It’s no surprise if you tend to focus on anterior muscles (the ones at the front of the body). They’re what you see in the mirror! Whether it’s performing crunches, push-ups, biceps curls, or leg extensions, most of us love to work “beach muscles,” because we can so easily see the results.
While these exercises are all good ones, they neglect posterior muscles (the ones along the back-side of the body). And focusing too much on anterior muscles can cause them to overpower posterior ones, creating muscle imbalances. To make matters worse, our world involves sitting, typing, and driving—activities that tax the front of the body and exacerbate problems like hunched shoulders. Such muscle imbalances can also lead to back pain, knee and neck injuries—even a protruding belly.
So what do we do? It’s time to befriend the backside. Working posterior muscles won’t just help prevent injuries, it will also help strengthen your core and improve your posture—benefits that can create a longer, leaner look.
Here are some exercises I regularly give my clients to bolster their behinds. Perform four sets of 10 to 20 reps (depending on your fitness level), twice per week for at least six weeks.
TRX Back Rows (Strengthens back)
*If you don’t have access to TRX straps, you can use an exercise band looped around something sturdy, and perform the rows while standing upright.
Grasp the handles, pull your abs in toward your spine, and lean back at about a 45-degree angle. Keep your body straight, and pull your body forward and up, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly release and repeat.
Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlifts (Strengthens glutes and hamstrings)
*You can use water bottles or jugs instead of dumbbells, if you don’t have them.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet about hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent. Pull your abs in toward your spine, and slowly bend forward from the hips, lowering the dumbbells toward the floor. Keep your back straight through the movement, and eyes up. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to rise back to start.
Lying dumbbell triceps extensions (Strengthens triceps)
Hold a pair of dumbbells, and lay on the floor with your back flat, knees bent, and abs pulled in toward your spine. Straighten your arms, moving the dumbbells toward the ceiling (keeping a very slight bend in your elbows, so as not to hyperextend them), and then hinge at the elbows to lower dumbbells overhead toward the floor. Squeeze your triceps to press the dumbbells back toward the ceiling.
Dolphin extensions (Strengthens back)
Lay face down on a bench or mat (on the floor) with your hands under your chin or holding the bench, and legs extended. Squeeze your glutes and use your back muscles and glutes to lift your legs about six inches. Slowly lower to start and repeat.
Glute Bridge (Strengthens glutes and thighs)
Lay flat on your back with knees bent and feet and legs hip-distance apart. Pull your abs in toward your spine, and squeeze your glutes and thighs to press your hips up toward the ceiling. Keep your hips flat, and do not arch your back. Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly lower to start and repeat.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.