When it comes to working your back, sometimes it’s out of sight, out of mind. But your core actually plays an impactful role in keeping you upright and helping you to stand straighter. So let’s work it out, yeah? This week, our Trainer of the Month Charlee Atkins has a workout that will light up your entire back and get you stronger in eight minutes flat.
In this week’s workout from the Le Sweat founder, you’ll be strengthening your all-important postural muscles that keep your entire body supported: Your chest, core, back, glutes, shoulders, and obliques are going to feel the burn. “In the back, there are a lot of muscles, and we want to hit everything so that you’re nice and balanced,” says Atkins. All you’ll need is a mat and dumbbells, though you can use your bodyweight for a just-as-good core and back workout sesh.
Try this 8-minute core and back workout
Do each exercise for 45 seconds followed by a 15-second recovery.
1. Bird dog: Come down into quadruped position, hips above your knees, shoulders above your wrists. Kick one leg back, then take your opposite arm and reach it out. Keep your back flat and your core engaged. Bring those sides down to the center and switch, then keep alternating sides. Keep that back foot flexed as you push your heel towards the wall.
2. Single arm + leg row—right: From quadruped position, one leg will be down, and the other foot is extending behind you. You can have your toe down or your foot lifted up. With a dumbbell in your right hand, pull your right elbow to the sky, wrist to your ribs. Your opposite leg can be lifted, but if it’s too much, you can bring it to the floor. Keep rowing with your elbow to the sky, wrist to ribs. If you’re not using weights, just move at a quicker pace.
3. Single arm + leg row—left: Repeat on the left side. For an added challenge, you can use both dumbbells in one hand. Be sure to keep your glutes engaged the entire time.
4. Chest fly + leg lower: Lie down onto your back and bring your feet up to the sky, arms extended over your chest. With or without weights in your hands, open your arms out to the side for a chest fly with a slight bend in your elbows. Bring your hands back above the chest, then lower your legs down. If both legs lowering at once is too much, you can lower one down, then the other—just make sure your lower back presses into the mat with the leg lowers.
5. Around the world: In a half kneeling position, hold your dumbbells with your palms pressing forward. Reach your arms out, pressing your fists as far as they can go on both sides, then come up overhead, and slowly lower them back down. Stay controlled with the entire arm movement. You should feel this in your shoulders.
6. Reverse tabletop: With your toes pointed forward, fingers pointed towards your toes, come into a backwards quadruped position. Press through your heels to lift your hips up, then lower back down. Keep your shoulders over your wrists and your chest open.
7. Heel taps: Come down onto your back with your hands at your side. You should be able to brush your heels with your fingertips. Lift your heart up towards the ceiling, keeping your gaze up, and touch the outside of the heels. This targets the obliques. For an added challenge, you can touch the inside of the ankles, which gives you a bit more flexion on the side of the body.
8. Alternating side plank: Come into a high plank position, shoulders over wrists. Your feet should be a little wider than hip-width distance apart. Reach one arm towards the ceiling, replace that hand down, then switch sides. Make sure your shoulder stays in line with your wrist as you take one hand up towards the ceiling. If this is too much, you can modify by dropping down onto the knees for more support. Otherwise, just keep pivoting on the balls of the feet, going from one side to another.
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