If back exercises aren’t currently part of your fitness routine, start with the beginner circuit. When you’re ready for more of a challenge, move on to the intermediate and advanced circuits.
For whichever circuit you choose, we recommend completing three rounds of each of the three exercises, following a pattern of 30 seconds of work, then 30 seconds of rest. Do that twice a week, and as you get stronger, aim for three times a week.
You’ll need a pair of heavy weights (or heavy books that are approximately the same weight) and a pair of light or medium weights (or canned goods).
1. Hip Hinge Hold
Stand with feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Keep knees slightly bent (rather than locked), and keep shoulders pulled down (rather than tensed up toward your ears).
Keeping your lower back naturally arched, push your hips back as far as possible and lower your torso by hinging at the hips. Lower until your torso forms a 45-degree angle with the floor (or as close to it as you can get). Hold for 30 seconds, then reverse to return to start.
2. Hollow Hold
Lie faceup on the floor with legs long and arms extended over your head. (Increase the intensity by holding one of your weights in your hands.) Press your lower back into the floor as you lift your arms and legs so your body forms a C (your shoulders and feet should be hovering several inches above the floor). Squeeze abs and butt muscles and hold for one minute.
3. Dumbbell Deadlift
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a light- or heavyweight dumbbell in each hand in front of your hips, with your palms facing your thighs. Squeeze your shoulders together, then hinge at the hips to bend over, lowering dumbbells along the fronts of your legs until your torso is parallel to the ground. Return to standing, focusing on shifting your bodyweight down through the midfoot as you do. Repeat for 30 seconds, paying careful attention to form and not rushing any part of the movement.
1. Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a light- or medium-weight dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Hinge forward at the hips until your torso forms a 45-degree angle with the floor (or as close to it as you can get), allowing the dumbbells to hang below your shoulders, wrists facing in. Pull the dumbbells up next to your ribs, drawing your elbows straight back and keeping your arms in tight to your sides. Slowly lower the weights back to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds.
2. Dumbbell Reverse Fly
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a light- or medium-weight dumbbell in each hand by your sides. Hinge forward at the hips until your torso forms a 45-degree angle with the floor (or as close to it as you can get), allowing the dumbbells to hang below your shoulders, wrists facing in. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, lift dumbbells up laterally and out to the side until they reach shoulder height. Slowly lower weights back to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds. Increase the intensity by using your heaviest dumbbells.
3. Dumbbell Farmer Carry
Stand with feet hip-width distance or less apart and heavy dumbbells on the floor beside each foot. Bend to pick up the dumbbells, driving through your heels to lift the weights. Stand tall, shoulders back and core engaged with the weights hanging next to your thighs, and take short, quick steps to move forward at least 50 feet. Turn around and continue walking for a total of 30 seconds.
1. Single-Arm Suitcase Deadlift
Stand with feet hip-width apart, a heavy dumbbell on the floor by your right foot. Bend to pick up the dumbbell, focusing on driving your bodyweight down through your heels to lift the weight up until your torso is back in an upright, standing position. Slowly lower the weight back to the ground. Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
2. Dumbbell Swing
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a heavy dumbbell with both hands, gripping from the top. Push your hips back, knees slightly bent, and lower your chest to bring the dumbbell between your legs. Push your hips forward to slowly swing the dumbbell up to shoulder height. Reverse the movement, slowly swinging the weight back between your legs. Continue for 30 seconds.
3. Dumbbell Plank Lateral Drag
Place a light or heavyweight dumbbell on the left side of your body. Start at the top of a push-up position by placing palms on the ground, directly below your shoulders, and walking your feet back until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels above the ground. (If you can’t support your weight, drop down to your knees, so that your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.) Reach your right hand under and through the left side of your body to grasp the edge of the weight, then slowly drag it and place it on the right side of your body. Return your right palm to floor, grab the weight with your left hand, and slowly drag it back to the left side of your body. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.
Originally published on: www.everydayhealth.com