Getting ready for the backless fashions of Summer — hello halter tops — means it's time to tone the muscles of your back. And for this you will likely want to use the lat pull machine, which works your entire upper body. Watch this video to learn how to set up the machine and three ways to use it.
Having started her career as a ballerina, Zoe Saldana takes her workouts seriously. And the actress swears by The Moyer Method, created by trainer Steve Moyer. Her sculpted shoulders continue to wow us, so we asked Steve to share her upper-body workout with us. Watch the video to learn the four exercises, and then give them a try.
There's no miracle move to diminish the extra flesh that gathers at the waistline of your jeans; only calorie-burning cardio decreases body fat. But it's still important to strengthen and tone your back muscles, so as you begin to lose weight, chiseled lean muscles will be revealed. Here are five yoga poses recommended by exhale mind body spa to tone the back and sides of the body. This is truly a great core-strengthening workout. Press play to learn how to maximize the toning elements of these yoga poses.
You've heard it before, and it's true — all the time we spend sitting at our desks can affect our posture and can make us look heavier and shorter. Here are some exercises to incorporate into your routine to combat the hunch by balancing out your body.
Add this move to your arsenal and you'll be working your entire body while focusing on your posterior muscles — from your hamstrings and butt to your upper back. And the move doesn't require any special equipment, just a set of dumbbells, so it's easy to incorporate.
- Start by grabbing a set of five- to eight-pound dumbbells and standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumbbells by your side. Lift one leg back and tip your torso forward so you are balancing on the opposite leg.
- Once your body is parallel to the floor, your arms should be straight, facing the floor. Move your arms in a rowing motion by bending your elbows and pulling them back, pushing your shoulder blades together.
- Complete the row by extending your arms back down to the floor. Come back to standing position.
- Do two to three sets of 10 on each leg.
Photo: Jenny Sugar
This yoga pose, also called the Half Wheel, opens up your chest and shoulders while giving your muscles and spine a much-needed stretch. Check out more yoga poses for posture here!
- Begin lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, palms facing down. Bend your knees, placing your heels as close as you can to your butt.
- With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips up. Keep your palms on the mat or clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Or you can also bend your elbows and rest your hands on your lower back. If your feet are close enough, you can also hold your ankles.
- Stay here for five deep breaths, lifting your hips up as high as you can.
Keep reading for more ways to strengthen your back.
Despite what you might think, pull-ups are not impossible and can be adjusted for any fitness level. This infamous exercise offers a great upper-body workout that quickly tones the back, arms, and chest. Not only will it make you stronger, but conquering this move will also give an extra boost of confidence and help you feel like you can tackle anything — because let's face it, you can!
- Assisted Pull-Up Machine: The pull-up machine is a great way to try your first go at pull-ups. The machine uses counterbalance weights, which means the higher the weight you set the machine, the easier the exercise becomes. Start by setting the weight to 20 pounds less than your weight, complete three to five reps, and then adjust the weight accordingly. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use the assisted pull-up machine at your gym.
- Band Pull-Up: With the help of a superband — a giant, two-inch-thick rubber band — you can tackle consecutive pull-ups. All you have to do is wrap the rubber band securely around the pull-up bar, put it under one knee (or one foot for even more assistance), grab onto the bar (stepping off a stool if needed to reach), and begin your pull-up. Superbands are the same length, but the wider the band, the more assistance. Eventually, you will no longer be a "groupie" to the band and will be able to use your body weight!
- Jump Pull-Ups: Consider jump pull-ups (pull-ups with a jump start) the next level after the assisted pull-up machine. Standing under the bar, jump up to grab the bar, harnessing the momentum of the jump to pull your body and chin to the bar. If your chin doesn't come close to the bar, don't give up — this move often takes practice.
We tend to obsess about toning our abs, but strengthening the back is important for keeping the torso in balance. One of our fave core exercises, the superman works the back extensors, which run on either side of the spine, as well as the glutes. Press play and learn how to take care of your spine while strengthening your back.
Back bulge plagues plenty of women, but targeting key muscles will strengthen and tone your back — while making your posture prettier. Time to put your back into it and get moving with these three exercises.
Dropping to your belly to move through some simple Supermans will tone up and strengthen your lower back:
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated "U" shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs several inches off the floor.
- Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one.
- Do three sets of 12.
Standing Reverse Fly
Having good posture can make you look 10 lbs. thinner! Try out this standing reverse fly to improve your posture while working your upper back muscles, plus the back of your shoulders:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping a slight bend in the knees. With straight arms, hold the exercise band in front of you with your hands slightly lower than your shoulders. Keep your elbows slightly soft to avoid hyperextending the joint.
- On an exhale, pull abs to spine to stabilize your torso as you open your arms out to the sides, focusing on the shoulder blades sliding together. Inhale as you slowly return your arms back to starting position.
- It's easy to arch your spine and push your ribcage forward when opening your arms, so really focus on the abs keeping the spine stable. Do imagine yourself growing taller as you open your arms to reinforce good posture.
- Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Keep reading for one more move on the ball.
Sitting hunched over at your desk all day can lead to a curved spine, but combating that pull with these yoga poses will help you straighten up. Who knows? You may even gain an inch.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Sugar
Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak is a big believer in the benefits of a back body workout, and his A-list clients have the results to prove it! There are plenty of ways to get your back tightened up, but an exercise ball is a tool to get things started. Get in gear, and tame back bulge with each of these easy-to-follow exercises.
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Self here on FitSugar!
Summer is all about showing skin, but are you ready to flaunt your figure in a strapless dress? If the answer isn't quite yes, then you're in luck! Scoring a sexy back, decolletage, and shoulders doesn't necessarily mean logging long hours at the gym. Instead, try this no-equipment upper-body workout from Philippe Til, a personal trainer and kettlebell expert based in West Los Angeles.
"A little definition goes a long way in looking great and getting compliments," he says. "Working the shoulders and upper back also automatically recruits your biceps and triceps so you kill a few birds with one stone!"
Toning up top also creates the illusion you've morphed into a long-legged goddess without breaking the bank on a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos. "An upright posture automatically helps you draw in your stomach so you appear taller and leaner," says Til. "It's a win-win!"
To help his female clients shape up fast for strapless dress season, Til uses circuit training to target several major muscle groups at once. "Spot reduction doesn't work," he says. "Think of an ice cube. If placed in the sun, it melts all over, not just in one area."
Incorporate these three moves into your regular routine three times a week, repeating four times the first day, three times the second day, and five times the third day. "Do these exercises back to back," says Til. "This workout has a variety of moves that target the upper back and core at once as well as the lower body and core at once. The more muscles you recruit, the more calories you burn and the more time you save!"
Keep reading for the back-defining exercises.