You consider yourself an active person, a lover of all things fitness. In fact, you might even be a regular at the gym. But, for no apparent reason, you haven’t paid that much attention to training your back. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.
From time to time, many of us tend to neglect the spinal area during workouts. To pay this zone the attention it deserves you can take your back out on a challenge, like this one here, for example. But better yet, learn the benefits of a strong core first:
What are the benefits of a strong back?
The area that stretches from the top of your bottom to the back of your neck and shoulders is our body’s foundation. And in order to improve your fitness performance it is vital that you target this particular area because:
1. If you engage in fitness training or take up running while having a weak and disengaged back, this alone may increase your risk of sports injuries. Besides, it may lead to protrusion, hernias, and other health issues.
2. A strong core is essential if you want to witness your own progress in the gym or elsewhere.
3. Strengthening core muscles helps alleviate upper and lower back pain.
4. It’s not just the back. Other organs, like your head, neck, legs, hips and even feet, are all affected by your back’s performance. By focusing on your spine’s training you give these limbs protection and a strong support to lean on.
5. By training the core, you will eventually get better at squats, lifting weights, crunches and other exercises.
6. A strong back means a more upright posture which will definitely affect the way you walk. You will do it more confidently holding your head high. So, it’s not just about the gym gains.
Exercises for building a strong core:
1. Bridge with Leg Extension
Benefits: works core muscles, including abs, back and leg muscles.
Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat. Press into your right foot for support and extend your left leg and your torso keeping your head and shoulders on the mat. Don’t arch your back and keep your spine still. Bend your left knee while still lifting your torso. Now get back to the starting position. Repeat alternating legs.
2. Airplane Lifts
Benefits: helps work muscles of both upper and lower back, and shoulders.
Lie on your stomach with you arms stretched out like an airplane. Lift your arms about 2 inches together with your head, neck and shoulders, gently arching your lower back. Then reach your arms back to your hips while your head, neck and shoulders remain in the same position. Return your arms to the starting position and lower your torso. Repeat again.
3. Plank Knee Drop
Benefits: fully engages your core, helps improve posture.
Instructions: Get down on all fours, then slowly crawl into a plank position. While you’re planking engage your entire body, particularly try to focus on your core. You can lift your back just a tiny bit in order to maintain this position. Inhale and drop your knees to the ground while still keeping your back straight. Exhale and go back to the plank pose. Repeat.
4. Superman Lifts
Benefits: helps strengthen both upper and lower back muscles and alleviates back pain.
Lie face down on your stomach with arms extended straight in front of you. Turn your palms facing downward and let them rest on the floor. Arch your back and lift your straight arms and legs off the floor as high as you can. Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat.
5. Press-up Back Extension
Benefits: stretches back muscles and reduces the risk of injury.
Lie down on your stomach with your legs straight. Bend your arms, put your palms on the floor and support your upper body with your forearms. Keeping your stomach and hips on the floor, press up with your forearms and try to extend your arms all the way. Hold this position from 5 to 30 seconds, then lower yourself down to the starting position and repeat the exercise.
6. Bird Dog
Benefits: improves lower back function and spine stability.
Get down on all fours, placing your knees hip-width apart and your hands right under your shoulders. Pull your belly in and try to hold your back and neck straight. Keeping your hips even, extend your right arm forward and left leg backward. Don’t arch your lower back. Hold your body in line for a couple of seconds, then return to the starting position, swap sides and repeat the exercise.