Thursday, April 19, 2007

Banish Ugly Back Flab: 3 Exercises!

Ask Glen!

Q. How do I get rid of the fat on my back?

An friend of mine (Laura) once asked me for a workout that would focus on reducing her back flab and tightening her back muscles. She felt her back looked flabby and was uncomfortable with the unsightly fat that seeped through the back of her bra.

I get hundreds of requests for improving the abs,hips,butt and arms. I hardly ever get one for improving the back. This request brought a smile to my face.

When someone begins to realize the importance of the back muscles from a practical and cosmetic standpoint, they have advanced to the next level of their fitness evolution.

When properly developed, it is absolutely amazing to see the beauty and artistic perfection of the multitude of back muscles. As I always mention, the ultimate key to a beautiful back and tight body is the combination of proper nutrition that places one in a slight caloric deficit, exercise and consistency. Luckily, Laura already had the nutrition part humming along with my diet program. She is also lifting weights twice per week and performing cardio three times per week.

All I needed to do was provide a specialty workout that she could perform twice per week along with her current program.

From a practical standpoint, building strength in the back, particularly the lower back, helps to prevent injury. How many times have you heard someone tell you they have a bad back? I hear it almost every day.

I’m providing a simple, yet practical understanding of the major back muscles. First I’ll briefly describe each major area of the back and then I’ll give you an exercise with one of our totally cool animations so you can practice on your own. The exercises focus on the major areas, but, in reality, there are even more isolated areas of the back.

1. Latissumus Dorsi -- The Latissumus Dorsi muscles (also known as the lats) are the largest muscles of the back. The lats are large, fan-shaped muscles. If you spread your back and touch the outer end of each side of the back, you’re touching your lats. The function of the lats is to pull the arm down toward the pelvis. When properly developed, the lats will actually make your waist look smaller. Now, there’s some good incentive.

Here’s a great exercise for the lats:

Cable Two-Arm Lat Pulldown
Starting Position

  • Extend your arms up and reach for a straight bar with an overhand grip.
  • Sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad with the knees and hips at a 90-degree angle.
  • Arms should be wider than shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in the elbows.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your chest lifted.


  • Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down leading with the elbows stopping when the bar is just above your chest.
  • Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the weight stack touching.

    Key Points

  • Exhale while lifting the weight.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Do not allow your upper back to round or your chest to cave in.

  • Other exercises that target the lats: Close Grip Pulldowns; Wide Grip Pulldowns; Chin Ups; One Arm Dumbbell Row; Seated Cable Row; Stiff Arm Cable Pushdowns.

    2. Rhomboid Muscles -- The Rhomboids originate on the spinal column and attach to the middle area of the scapula. They get their name from their shape. The function of the Rhomboids is to assist in squeezing the shoulder blades together. When even slightly developed, the Rhomboids give the back a look of utter beauty.

    A great exercise for the Rhomboids:

    Dumbbell Bent Over Row
    Starting Position

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward from the hips until the upper body is at about 45 degrees.
  • Extend the arms down keeping your shoulder blades together.


  • Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the dumbbells up toward your sides, stopping when your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Remember to slightly squeeze the shoulder blades together as you pull-up to the contracted position.
  • Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of the arms fully extending.

    Key Points

  • Exhale as you lift the weights.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • If you have any discomfort or weakness in your lower back, avoid this exercise.
  • Start out with light weights to make sure your lower back can tolerate this position.

    Alternative exercises for the rhomboid muscles: Rear Delt Raises, Seated Cable Rows, Dumbbell One Arm Bent Over Rows.

  • 3. The Erector Spinae -- For the most part, we’re referring to the lower back when we discuss the Erector Spinae. The erectors are a group of muscles that support the spinal column. The functions of the Erector Spinae group are to extend the spine as well as provide support for it. This area is extremely important to strengthen and very seldom exercised by the majority of the population.

    A great exercise for the Erector Spinae:

    Fitball Prone Trunk Extension
    Starting Position

  • Lie on the ball with your knees on the floor and feet up on the toes.
  • Place your finger tips gently on the sides of your head.
  • Maintain a neutral spine with head and neck relaxed as a natural extension of the spine.


  • Contracting the lower back muscles, raise your chest off the ball slightly.

  • Key Points

  • Exhale while lifting your body.
  • Inhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Do not hyperextend your back and/or overdo the range of motion.

    Alternative exercises for the erector spinae: Machine Back Extensions, Dumbbell Deadlifts.

    Attempt two to three sets of each exercise for 10 to 12 repetitions on two alternate days of the week and focus on precise form at all times.

    Whether it’s a sleeveless dress you’ll be wearing, tank top or just need that extra strength to pick up your kids and groceries, then focusing on your back muscles is your ticket to success. As always, check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.

  • Please consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program

    Wishing You Great Health,

    Glen Edward Mitchell

    Got a question? Ask Glen!

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    Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
    Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

    Any Questions? Ask Glen!