When we look in the mirror we see only the front of our body, if we twist we can see a part of our back but our focus is mainly on the front and many people forget the importance of working to strengthen or build mass in their back.
Our back is essential for good posture and with many of us sitting for long periods of the day, often in chairs which do not support our posture or if we are looking at screens it can become common to round our shoulders or lean forward in a way that is not conducive to the needs of our bodies. Shoulders round and ribs are compressed. Poor posture can lead to aches and pains and it can put pressure on the spine and as habits form, this postural imbalance becomes harder to correct.
Posture, or how you hold yourself is essential for good health. When the body is held in a forward position, breathing can become impaired and shallow breathing can result. Poor posture puts your entire skeletal system out of balance and the body is then forced to compensate in ways that are unnatural. More pressure is exerted on other structure such as the knees or the ankles forcing them to overwork and become fatigued and left unchecked, problems will be evident on the structures which are compensating. Muscles and tendons adapt by shortening
Poor posture can impact on your digestion, it can cause incontinence and constipation, nerves can be pinched and blood vessels can be constricted leading to a poor flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body. If this is left unchecked, it can increase the risk of heart disease. Find out more about this topic through the following site:
Posture is also important for confidence, standing tall gives a good outward impression of a fit and healthy person.
Paying too much attention to the front of your body can create an imbalance so it is important to address your back as well and following is a list and description of 5 of the best exercises for men looking to build mass in their back and hence strengthen or correct their posture. The main muscles of the back which will receive attention are
- Latissimus dorsi
- Erector spinae
Bent Over Barbell Row
This exercise works on a variety of the back muscles.
Stand over a barbell with your feet 6 – 12 inches apart. The barbell should be loaded with a comfortable weight. Bend your knees slightly and bend at the waist, keeping your back straight. Palms should be facing down as you grip the barbell and your hands should be about 2 shoulder widths apart. Keeping yourself steady and keeping your elbows close to your body, lift the barbell using your hips for momentum, lift the barbell to your torso area. Breathing is important and you should exhale before you lift and inhale as you release the barbell back to the starting position. Repeat for the required number of repetitions.
Use the triangular V-Bar attachment on a cable pulldown machine.
Sit down on the machine and lean back slightly so that your sternum is directly below the pulley of the machine, making sure that you are gripping the handle with your palms facing each other. Slightly arch your lower back and pull the bar down to the bottom of your chest. Hold this position for a moment and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Return to the starting position using a controlled movement.
Seated Cable Row
This exercise uses a horizontal cable machine or ‘rowing machine’ which should be set to your desired weight. Sit on the platform with your knees bent, feet on the rest and grip the cable attachment, this may be a bar or a triangular structure. Your back must be kept straight. Pull the handle towards you keeping your back straight and ‘row’. Return to the starting position under tension. Repeat for the required number of repetitions.
Stand with your feet hip width apart over the barbell which should be weighted accordingly. Bend your knees and keep a straight back, your hands should be just outside your feet. You can either hold the bar in an overhand grip with both hands or in an overhand grip with one hand, that is a personal choice. Lift the bar off the floor until you are standing in an upright position, keeping the bar close to your body. Lower the weights back towards the floor, again keeping them close to your body. Repeat as desired.
Standing T-Bar Row
Position the back of your bar so that it does not move, load the front end with the desired weight. Put a Double D Row attachment at the collar under the weights. Using a wide stance, straddle the bar, leg at either side. Both your arm and your back should be straight, your knees should be slightly bent. When you are sure that you have the correct stance, pull the weight towards your abdomen then lower and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Posture and stance is very important in all of the exercises in order that you achieve the maximum benefit. Some people like to use a mirror initially to check that their stance is correct. The correct number of repetitions should be performed according to your ability and repetitions can be increased as you develop mass. Weights can also be increased or decreased to suit your requirements. Lifting too much of a weight before you are ready can result in injury and can mean that you may be out of action for a while. Exercises have to be performed regularly for maximum benefit and do not assume that if you have left off exercising for a while that you will be able to pick up from where you have left off!
All 5 exercise work very well on your back area and will develop the major muscles of your back but remember not to do too much too soon as it can cause injury. Start slowly and build up and if in doubt, ask for advice.