Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

A Back Strengthening Workout for All

By kimfitness on Jul 08, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

Nearly all of your everyday movements involve at least a small contribution from your back muscles. Back muscles are vital for the movement of your spine and they contribute to movement of your neck, shoulders, hips, arms and pelvis. You should work to strengthen the muscles of your back by engaging in strength training activities on a regular basis, typically two to four days a week according to your fitness level and goals.

Integrating back exercises into your workout can improve your health in a number of ways. It will help to develop better posture, encourage muscular balance within the body, reduce the risk of injury and improve overall physical performance.

As with any strength training exercise, back exercises can help you reach your fitness goals by boosting your metabolism which allows you to burn more calories and increase the amount of lean muscle mass in the body.

Try these moves to shape and tone your back:

Exercise Name

Number of Sets

Number of Reps

Rest between  Sets

Dumbbell  Row


6 -12

30 seconds

One Arm Row

3 (on each arm)

6 -12

30 seconds

Back Extensions



60 seconds

Bird Dog



30 seconds




30 seconds

Barbell Pullover  



90 seconds

To help figure out how heavy your weights should be, your muscles should fatigue (get tired) before 12 repetitions. Take into account that when using heavier resistance and performing fewer repetitions, the rest period between sets will be longer. Do not work the same back muscles on consecutive days. Allow for 48 to 72 hours of recovery depending on your fitness level.

For more videos, Free printable workouts, and nutrition tips visit and  check out new interactive community FIT DINNERS where you can join dinner time with workout time to make healthy living less burdensome and more fun.

Also follow me on Twitter and Like me on Facebook to join in on the conversation and see what others are saying about this workout. Remember, I am always here to answer your questions every other Sunday on Calorie Count.


As someone who has been overweight for a long time and is now having serious back problems(compression of discs effecting nerves), this is a timely article. The exercises shown seem to be a good way to strengthen the back and hopefully avoid injury. As anyone who has had back problems, if there is a way to avoid being debilitated by back pain, do it! I am starting physical training next week and will be interested to see what the therapist thinks of these exercises. I can't wait to get my back better so I can get back out and live!

Oops, meant physical therapy

Easy does it.  If your back is weak and already prone to blow out, lift only a little at first- a can of food lifted in each hand for instance, may be the right weight to lift.  Some days I am lucky if I can lift a 5 pound cat!  And for sure watch the twisting.  Do not twist the back.  Ever.  Right now my sciatica is in high gear so just lifting my legs and clenching my thigh muscles in and out is where I am and that is fine.  No major workouts.  Just mindful exercises cause for sure having a set of back muscles makes it possible to walk.  Or not. 

As an experienced personal trainer, I would recommend only those with a high-moderate to high level of fitness with lots of weight training already incorporated into their regular routine attempt this workout as written. Beginners should halve this workout to start and add 3 sets every 2 weeks as a rough recommendation.

Thank you very much for the advice!

I am a 72 year old woman who goes to the gym 3 times a week and does several of these weight training exercises on machines. However, for the past 6 months I have been having a back problem that only occurs at night. No matter what bed I am in, I wake up during the night with severe lower back pain, often rotating around to my stomach. When I get up, I am so stiff and in such pain around my middle that I cannot bend over. I feel like I had a waist girdle on, and sometimes I tilt to the side when I walk to the bathroom. However, within 5 minutes and for the rest of the day, the pain disappears. I have gained 20 lbs. during the past 4 years, almost all in my abdomen, and wonder whether that could be the problem and, if so, what I should do while I am trying to lose the weight.

Has anyone experienced this? If so, what did you do about it?

I agree with you experienced personal trainer. I too have been a personal trainer for 17 years and the only thing I would recommend here is the one arm row. And if you do have a bad back try doing this one using a chair. Put left knee on chair & try the row then alternate. As a matter of fact, there's lots of exercises you can do in a chair which will help keep the pressure off your back.

I really wish I could help you but without speaking with you it's really hard to determine what the problem might be. I've been in this field for 17 years and what we all have to remember is that the body changes. I would have so many questions for you. Like how old is your mattress, have you increased or changed any exercises. Maybe you need to incorporate more stretching, do different exercises depending on how long you've been doing your current exercises. Wish I could be more help but like I said really difficult with one paragraph  

One teeny step at a time, if that is what you can do is what I say.  My sciatica is acting up big time so I am grateful that with the help of ibuprofen, I slowly made it the block to my mailbox and back- my hubby there to make sure I did not fall.  I live on a little farm so I also got in other walks- to water plants and feed hens etc.  Maybe I'll be back to weeding next week!  Meantime, I lie back in my recliner and do leg lifts and when I can, walk a bit. 

"Do not work the same back muscles on consecutive days. "

How do I know which back muscles each of these exercises works? Am I missing something here??

Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - It's Easy and Free!