Want to build a stronger upper body with minimal equipment? This no-gym-required back and shoulders workout is just what you need.
Having a strong back and shoulders is important for everyone — but there’s more to it than just being able to lift heavy stuff up onto the highest shelf of your hallway closet. In fact, strong back and shoulder muscles keep your posture proud and can even minimize unhelpful rotating when you run, so you’re more efficient and can log more kays.
Plus, a healthy back and shoulders also helps open up your chest, giving you more access to lung space so you can breathe easier all day long.
Lucky for you, you don’t need a pullups bar (or anything fancy, really) to sculpt those back and shoulder muscles. This eight-move back and shoulder workout is designed to attack each part of these important muscle groups with just two types of equipment — a pair of dumbbells (or water or wine bottles, canned goods work, too) and a resistance band — so you can build upper-body strength anywhere.
Another reason this workout is so great: You can totally customize it to your preferences or fitness level. If needed, you can up the rest or decrease your rep counts by two or three reps per set. As you get stronger, you can shave off some of that rest time or add two or three reps to each set.
Ready to set your back and shoulders on fire? Of course you are.
Equipment needed: dumbbells, resistance band
Time: 25 minutes
Instructions: Perform each exercise below in order. Complete the indicated number of reps and then continue to the next move, taking rest as noted. Once you’ve completed all eight exercises, rest for one minute, then repeat the entire circuit twice more for a total of three sets.
READ MORE: This 10-Move Resistance Band Arm Workout Is No Joke
1/ Bent-Over Row
How to: With feet under hips, hinge at hips with knees slightly bent and arms just in front of legs. Focus on keeping back flat, torso either parallel to the floor or at a 45-degree angle, and core engaged. This is your starting position. From here, drive elbows up toward the ceiling and weights back toward bottom ribs, feeling shoulder blades squeeze together. Then, slowly reverse the motion. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
2/ Bird-Dog Row
How to: Begin on all fours with wrists beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. (Up the challenge by resting on a raised surface, like a bench or non-glass coffee table, to increase shoulder range of motion.) Hold a dumbbell in left hand. Brace core and lift and extend right leg until parallel with the floor. This is your start position. Pressing through right hand and left shin, draw left elbow back towards left hip until elbow lifts next to rib cage. Keep spine long. Slowly reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps on each side, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
3/ Band Front Arm Raises
How to: To start, stand with feet on top of the middle of a resistance band, knees slightly bent, and arms by sides, holding ends of band, with palms facing body. Without bending elbows, raise arms straight up in front of body until they reach shoulder-level. Lower them back down to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 to 15 reps, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
4/ Half-Kneeling Shoulder Press
Kneel with both legs bent at 90 degrees, left foot forward so thigh is parallel to floor, right knee under hip and toes tucked behind body; place left hand on left hip and hold a dumbbell at shoulder-height in right hand, elbow bent and near ribs. This is your starting position. Engaging core and glutes, press right hand straight up overhead until arm is fully extended. Engage back and shoulders to slowly lower right arm down to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps per side, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
READ MORE: Try This 30-Minute HIIT Workout At Home For A Total-Body Burn
How to: Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart and dumbbells in hands. Bend elbows to bring the weights up to shoulder-height. This is your starting position. Keeping palm facing inward, press left arm straight up until fully extended. Then, slowly reverse the motion and repeat on the other side. Keep core tight and hips and shoulders square. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps per side, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
6/ Renegade Row
How to: Start in a plank position with feet hips-width apart and dumbbells in hands (palms facing inward). Engage entire body, and keep shoulders and hips square to the floor, while bending left elbow to pull left hand up to the left rib cage. (Think: sports bra band area.) Maintain stability and slowly lower the dumbbell back to the floor. Repeat with right arm. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps per side, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
How to: Start lying on stomach with arms bent at 90-degrees, elbows in line with shoulders and forearms on the floor, legs extended to straight, tops of feet on mat. Contract core muscles to stabilize spine and lift head, chest, and arms a few inches up off the floor. Keeping neck long and neutral by gazing three inches in front of nose, extend arms straight forward, bringing biceps by ears. Reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 15 reps, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next move.
8/ Bent-Over Band T-Flys
How to: With feet together, push butt back and hinge at hips with knees slightly bent. Extend arms straight down in front of legs, hands grasping a resistance band with palms facing body. Focus on keeping back flat, torso either parallel to the floor or at a 45-degree angle, and core engaged. This is your starting position. Engage core and, keeping elbows straight, extend arms wide out to the sides until wrists are shoulder-height. Slowly lower arms. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, then rest for one minute and repeat full circuit from the top.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com