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The back muscles are one of the most neglected areas in many strength training and exercise routines. Whether the reason is fear of initiating or exaggerating existing back pain or an exerciser's inability to clearly see the results of his or her efforts, many workout plans are incomplete without incorporating specific exercises for strengthening back muscles. This deficit can be remedied. Adopting a series of standard exercises geared toward strengthening back muscles, such as lateral pulldowns, close grip pull-ups and reverse grip pulldowns, will begin the process. Recognizing the enormous difference these exercises can make to overall core strength and the prevention of back pain can help motivate the exerciser to continue regularly in these efforts.
Strengthening back muscles, especially those of the lower back, helps to support the posterior torso and thus, the spine. This can alleviate or lessen lower back pain secondary to weak musculature in the area. When back exercises are combined with an abdominal exercise program and oblique torso exercises, the entire core musculature is improved. This improves posture, balance, gait and proprioception — the awareness of the body's position at rest and in motion.
Most exercises designed for strengthening back muscles will necessarily include arm motions and exercises as well. Lateral pulldowns, or lat pulldowns, involve using a wide grip, with palms facing away, on a metal bar while in a seated position at a weighted-pulley station. Close grip pull-ups are performed with the hands separated by the width of only two to three fists, with or without weighted assistance. Reverse grip pulldowns return the exerciser to the seated weighted-pulley station where the hands are reversed so that the palms face the exerciser. The Roman chair exercise is one of the few exercises that uses only the torso, buttocks and the lower back to raise and lower the torso while in a prone position with the legs stabilized so as not to contribute their strength.
In order for any of these recommended exercises to be effective, they must be regularly incorporated into the workout routine. It can be very helpful to maintain an exercise diary in which to document increases in weights used or repetitions completed. Other motivational tips include before and after photographs to order to document progress and results. In addition, it's a good idea to try a variety of exercises so that boredom and abandonment won't be an issue while strengthening back muscles.
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