Strengthening the back muscles is as important as ‘carving’ out the abs, biceps, triceps, etc. These muscles are subjected to stress throughout the day as one performs the routine tasks. The upper back muscles bear the weight of the head and the shoulders. The sedentary lifestyle that we have today takes a heavy toll on our body. Spending long hours in front of the computer screen, lack of exercise, and continuous traveling affects the body posture. It also weakens the muscles owing to lack of enough movement and stretching.
Strong back muscles help maintain the spinal cord in perfect shape. The workouts used to shape and strengthen the upper portion of the back fall under categories such as pull-ups & pull-downs, rows, and pullovers.
Pull-downs and Pull-ups
The pull-up exercise is performed with the help of an overhead fixed bar. One has to grip the bar with palms facing forwards, and suspend the body by means of the extended arms. In this back exercise, the body is lifted until the face is raised above the bars and lowered thereafter. The exercise works up the muscles of the upper back to a great extent. There are three different types of pull-up exercises. The aforementioned method is the Standard pull-up. The next type of pull-up is Behind-the-neck-pull-up. In this exercise, the face isn’t raised above the bar; however, the neck touches the bar. The third type is the Weighted pull-up in which a weight is attached to the body with the help of a dipping belt.
Pull-down, as the name suggests, involves pulling down a weight in order to strengthen the lats. In this exercise, a bar attached to a pulley loaded with weights is pulled down.
In this exercise, the hands move to-and-fro, with the movement resembling the rowing of a boat. The exercise is generally performed with the help of dumbbells.
The dumbbell rows are performed by kneeling down. If one is using the right hand to hold the dumbbell, the left leg should be knelt on a platform or a table. The left hand should rest on the platform. The right foot rests on the floor with a slight bent in the knees. The dumbbell is lifted by the right hand and pulled to the sides until it touches the ribs. Then it has to be lowered back to the original position, i.e., to the floor.
The pullover exercise is considered to be the best form of exercise to strengthen the latissimus dorsi (muscles of the back). It gives a good exercise to the lats; however, the chest is also exercised with this workout. This exercise is used as a transitional exercise between the upper back exercise and the chest exercise.
Shoulder stretching provides a good exercise to the shoulders, as well as the upper portion of the back. The exercises such as Suryanamaskar, which come under the category of yoga, stretch the back muscles and relieve them of stress. The half spinal twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana is also used to strengthen the upper back along with the spinal cord.
The upper back workouts are necessary for those who want to build up muscles. These also help support the spinal cord, thereby improving one’s posture and overall health.