Fitness Tips

4 Moves That Strengthen 360 Degrees of Your Back and Core in a Single Quickie Workout

We tend to think of our back and core as if they're separate entities—but in reality, working them together is the best option for keeping your entire trunk strong. On this episode of Good Moves, trainer Traci Copeland takes us through a 15-minute back and core strength workout that proves that all you need to hit every muscle in your core and back is light to medium weights, and a mat. Follow along through three rounds of four different moves that will have your whole trunk fired up in no time.

Copeland starts the workout with stretches that open up your chest and stretch out your upper and lower core muscles, back, and shoulders, preparing your muscles to work before diving right into the first set. The cat-cow stretches, heart openers, and walkouts in the warm-up help to get your blood flowing and bring space into the muscles before setting them to work. Throughout the 15-minute workout, Copeland stresses the importance of keeping your core engaged the entire time, listening to your body, and using the adjustments she offers to ease some of the pressure on your neck and spine. Scroll down to learn how to do the four moves that you'll need for the set.

4 exercises to strengthen your back and core

1. Chest flys

Hinge forward at the hips, lowering your chest to a 45-degree angle, while maintaining a neutral spine and a slight bend at the knees. Keep your eyes forward and the majority of your weight in your heels. Start with your arms centered in front of you and then fly them out to your sides. This will help engage your back and shoulder muscles, activating all the way from your thoracic spine through your lumbar spine, and is also a great move for improving mobility. For the first set, Copeland suggests doing the motion without the dumbbells, then adding them in for the later sets once the movement feels more natural.

2. Alternating supermans

Begin by lying on your stomach with your eyes facing forward, head off the ground, a neutral spine, and your arms extended out in front of you. Lift one arm and the opposite leg up off the ground in one fluid motion, then repeat on the other side. Move slowly and with control to really reap the full benefits of the move, and it should "feel kind of like swimming," Copeland explains. This move targets your lower back and core.

3. Bent-over row

Start out standing, hips hinged forward, a slight bend in your knees, your weight balanced in your heels, and one weight in each hand extended down by your knees. With one quick motion, draw your weights up, bending your elbows back behind you, then lower the weights back to their starting position slowly on a three-second count. "With a lot of these moves, it's the time under tension. That's how we define strength here. So, even if you don't have heavy weight, you can control how you use the weight by how much time you spend on your eccentric movement," says Copeland.

4. Bent-arm pullover

Set up by lying on your back and holding one weight above your head with both hands. Then, reach your weight back behind you then bring it back to your starting position. Make sure not to arch your back and keep your spine touching the ground and core engaged.

Ready to work your abs and back to the extreme? Click on the video above to follow along with Copeland as she walks you through a 15-minute core and back workout that you can do from anywhere.

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