Bringing sexy back
HEALTH AND FITNESS: GLENN MAINWARING
Our Glenn is back, and he’s bringing sexy back. It might be harder to see the immediate benefits that come from training those out of sight body parts, but getting a strong back will help your posture and boost your strength to build up all over.
Some of us go to the gym for a range of different reasons. Keeping fit and healthy is the priority for most while others keep up the regime in order to maintain that hard-earned muscles mass. If that works for you, keep it up! Just make sure you have a good balance in your training schedule.
I like to think I sit somewhere in between. I enjoy keeping physically fit through regular cardio but also have a good weight training plan to keep me strong and looking good.
I’ve noticed some guys only focus on those visible muscle groups (chest, arms, shoulders) in order to look good in their tight tops.
With this in mind, it’s easy to forget about your back - the last frontier in all-round fitness. For some it’s an afterthought - not easily visible in the mirror so out of sight, out of mind?
I want to emphasise though just how important it is, as well as sexy, to work your entire body – including the back. Don’t forget, building yourself a strong back will not only help your posture but will boost your strength to help build up the rest of you. Put it simply, you’ll be able to lift more and do more with a strong back.
There are many back muscles which can be targeted across a range of exercises, including the trapezius (traps), latissimus dorsi (lats), levator scapulae, and rhomboid minor and major. Working them equally along with other muscle groups will benefit you as a whole, keep you stay in balance and away from injury.
So here are my top exercises for, as Justin Timberlake once said, bringing sexy back - all without the need for an expensive gym membership. Let’s turn that baby back fat into thick muscle wings.
Quadruped alternate arm and leg raise
Also known as the bird-dog, this is a great all-body warm-up and core and spinal stabilization exercise. It also works to help lower back pain. It has shown to be an effective movement to reinforce proper spinal alignment and core recruitment.
Get down on the floor on your hands and knees.
The hands should be directly beneath the shoulders. The knees directly beneath the hips.
While maintaining a neutral spine and with stomach in, extend one leg out and lift the opposite arm forward until they are in line with the body.
The goal is to resist rotation and extension forces that attempt to destabilize your spine.
Return to the starting position and repeat up to ten times, and then switch sides.
If it gets too easy, there are a range of variations, including doing it on a bench to challenge your stability, or with a weight on your back to restrict any twisting or rotational movements during the exercise. Alternatively, you can do it while holding light dumbells in your hands (or ankle weights).
Traditional pull-ups are a compound exercise which work a large number of muscles in your back, shoulders and arms at the same time. If you can do them well, they will promote substantial strength and mass building. Find a bar in a local park, or else purchase one online for use in a doorway at home.
Grasp a sturdy bar with a firm overhand grip (palms facing forward away from you).
Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart.
With arms straightened, allow your body to hang from bar, bend elbows and pull yourself up so your chest nearly touches the bar and your chin is over the bar. Focus on keeping your body straight without swinging or arching.
Slowly lower yourself to start while maintaining a smooth movement throughout.
While you perform pull-ups, you can either bend your knees and cross your feet or keep your legs straightened provided your feet don't touch the floor.
Another good tip is not to relax your muscles too much in the initial position as this can place a great deal of stress on your shoulders joints. Wider-grip pull-ups are great for emphasizing the lats.
Also called the ‘bodyweight’ row, this is a great exercise for the back without putting unnecessary stress on it (like you can with a barbell row).
An inverted row works your back, biceps, traps, core and all the stabilizer muscles in between.
1. Take a wider than shoulder width grip on the bar and position yourself hanging underneath the bar.
2. Your body should be straight with your heels on the ground with your arms fully extended. This will be your starting position.
3. Begin by flexing the elbow, pulling your chest up towards the bar.
4. Don’t let your butt sag and pull up to to the middle area of your chest. Pull your shoulder blades together as you perform the movement.
5. Pause at the top of the motion, and return yourself to the start position.
If it’s too difficult at first, set the bar higher if you can, so that when you lean back, your body isn’t down on the ground. Having the bar higher and your body higher will take more of your body weight out of the equation. As you get stronger you’ll be able to drop the bar until you’re parallel when pulling yourself up. Aim for 3 sets of 10.
All exercises should be performed in perfect form because bad form or habits you start now will continue and will lead to lack of progress or worse, an injury in the future.
Push yourself to do as many inverted rows as you can in a minute and make a note of that number every time. Watch as that number and your wings grow!
Follow Glenn Mainwaring on Instagram: @gmainwaring #majorfit