The majority of exercises focus on the muscles of the front of the body, the muscles we look at in the mirror every morning – think abs, quads, biceps. Often times women will neglect working out the back of the body, which can lead to an imbalance of muscle, as well as an imbalance in how you look. It is also important to note that the more you work a muscle over and over again, the stronger and bigger it is going to get. This is why if we only work certain muscle groups while neglecting others, this can lead to certain muscles getting larger, while other muscles remained unchanged.
The backside muscles are referred to as the “posterior chain,” and include the muscles of the back, arms, butt, and hamstrings. In my opinion (and I think most women would agree), the backside of the body is hardest to tone with the exception of the abdominals, and is also the side of the body I want to be toned the most.
I started writing out the muscle groups worked for each exercise, and realized they were all basically the same! The exercises below will work your back, shoulders, triceps, core, hamstrings, hips, and glutes.
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Below lists the top exercises to target the muscles of your backside:
1. Kettlebell swings
1. Stand with feet hips-width apart, knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hip.
2. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands out in front of you.
3. Swing the kettlebell back through your legs and then back to the front to the height of your shoulders while stretching your legs straight
4. Squeeze your butt at the top.
5. Repeat 30x and do 2 more sets of 30 with a break in between sets.
1. This move is literally called “Bird-Dog” and is starts with you on all fours.
2. Raise your left arm forward in front of you and at the same time push your right leg back straight with toes flexed downward.
3. Hold this pose, and then then pull your arm and bend your leg in to touch your left elbow to your right knee.
4. Repeat the move 10x or as many times as you can, then do the other side. Repeat 2-3x each side.
Increase the burn:
Once you’ve mastered this move, take it to a plank position and try again – you will definitely feel the burn!
1. Stand with feet hip-width apart slight bend in the knee, grasp a kettlebell with both hands or grab a weight in each hand.
2. Push your hips and butt back while hinging at the hip, keeping your back straight and lower the weight down in front of you.
3. Then hinge at your hips again with a straight back to lift the weight up to your hips and squeeze your butt to stand with legs straight.
4. Lift and lower 10x slowly. Repeat this sequence 2-3x.
4. Single-leg Deadlift
This is very similar to the traditional deadlift, the only real difference is that you are performing this move with one leg.
1. Stand on your right leg and grasp a weight with your left hand.
2. Push your left leg back straight behind you, toes flexed down, while hinging forward at the hip and lowering the weight to the ground directly in-front of you.
3. Then pull your left leg back straight to standing position while also pulling the weight back up with your left.
4. Repeat 10x and then do the other side. Repeat this sequence 2-3x.
Increase the burn:
At the point where you are hinged at the hip with your back leg up and the front weight out in-front you do, pull back on the weight to do a row.
5. Plank rows
I love the plank because it works your entire body, especially the back side of your body.
1. Grab a heavy weight and put it in front of you.
2. Pull back the weight with one arm to do a row.
3. Place the weight back down and grab the weight with your other hand and perform a row.
4. Perform 10 pullback rows on each side. Repeat this sequence 2-3x.
6. Reverse hyper
1. Lay your stomach down on an exercise bench or secure large block and hold onto the sides.
2. Then lift your legs up straight behind you and pulse up and down slowly.
3. Keep legs straight and your toes flexed pointed down.
4. Do as many reps as you can. Repeat 2-3x
1. Start on your back with both feet on the ground and lift your hips and butt off the ground.
2. Squeeze your butt and push your hips up in the air as far as you can, hold for a few seconds, then lower your butt to the ground.
3. Repeat this at least 10x. Repeat this sequence 2-3x.
Increase the burn:
To make it harder, raise one leg in the air and have one foot on the ground or a block while pulsing your hips up and down.
8. Bridge stability ball curl
1. Lay down on your back, put the heels of your feet on the stability ball so that you are in a tabletop position.
2. Next lift your hips up like you are doing a bridge and push the ball out with your feet, then pull the ball back with your feet and lower your hips. Never let your feet stop touching the ball.
3. Repeat 10x.
Increase the burn:
To make it even harder, lift one leg up while the other is doing all of the work on the ball.
1. Start this move by laying on your stomach on a mat, keep your legs back straight, and place your arm out in front of you straight.
2. Then lift both your arms and legs at the same time and hold for 3 seconds, then lower.
3. Repeat 10x. Rest, then repeat this sequence 2-3 more times.
Note: Be sure to squeeze your butt and back when you are lifting all of your limbs up, this will increase the burn even more to these muscles.
10. Plank hamstring curl
1. Get into plank position with your hands on the ground, kick both feet up onto a large stability ball while still in plank position.
2. Then roll the ball up towards your stomach while lifting your hips, then roll is back.
3. Repeat this 10x for 2-3 more sets.
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About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.