each. Switch arms and repeat.

"This move is effective because it works multiple muscles at once. You can get more bang for your buck! It tones your upper back and shoulder area and even works your core -- bonus!" Marks advises, "Be sure to keep you belly button drawn into your spine the entire time to engage your core. Don’t let your knees go past your toes when you squat."

Next Up: Dumbbell one-point row

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