05-22-2014

My Top Back Exercises

It’s t-shirt and tank top season – which means it’s time to work those back muscles! Working my back is one of my favorite things to do. I always feel really strong while doing back exercises, and it’s a major muscle group which means you’re burning even more calories. I wanted to list out my favorite back exercises, in case you want to add some to your routine. Even if you’re already doing most of these, remember you can switch up your routine bu changing how many sets or reps you do, and increasing the weight you use.

Single Arm Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

Bent-RowSource

This is definitely my favorite. I love doing single arm exercises because you can focus on one side, and also strengthen any weaknesses you may have on one side. Start with whatever side you think you’re weaker on. Focus on keeping your core tight and your back flat. Also focus on squeezing your shoulder blade as you pull up…engage that muscle!

T-Bar Row

t-bar_rows copybigSource

I only really started doing T-Bar rows when I started the Get Swole program, but I love them. Talk about a full-body exercise! You’re really working your core and lower back because you’re lifting the weight while in a bent-over position. If you’re lower back hurts as you are pulling up, the weight is too heavy for you. Always remember to keep a flat back and core engaged. A good cue I give people during any exercise is chest up, shoulders back.

Seated Cable Row

Intense-20-Minute-Back-Workout-Seated-Cable-RowsSource

Another great back exercise that will have you out of breath. Once again you will be using your core to stabilize yourself. As always, remember, CHEST UP SHOULDERS BACK! ;) Also, make sure your shoulders aren’t up by your ears. Relax your traps. Don’t lean back either as you pull it in. Stay in a neutral position. If you have to lean back, it’s too heavy for you.

Inverted Row

modified-rowSource

The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it anywhere. You can use the smith machine bar, or any barbell, or you can use a ramp railing (which is what I usually do at the gym). Engage your core and don’t let your hips sag or go up too far (so that you have an arch in your back).

Pull-Ups

How could I not include this??? Pull-ups are a full body strength exercise, and I’m still working on bringing back my strength so I can do unassisted pull-ups. In the meantime, I’m focusing on the assisted pull-up machine and band assisted pull-ups, which is the picture below:

Band-Assisted-Pull-upSource

As you get stronger, you’ll be able to use thinner and thinner bands. Plus, using a band works your core as well because you need to use it in order to not swing forward as you pull up.

Single Arm Cable Pull Down

Single Arm Pull DownSource

We covered a lot of horizontal pull exercises, so we need some vertical pull in here too. I like doing single arm cable pulls because, as I mentioned with the single arm rows, you’re focusing on each arm at a time, which makes it a bit tougher than using both arms on something like a lat pull down. I like to do these sitting or standing. Pull with force, and then slowly  let it go. This exercise will also help you get stronger with your pull ups.

Here re two chest and back workouts using some of the above exercises. I like combining chest and back because they are opposing muscle groups. I prefer body split routines like this as opposed to full body, which I explained in this post about the benefits of both full body routines and body split routines.

Do one of the workouts for 3 weeks, then switch to the other one. This will help avoid plateau, and help you get stronger!

Feel free to change up any of the exercises, or how many sets/reps you do…this just serves as a starting point :)

chest-and-back-workout

Let me know if you try it out!

Do you like doing back exercises? Which are your favorite?

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02-26-2014

Chest and Back Gym Workout

When I was thinking of what my next workout video should be, I decided I wanted to do a gym workout. Most of my videos you can do at-home, and with little to no equipment. But I know some of you like working out at the gym, like I do.

chest and back workout

Here is my chest and back workout for you. In the next week or so, I plan on uploading a leg workout so that you can pair the two and do each workout 1-2x per week.

Instructions

As I mention in the video, you want to do the A1 and A2 exercises 3 times before moving on. So you’ll do bench press and pull-ups for 1 set, take a 30-45 second break, then do another set of bench press and pull-ups, take a 30-45 second break, another set, and THEN move on to B1 and B2 exercises.

If your gym is set up so that bench press is really far away from pull-ups, it’s ok to switch to another back exercises, or do all 3 sets of the bench press, then all 3 sets of pull-ups before moving on. But ideally, you’ll do A1, A2 three times, then move on, etc.

You can watch the video and pause after each exercise so that you hear the cues, or you can take my printable with you to the gym!

Sets and Reps

It’s 3 sets of 12 reps for everything, so find a good weight for you to complete those reps. It should be a weight that is challenging in those last 2-3 reps. If you finish and feel like you could do more, then increase your weight. If you increase and can’t complete the reps, just lower back down to another weight and complete the set…nothing wrong with that!

Make sure you record your weights so that you can track your progress. Each week, try to increase your weight by a tiny bit. In 4 weeks, I’ll upload another chest and back workout so you can switch it up.

Here’s the video:

Let me know if you try it!

What are your favorite chest and back exercises?

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