In the wonderful world of working out, there are definitely certain body parts that are constantly getting all the love. Glutes and triceps seem to be our main focus (heck, we’ll even wail on our pecs every now and again), but there’s one huge area that seems to always be neglected. Yup, we’re talking about our backs. The funny thing is, our back is literally what holds us up and helps keep our core in place and our posture right. We’re not saying you should ditch all those booty exercises, but it’s time our backs get in on all the action.
Seriously though, why do we seem to ignore our backs when we work out? The short answer is we aren’t looking at our backs everyday, so it’s easy to forget about it. It’s time we fixed that, because building up muscle in your back can also help burn fat, increase resting metabolic weight (the number of calories that your body burns at rest), and reduce risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Try out these five exercises to get started.
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.
- 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.3
- Rise back to the start position and do one to two sets of 15 repetitions each. Switch arms and repeat.
Next Up: Dumbbell one-point row
Originally posted February 2012. Updated October 2017.