When we think of core exercises we usually think about working on our abs. Often this is for aesthetic reasons because we want our abs to look toned, and we don’t end up thinking about toning our back. It is equally important however to strengthen the muscles in the back because they work together with the abs to support the center of the body. If you keep the muscles in your back strong you can improve your posture, prevent injury, and also reduce fatigue and muscle aches in the back and shoulders.
To incorporate more back exercises into your workout routine, alternate days when you do abs and back or else do it right after your ab exercises so you won’t forget. Start slow so you don’t risk straining anything and remember to get some stretching in as well.
At the gym you can start using machines like the lat pull down and do pull ups on a bar. Yes these will be working your arms as well, but the muscle groups can’t ever be totally separated in their usage. From your home you can do things like holding a plank position and lifting the legs one at a time which will be a great workout for the back, abs, arms, and shoulders. You can also do a super man fly type exercise where you begin laying face down on the floor and then all at once lift up your arms, legs, and chest off the floor. This basically contracts the muscles in the back and it should start burning pretty quickly.
Doing lower back exercises can also help you tone your abs better. The oblique muscles which are on your sides are basically a connecting point between the abs and the back muscles so these are a great place to workout regularly. To engage the oblique muscles you can do tilted crunches on the floor or on a stability ball. On the floor you can bend one of your knees and place the ankle on the opposite leg and then crunch toward it with the opposite elbow. On the stability ball you can crunch from side to side and the stability ball will help support your movement.
To stretch your back out you can lie on the floor, bend one knee into your chest, and then drop it across your body to the opposite side, which will cause a twisting effect and give you a great stretch. For a standing stretch try spreading the legs apart past hip width and then bending over the waist. Try holding your arms behind your head for some weighted pressure or simply folded and hanging for a little les pressure. You shouldn’t be pulling yourself down at first but simply allowing the gravity to stretch you out.