5 Back Strengthening Exercises – To Improve the Way You Move in the Gym

Back Injuries in the Gym

Injury – The word alone is enough to strike fear into the heart of many.  Picture this…. you are in the middle of a 12-week transformation, setting personal goals and smashing them out the park, only to find yourself unexpectedly sidelined by an injury.

If you have ever experienced a back injury you know how they can really affect your performance in the gym.  Rather than throwing in the towel because of a little setback, we can take this time to analyse why the injury occurred in the first place and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Exercise 1 – Conventional Deadlift

The deadlift is a functional exercise that provides a carry over effect into your every day life.  When performed correctly with sound form the deadlift is one of the best exercises for strengthening the lower back.  This exercise activates the entire posterior chain, specifically the hamstrings, buttocks, lower back and upper back.

Step 1– Walk up to the bar and position yourself so your mid-foot is under the barbell and feet are shoulder width apart.

Step 2 – With your feet properly in position, reach down to grip the bar using either an overhand grip or alternating grip.

Step 3 – Lower your hips until your shins are parallel with the bar.

Step 4 – Engage your posterior chain by pulling your shoulders back and down (Ensure your back is not rounded). Take a deep breath and hold, as you push the floor away.

Step 5 – Push the floor away as you stand up with the weight.

Step 6 – Lock out at the top of the movement by driving your hips through and squeezing your gluteal muscles.

Exercise 2 – Seated Row

This exercise can be of great benefit to assist with strengthening the muscles that aid in correct posture.

Step 1 – Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the platform making sure your knees are slightly bent.

Step 2 – Maintaining a natural spine lean over and grab the handle.

Step 3 – Before you perform the row (flexion of the elbows) focus on pulling your shoulders down and back, engaging the smaller muscles between the shoulder blades.

Step 4 – Slightly arch your back as you lift your chest up.

Step 5 – Pull your shoulders back and down then pull towards your lower midsection and squeeze the muscles of your back.

Step 6 – Hold that contraction for 2 seconds and slowly go back to your original position.

Exercise 3 – Reverse Fly

This exercise supports the posterior shoulder and upper back.  Strength and development in the rear shoulders and thoracic spinal muscles improves your upper back posture, function and movement.

Step 1 – Set up your seat so your hips are in line with your knees and your feet are on the ground.

Step 2 – Set up the machine at chest height and ensure the handles are at shoulder level.

Step 3 – In a semicircular motion pull your hands out to each side and back, contracting your rear deltoids (posterior shoulder) and rhomboids.  Hold for 2 seconds then bring the handles back to center.

Exercise 4 – Banded Pull Apart

This exercise can be a substitute to the above Reverse Fly.  By using a resistance band your muscles are constantly under tension.

Step 1 – Standing feet shoulder width apart begin with your arms extended straight out in front of you, holding a resistance band in both hands.

Step 2 – Initiate the movement by performing a reverse fly motion (as pictured above) moving your hands out laterally to both sides.

Step 3 – Ensure you keep your elbows extended as you perform the movement, bringing the band to your chest.  Ensure that you keep your shoulders back during this exercise.

Step 4 – Hold for 2 seconds as you complete the exercise then return to the starting position while maintaining control.

Exercise 5 – 4 Point Banded Rotations

We spend most of our day siting down in a state of flexion.  Your thoracic spine in mainly responsible for rotational movements, so to help free up this area you want to be rotating as much as possible.  This exercise will assist in thoracic mobility.

Step 1 – Position yourself on the floor with your shoulders over wrists and hips over knees as pictured.

Step 2 – Anchor a resistance band as pictured and ensure there is tension in the band as you hold one end.

Step3 – Pull your arm through to the other side of your trunk from where you started.

Step 4  – Squeeze your elbow and shoulder backwards as you rotate up to the roof.

Ready to See a Physiotherapist?

Trained Physio & Fitness located in East Perth, has a special interest in diagnosing and recovering patients from back injuries due to training, poor lifting technique and surgery.  Book an appointment online today or call us for more information about how we can help you feel your best and get you back into the gym as soon as possible!

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