The American Council on Exercise sponsored research into how to efficiently and effectively train back muscles.
Understanding the functions of all the back muscles is complex, but training them doesn’t have to be. Back muscles help us do everything from stand up straight and open doors to rotate the upper body to throw a baseball or hit a golf ball. Strengthening your back muscles can also help reduce some types of back pain.
These muscles have a variety of different functions and help your body move in different angles and directions. This is why fitness facilities typically have an array of machines (for example, lat pull down and back extension machines), as well as pull up bars and free weights, which can be used to train the numerous muscles and movements of the back .
[Read: Your Guide to Creating an At-Home Gym You’ll Actually Use.]
Overview of the back muscles
Of course, no one has the time to spend all day at the gym doing exercises to work every single muscle in their back, which is why the American Council on Exercise sponsored research into figuring out how to train your back muscles efficiently and effectively. .
The study focused on five muscles: the middle trapezius, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, and erector spinae. The idea was to evaluate muscles from the upper to lower back. Here’s a quick rundown of the functions of each of these muscles:
— Middle trapezius. This muscle helps pull the shoulder blades together to maintain an upright posture.
— Lower trapezius. This muscle is used to pull the shoulder blades down from a raised position and stabilize the shoulder blades during arm movements.
— Latissimus dorsi. You use this muscle to extend and rotate your arms towards your body. The latissimus dorsi, sometimes called the “lats,” also aids in deep breathing.
— infraspinatus. This muscle pulls the arm away from the body and stabilizes the shoulder joint.
— Spinal erector. Bending to the side and maintaining an upright posture uses this muscle.
[See: 5 Bodyweight Exercises to Fix Your Posture.]
The researchers asked the participants to perform the following exercises by measuring the intensity of work of each muscle.
– Lowering of the back
– Row seated
— Rower bent
– Inverted line
— Pull up
– On the chin
— TRX row
– IYT relaunch
If you only have time to do one back exercise in a workout, the bent-over row is your best option. The study showed that this exercise worked the hardest on three of the five back muscles (middle trapezius, infraspinatus, and erector spinae) and was the second-best option for the other two lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles).
The study found the second-best back exercise to be the IYT lift, which also effectively targeted all five muscles tested. Chin-ups and pull-ups specifically target the latissimus dorsi.
In total, these findings reveal the need for a variety of exercises to effectively train the entire back, but also show how multiple muscles can be targeted by a single, well-chosen movement.
[READ: 7 Best Yoga Poses for Strength Training.]
Example of a back workout
One approach to organizing a resistance training program is to aim to pull muscles — the back muscles and the biceps — on the same day. The following is a sample upper body pull workout that you can integrate into your overall workout plan. This workout combines the exercises from this study with a variety of bicep exercises to create a fun, challenging, and effective workout. It is organized into three blocks, each of which should be completed independently. To complete this training plan, follow these steps:
— Complete eight to 15 reps of each exercise in each set.
— Complete both exercises in each block with little or no rest between exercises.
— Perform one to four sets of both exercises in each block, depending on your goals and fitness level.
— Rest up to two minutes after each pair of exercises. For example, in block 1, you’ll do one set for each bent over row and concentration curls, rest for up to two minutes, then either do additional sets of these two exercises or progress to block 2.
— Complete this workout two to three days a week.
An appropriate amount of weight or resistance should allow you to complete at least eight repetitions but no more than 15 before reaching fatigue at the end of each.
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The best exercises to strengthen the back originally appeared on www.usnews.com
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