* The outcomes of this diet depend on the person's individual predispositions and cannot be guaranteed in every person. We advise you to consult your doctor before you start a diet programme.
Healthy back workout: No need to head for the gym, these exercises can be easily done in your living room
Almost all of us have experienced back pain, either temporary or permanent, at some point in our lives. It is a sad fact that problems with the neck and lower back are on the rise worldwide. A sedentary lifestyle is often cited as the main culprit, however, it is not the only cause. Backache is also a frequent complaint in manual workers, such as those using their hands in a warehouse or those who are on their feet all day in a hair salon.
That’s why we have asked an experienced fitness instructor Lenka Berousková to prepare a simple workout to help you strengthen your back that you can easily do in the comfort of your home. No need to panic – you haven’t signed yourself up for some unforgiving drill. Just 20 minutes, including stretching, and you’re done. So get changed into something comfortable and let’s get started!
Bodyweight exercises for strengthening the back
Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise.
Lie on the mat on your front. Rest your forehead on your folded arms. As you slowly exhale, lift your upper body. Inhaling, lower your chest back to the floor. Once you have become familiar with the exercise, you can make it more challenging by lifting your legs at the same time as your torso. Just a few centimetres above the floor will be sufficient.
Lie on your front, face down. Stretch your arms out in front of your body. As you exhale, simultaneously lift your upper body and legs whilst bringing your arms to the body. Resembling a swimming motion, this exercise is often referred to as a “swimmer”.
Once you have completed these first two exercises, drink some water to prevent dehydration. Don’t go overboard though as this would make exercising uncomfortable – half a glass will do. Not keen on plain water? Why not try our sugar-free grapefruit syrup?
Kneel on all fours (cat position), ensuring your hands are shoulder-width apart and your knees are hip-width apart. As you exhale, stretch one arm forward and the opposite leg back and lift them to the same level as the back. In other words, when you lift your left leg, lift your right arm at the same time. You then bring them down to the starting position on all fours and swap, i.e. lift your right leg and your left arm. Repeat 10-12 times for each arm and leg in one set. Don’t forget to breathe.
TIP! To make the exercise more challenging, don’t bring your arm and leg back to the starting position (your hand below the shoulder and knee below the hip) but continue their movement under your abdomen, i.e. your elbow nearly touches the opposite knee under your belly. This will engage the abdominal muscles.
Dust off your gym ball – you can do so much more with it than just sitting and bouncing on it. Start with your belly on the ball, steady yourself and extend your legs behind with the toes resting on the floor to give you support. Place your hands on the back of your head. Exhaling, slowly lift your chest off the ball until it’s almost in line with the legs. If you can’t go that far, simply stop at the level that your back will allow you. Inhaling, lower your chest back onto the ball.
Do you have a resistance band at home? This amazing exercise tool can be found in any sports shop. It’s cheap and can be used in multiple ways, not just for back exercises. Take the band and tie a knot in the middle. Secure the knot in a closed door (if you have no other option for anchoring the band) at your shoulder height. Stand straight opposite the anchor point, tightly hold the band with your hands so that the band is stretched and effectively acts as the continuation of your arms. Start pulling yourself towards the anchor point. As you are nearing the point, try to keep your elbows tucked in by your body as much as possible and squeeze in the back muscles. Stand straight and make sure your pelvis doesn’t tilt backwards. The intensity of the exercise is controlled by you. It depends on what position you adopt – the more upright you are, the easier the exercise.
TIP! Have a go at this exercise using the TRX System (suspension bands). If you get a chance to use them, make sure you try them for the back exercises.
The back workout can be done twice a week. Make it part of your overall physical activity. It will help you strengthen your back. However, if you’re looking for a faster weight loss, it won’t make much of a difference. To boost your calorie burn rate, go for aerobic types of exercise instead, such as brisk walking, running, dancing or aerobics.
Make sure you always do some stretches before and after the exercise. A great way to stretch your back is to adopt a shoulder stand position and then slowly stretch your legs backwards over your head. This will give your lumbar region a nice stretch. To make the exercise more challenging, you can try the following: once the legs are over your head, slowly lower your knees towards your ears. Make sure you do this exercise with utmost attention and care.
It wasn’t that hard, was it? How are you feeling? Take a look at the following instructor’s tips that will help you carry out the exercises correctly.
Tried and tested tips by the fitness instructor Lenka
About Lenka, the fitness instructor
It’s probably not that far from the truth if I say that Lenka Berousková grew up in the gym. Encouraged to do exercise by her family since she was little, she decided to turn her hobby into a career more than five years ago. Apart from providing personal training sessions, she has also run group classes in piloxing knockout and tabata, as well as circuit training. However, Lenka says she prefers the “machines”. Apart from advising her clients about exercise, Lenka also monitors their diets. Her interest in healthy eating, sports nutrition and devising weight-loss diet plans has been increasing in the recent years. She is particularly into a low-carb diet and intermittent fasting.
Author: Nikola Nevečeřalová
Photo: Nikola Nevečeřalová
Photos taken in OK Gym Fitness Centre – Dukla, Pardubice, Czech Republic