Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Runners are no stranger to core work, as a strong middle will prevent injuries and keep your upper body more stable when running. The foundation of a strong core, however, is your back, and working those muscles can help keep your entire spine aligned and support your head and central nervous system properly.
If your back is being neglected, Kathleen Uhran, owner of She Rocks Fitness, has six moves that will work your whole back to benefit your overall body health and, as a bonus, get you ready for swimsuits and tank tops this summer.
“It is important to strengthen your back muscles with these certain exercises, because they will improve your core strength, posture and help with your flexibility and strength in your hamstrings as well, while also improving your daily activities,” explains Uhran. “These exercises not only target your back, but also your core, arms and legs, which make these exercises very effective for building strength and balance throughout the entire body.”
Print these six moves out and bring them to the gym for a back day in your routine, or mix a couple with an existing schedule to help with better posture, tighter core and well-aligned body.
Related: Pre-Run Core Workout
Back Extension on Stability Ball: Lay face down on a stability ball, with the ball positioned under your lower abdomen. Place your feet against a wall for stability, legs fully extended. With your arms out straight in front of you, palms facing inward, bring your arms down to the floor. Then using your core and lower back muscles, lift up until your back is just slightly hyper-extended (but not in pain!). Do 3 sets of 25.
1-Arm Plank Row: Assume the plank, or pushup, position with your arms fully extended. Staying in that position, take a weight in your right hand and complete single row by lifting the weight off the ground, keeping your elbow close to your side and bringing back to the ground. Do 3 sets of 25 on each side.
Related: Mastering The Plank In 3 Steps
Rear Lateral Raise: Stand with your legs slightly bent and lean your body slightly forward. With weights in both hands, dangle your arm straight down in front of you and fly your arms back, bringing them out straight like an airplan. Bring your arms back the start position to complete one move. Do 3 sets of 25.
Single Leg Dumbbell Row: Standing straight, bend your right knee and slightly pitch forward. Bring your left leg out behind you in the air. Balancing on your right leg, take weights in both arms and row back, with your elbows in at your sides. Do 25 reps. Repeat with right leg out behind you for a total of 3 sets.
Related: 3 Arm Focused Exercises For Runners
Kneeling Single Arm Dumbbell Row: Using a weight bench or flat surface, take your left knee and kneel on the bench. Your left arm should be straight and supporting you on the bench so that your back is flat. Your right leg should be planted on the floor. With a weight in your right hand, row back with your elbows in at your side. Do this move 25 times and repeat on your left side for a total of 3 sets.
Cable Row: Using a seated cable rowing machine, plant your feet on the foot rest with a slight bend in your knees and sit up with your back straight. Grip the v-bar with palms facing inward and pull the cable out in a rowing motion with your elbows at your side and back straight. Pull the handle into your stomach and pinch your shoulder blades behind you. Then, bring the weight back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 25.
Related: Best Abs Ever