For many people, back strength likely isn’t a top fitness priority. But intentionally working this area can pay big dividends—and that’s where this resistance band back workout comes in.
People tend to neglect their back muscles because, well, they’re in the back, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, C.P.T., owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. Instead, she says, people tend to focus more on their chest and biceps when thinking of upper-body muscles to target.
Working your back muscles is super important though, both for everyday life and for strength training. Think about your posture, for instance. Taking the time to work on your back strength can help improve your posture, since optimal posture requires muscular strength and endurance across multiple muscles on your backside. This includes your rhomboids (an upper back muscle that connects your shoulder blades to your rib cage), rotator cuff (a group of muscles that help you lift and rotate your arm), mid to lower trapezius (the muscles across the back of your neck and upper back), and erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back).
When these muscles are strong enough, they can help counteract the forward shoulder hunch many people experience, especially when they spend a lot of time sitting. Keep in mind, though, ideal posture isn’t about getting yourself locked into one “perfect” position for hours—it’s also about allowing yourself time to move and change positions throughout the day, says Fagan.
This resistance band back workout will help you strengthen these all-important posterior-chain muscles. Just make sure you focus on your mind muscle connection throughout the moves, says Fagan. With mind-muscle connection, you focus on engaging the muscles that should be working when you do a certain movement, rather than allowing other muscles to swoop in and take over. For example, when you’re doing a row, you’d want to focus on retracting your rhomboids instead of powering the movement with your arms. Good mind-muscle connection will help the exercises be as safe and effective as possible, and bands really help with the process.
Another added bonus of the resistance band? You can pretty much do it anywhere. Resistance bands are super portable and convenient, which makes them good choices for traveling workouts or outdoor workouts—pretty much wherever you don’t want to lug your dumbbells. And because resistance bands keep constant tension on your muscles, you’ll experience a slightly different challenge compared to free weights.
Feeling ready to fire up your back muscles and better your posture in the process? Keep scrolling for a four-move resistance band back workout created by Fagan that may just become a new staple in your routine.
What you need: An exercise mat for comfort, and a resistance band. (You can use looped bands or ones with handles, whichever you prefer.) If you can, have several resistance bands of varying strengths on hand so you can switch from exercise to exercise as needed. Fagan suggests a light resistance band for the first move, a medium-strength resistance band for the second move, and a heavy resistance band for the third and fourth moves.
- Cuff pivot
- Staggered stance row
- For Superset 1, perform 10 reps of the pull-apart and 10-15 reps per side of the bow and arrow. Try not to rest between exercises, though you should take some time if you feel your form beginning to falter. Complete three rounds total. Rest for 2-3 minutes at the end of Superset 1.
- For Superset 2, perform 10-12 reps per side of the cuff pivot and 8-12 reps per side of the staggered stance row. Try not to rest between exercises. Complete three rounds total.
A band we like:
Demoing the moves below are Hejira Nitoto (GIF 1), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel-line owner based in Los Angeles and Saneeta Harris (GIFs 2-4), a blogger, SFG Level 1 certified kettlebell trainer, and the founder of @NaturalHairGirlsWhoLift.