5 Best Supersets For Back

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Here are five massive supersets to try on back day!

Most of us will endure chronic back pain at some point in our lives, now more than ever in a world where we spend much of our time sitting and hunched over computers and smartphones. There’s nothing like back pain to sabotage a steady workout program and disrupt everyday routines.

It doesn’t have to be that way. An effective back workout not only develops the muscles that give us a broad, V-shaped torso but also counteracts the effects of sitting and hunching. If we can create stability through the hips, midsection, and shoulders – the massive area covered by the back – we can reduce the possibility of long-term ailments, including back pain. Studies show that postural awareness limits back pain.

It’s possible to strengthen and stabilize our backs at the same time. Not only can we work big muscle groups along the posterior chain, we inevitably pull in many other muscles, making a back routine one of the more effective and efficient ways to train. That’s especially true in a superset routine where we alternate push-pull movements or upper and lower body to keep things moving.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of several books on performance and training.

Rib Opener

FIRST SUPERSET: RIB OPENER AND BOW & ARROW

Rib Opener

What it does: This move lengthens and strengthens the muscles of the chest and back, creating mobility in the thoracic spine.

How to do it: Lay on your left side with the left (bottom) leg straight and your right (top) leg at a 90-degree angle atop a foam roller. Your left hand is on your right knee. Reach your right arm across your chest as if pinning a newspaper to the chest. Pull your chest to the right, getting a good stretch. Hold for two seconds.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Bow and Arrow

What it does: A variation on the rib opener that also strengthens the muscles of the chest and back, creating mobility in the thoracic spine.

How to do it: Kneel on your right knee and place a short foam roller between the side of your left knee and a wall. Bring your hands together in front of you and then extend your right arm fully back, similar to a yoga Warrior 2 pose but with palms facing out. Hold for two seconds.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Pull-Ups

SECOND SUPERSET: PULL-UPS AND PUSH-UPS

Pull-Ups 

What it does: No other move makes you feel like you’re building that V-shape back. You’re hitting the muscles of your upper back, along with the shoulders, biceps, forearms, and chest.

How to do it:  Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body, and build momentum. Finish by pulling up with your arms. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps (or as many as possible) with 30 seconds rest between sets.

Push-Ups

What it does: Though more of a chest exercise, it’s underrated as a back move because of how if executed properly, it challenges your stability and pulls in the shoulder blades, and lats.

How to do it: Familiar position with shoulder blades pushed away from the ground. Lower to an inch off the ground and explode back up.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps (per side).

Back Supersets

THIRD SUPERSET: ONE-ARM, ONE-LEG PLANK, AND HALF LOCUST

One-Arm, One-Leg Plank

What it does: This move challenges you to keep your back flat and stabilized.

How to do it: From a pushup position with forearms on the ground, push up off your elbows supporting your weight on your elbows. Tuck your chin so that your head is in line with your body. Lift one arm and opposite leg, hold for two seconds. Switch limbs. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps (per side) with 30 seconds rest between sets. 

Half-Locust

What it does: This yoga move strengthens the erector spinae muscles, which run on both sides of the spine from the pelvis to the upper back.

How to do it: Lie face down on the ground with arms by your sides. Inhale and lift your head and upper chest off the ground. Only lift a few inches, which should be enough to have everything above your breastbone in the air. Hold for two seconds and return to starting position.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps with 30 seconds rest between sets. 

Dumbbell Row

FOURTH SUPERSET: BENT-OVER DB ROW, ONE-ARM, ONE-LEG,

MEDICINE BALL ROTATIONAL THROW

Bent-Over DB Row, One-Arm, One-Leg 

What it does: This provides all of the benefits of a dumbbell row, but by doing it on one leg, we force ourselves to work our back and hamstrings by lowering the dumbbell deeper.

How to do it: Stand on one leg, grasping a dumbbell rack or bench in front of you with one hand. Drop your chest and lift the leg opposite your free hand to create a “T” with your body. Grab a dumbbell with your free hand, pull it to the side of your waist and then lower it. Do 10 reps on one side and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Medicine Ball Rotational Throw

What it does: Like the one-handed cable rotational lift, this rotational movement provides many benefits, including adding strength and flexibility to the back.

How to do it: Stand facing a concrete block wall with feet shoulder-width apart and holding a medicine ball. Rotate your shoulders, hips, and torso away from the wall, taking the ball behind your hip. Turn your hip back to the wall and rotate the rest of your body, throwing the ball to the wall. 

How many? 2 sets of 10 pers per side

Lat Pulldown

FIFTH SUPERSET: LAT PULLDOWN and ONE-HANDED CABLE ROTATIONAL LIFT

Lat Pulldown 

What it does: This signature back move is perfect for our parallel goals of building a bigger stronger back while also making us more resistant to injury and the back-related ailments brought about by sitting.

How to do it: Sitting on a bench or seat in front of the pulldown machine, quads resting under the support (if available), grasp the cable bar with a wide grip. While keeping your back straight, pull the bar down to chin or breast level while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Return to starting position.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

One-Handed Cable Rotational Lift

What it does: Rotational movement provides many benefits to the hip flexors, but it’s underrated for working the back.

How to do it: Begin in a half-kneeling position in front of a cable machine, one knee on the ground and the opposite hand grabbing a low pulley. Rotate your trunk away from the machine as if starting the mower, drawing the handle toward your chest and rotating as far back as possible. If it feels like cranking a lawnmower, you’ve got it.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

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