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Body Weight Exercises for Back

Body Weight Exercises for Back: Significance

Your back takes a beating every day – and deserves your care and attention. A strong back is a healthy back. Aesthetics aside, there are many small back muscles that support your spine and those that play a role in proper posture. You can work those at the same time as you are training the larger muscles with body weight exercises and/or isolate them with specific exercises that also involve your core, such as bird-dogs.

While there are dozens of effective body weight exercises to work your upper, mid and lower back muscles, you don’t want to spend your whole workout concentrating on one area of the body. Workout smarter and harder, not necessarily longer, for best results.

Body Weight Exercises for Back: Specifics

Bodmodified supermany weight exercises give you opportunity to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Work your upper back by squeezing your shoulder blades together during slow incline push ups, or the muscles that line your spine by doing alternating leg raises while performing a plank. Or alternate a standard plank with a superman.

For the following body weight exercises, you’ll need access to a bar, railing or even the jungle-gym at your local park. Be creative. Today’s jungle-gyms have platforms of varying heights, for more flexibility with your exercise choices. Performing a standard pull up (all variations) is an excellent exercise, but very difficult for most women that at first (without assistance and/or a partner). What do you do if you are working out alone or do not have a band to off-set some of your body weight? Try a self-assisted pull-up or a body row (technically an inverted row) instead. The emphasis is on your posterior deltoids and latissimus dorsi (upper back). The greater the incliStretch carefully after doing body weight back exercisesne or the less assistance you allow yourself, the harder the body weight exercises will be.

Body weight exercises: introduction

Body weight exercises use your own weight as resistance instead of equipment that provides ‘external’ resistance, such as dumbbells. However, you can always add resistance to make these moves more challenging. In general, body weight exercises are effective, fun, require little to no fancy exercise equipment and can be tweaked to challenge beginner to advanced exercisers. You probably already are familiar with many classic body weight moves already: military-style push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, forward and backward lunges, squats, step ups and the like. However, there are endless variations to these standard exercises – probably more options than you can imagine.

Choosing Body Weight Exercises

What do you need to know, or keep in mind when choosing which body weight exercises to include in your strength training routine? Consider ‘compound’ exercises, or those that work multiple muscle groups versus those that isolate specific muscles, unless you have a lot of time to devote to exercise. Choose moves that work all major muscle groups, if possible (eight to twelve exercises).

Select moves that aid in stabilization (balance), strength (building muscle) and power (explosive movements such as jumps) for the ultimate challenge. Keep in mind that ‘power’ moves may be too advanced for novice exercisers. There are body weight exercises that are double-duty moves: they improve your balance AND enhance strength. Summertime is a great season to shake up your routine. Many body weight exercises for the upper, lower body and core can be done outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the weather and watch your kids while building a stronger body. If you have access to a playground, all the better. You need a platform, rack or bar to ‘pull’ towards and ‘push’ from. This is just an introduction to this series. In subsequent articles, you’ll learn unconventional, effective body weight exercises to add to your ‘library’ for different muscle groups.

NOTE: before initiating any exercise routine (especially on your own), get clearance from your doctor. This is a general, informational series. All exercises are NOT appropriate for all individuals. If you have back problems/knee pain or injuries, you should seek personal, professional advice on designing an appropriate routine with your specific needs in mind!


Fitness Trends for 2013: Topping the list…

Every year, major organizations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, conduct worldwide surveys of fitness trends to predict the upcoming year’s most significant fitness elements, not only ‘FYI’ but to aid consumers, industry professionals and retailers (of sports and exercise equipment). Just because a category of exercise or a fitness trend is considered to be ‘out of vogue’ for this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to do it. The best indicators of whether you will be successful and adhere to a particular exercise program are how quickly you see results (and how impressive they are) and whether or not you enjoy the activity. So regardless of this year’s fitness trends, always stick with what works for you.

Top Fitness Trends: Back to Basics and Group Personal Training

What fitness trends are ‘out’ and what are ‘in’ for 2013? One of the biggest fitness trends for this year is ‘going back to the basics.’ Pilates and ‘Zumba’ classes, while once all the rage, are no longer considered to be ‘hot trends’ (do not appear on the ‘top 10  fitness trends list for 2013).

So, what are the ‘basics?’ Good, common sense high-intensity aerobic exercise combined with basic resistance training moves is effective, takes less time and is cheaper, particularly if you perform body-weight training exercises (making the fitness trends list for the first time at #3).

Fitness trends for 2013 that also made the top 10 list include small group personal training and programs that combine exercise with calorie-restricted diets. Small group training offers several benefits that make it worth considering. By training four individuals (if similar fitness levels) simultaneously, each participant pays 25 percent of what one person would pay, making it more appealing cost-wise. The trainer makes money without sacrificing on quality, and the participants obtain similar or even better results.

Other Fitness Trends: Out with the new and in with the old?

Once a staple of any strength training routine, classic body weight training exercises have made a huge comeback, forcing newer sensations, such as Zumba, to take a back seat. Why? Because they are effective and do not require expensive equipment, accessories or a significant learning curve. Exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges and even plyometric jumps benefit exercisers of all levels without busting the budget (think boot camp-style workouts).

While some old classics are making a comeback, newer fitness trends, such as TRX suspension training, are only getting hotter.