By Wendy Morley
Glutes and Hamstrings
Keep the lower half of your posterior chain healthy with these three moves.
Stand behind a loaded barbell. Squat down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Making sure to hold your back flat and your abs in, stand up straight and then lower to the floor again. Your arms are acting only as pulleys for this exercise. Keep the weight fairly light to start; as your muscles develop you can increase the weight considerably.
Hold a loaded barbell on the ground in the same way as the deadlift, and lift until you are standing straight. At this point, your rep begins as you bend forward with the weight. The difference here is that you only bend your knees slightly and you don’t drop the weight all the way to the floor. Stand back up. Repeat.
Kneeling, you will begin this movement by stabilizing your lower legs (either anchored under a piece of equipment, a loaded barbell, or held by a partner). Place your hands behind your head and, keeping your body in a straight line from knees to head, lean forward as far as you can before returning to the start. Repeat.
An area exceptionally prone to pain, nip aches in the bud with these lower-back strengthening exercises.
Stand straight with a light barbell across your shoulders. Hold your abs in and keep your back flat as you lean forward from your hips until your upper body is close to parallel with the floor. Rise again and repeat at a slow, controlled pace. Do not use too much weight!
If your gym has a hyperextension apparatus, set it so that it supports the upper half of your thighs, but not higher, and anchor your feet at the bottom. Place your hands behind your head and lean forward from the hips. Raise your upper body back up again, coming above parallel. Pause, and lower with a controlled motion. As your back strength develops, you can hold a weight plate at your chest.
Tack these upper-back boosters onto your workout, and look forward to relieved tension.
Stand behind a loaded barbell. Squat down and lift it up, keeping your back as flat as possible and abs pulled in tight. Bend forward at least 45 degrees, but preferably closer to 90 degrees. Making sure to keep your back flat and abs in through the entire movement, lift the bar into your sternum area, then lower. Continue to repeat at a comfortable pace.
Sit at a seated row machine. A rope handle, double-Ds, or medium-length angled bar are best here. Place your feet on the footplates and grasp the handle. Pull with your upper-back muscles rather than your arms. Bring the handle to your sternum area and squeeze. Stretch your back as you release the weight while staying upright. Do high reps with fairly low weight to really activate this area.
Start by lying face down on a bench, either flat or inclined to 30 to 40 degrees, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Reach forward with the dumbbells until they are close to the floor and then pull up until your elbows reach shoulder height. You can also do this move standing and leaning forward from the hips, with a cable machine, or with a rear-delt flye machine.