Workout 42: Back & Abs


Back Exercises

1. Pull-Up

  1. Grasp the pull bar with a grip wider than your shoulder-width.
  2. Take a deep breath and depress the shoulder blades. Drive your elbows straight down to the floor to pull yourself up. Simultaneously, try to activate your lats.
  3. Pull your chin towards the bar until your lats are fully contracted. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Try to do this motion slowly.

2. Lat Pulldown

  1. Attach a wide-grip handle to the lat pulldown machine. Adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height to prevent your lower body from moving while performing this movement.
  2. For a regular lat pulldown, grasp the bar with an overhand grip with your arms at the end of the flat bar. 

For a reverse-grip lat pulldown, use an underhand grip and your palms facing your body. 

For a close grip, your hands should be positioned shoulder-width apart.

  1. Extend both arms up above you while holding the bar. Keep your back upright, create a slight curvature in your lower back, and stick out your chest.
  2. Keep your torso stationary and pull the bar down towards your body by drawing your shoulder blades and upper arms down and back. Squeeze your back muscles during this movement. 
  3. Slowly raise the bar in a controlled motion back to the starting position. Your arms should be fully extended and your lats fully stretched.

3. Wide Grip Seated Cable Row

  1. Sitting at a low pulley cable station, hold the straight-bar attachment with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Using your legs, push your torso back so that your arms are fully extended and you are supporting the weight.
  2. Keeping your chest forward, shoulders down, and back arched, pull the bar toward your waist. 
  3. Return the weight to the starting position.

4. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

  1. Find a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side. Start by placing your right knee on top of the bench.
  2. Bend your torso forward from your waist. Your upper body should be parallel to the ground. Place your right hand on the bench with your palm facing down, above where your knee is positioned. Place your left foot on the ground beside the bench. 
  3. Use your left hand to pick up the dumbbell with an overhand grip (your palm should be facing your torso). Keep your arm fully extended and make sure to keep your lower back straight. 
  4. Keep your elbow close to your side while you pull the weight straight up towards your chest. As you pull the weight up, concentrate on squeezing your back muscles and shoulder blades (you should feel a contraction in your back muscles).
  5. Slowly lower the weight straight down with control. 
  6. Alternate sides.

5. Straight Arm Rope Pulldown

  1.  Attach a wide bar at your shoulder-level on the pulley of the pulldown machine. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your palms facing downward, and make sure your grip is wider than your shoulder-width.
  2. Take a couple steps back and make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Slightly hinge at the waist so that your torso is leaning forward. Keep your arms fully extended so that they’re parallel to the ground. Your arms can have a slight bend at the elbow.
  3. Pull the bar down while keeping your arms straight. Continue pulling down until your hands are beside your thighs; you should feel a contraction in your lats. 
  4. Reverse this movement while keeping your arms fully straight.

Ab Exercises


1. Kneeling Cable Crunch

Caution: Do not choose a weight that is too heavy. This can result in straining your lower back.

  1. Find a cable station and attach a rope handle to the top pulley. Grasp the rope attachment at each end, and kneel down so your knees are bent at a 90° angle.
  2. Your arms should be stretched over your head. Your palms should be facing each other when holding the rope and your hands should be placed next to your face.
  3. Slightly flex your hips forward. There should be tension on the cable, and you should feel a stretch in your abs.
  4. Keep your hips stationary, contract your abs, and crunch your chest towards your hips until your head is between your knees. Your elbows should be approaching the middle of your thighs. After reaching this point, hold the contraction for a second.
  5. Slowly reverse back to the starting position. Keep as much tension in your abs during this whole movement.

2. V-Up

  1. Lie straight on your back with your legs together and your arms together, straight above your head.
  2. In one motion, raise your legs off the floor while keeping them straight. Also raise your torso and hands to meet your legs in the middle of your body.  
  3. Repeat!

3. Russian Twist

  1. Lie down on the floor placing your feet either under something that will not move or by having a partner hold them. Your legs should be bent at the knees.
  2. Elevate your upper body so that it creates an imaginary V-shape with your thighs. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you, perpendicular to your torso and with the hands clasped. This is the starting position.
  3. Twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor while breathing out.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second and exhale, moving back to the starting position. Now, move to the opposite side, performing the same techniques you applied to the right side.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

4. Plank

  1.  Position yourself face-down on the ground and place your hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your back as straight as possible, push your body off the ground, through your hands.
  2. Inhale as you lower yourself downward, until your chest nearly touches the ground.
  3. Exhale and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest, arms, and abdominal muscles.