Back Exercises to Wow Them Coming and Going

Learn how to sculpt a healthy, beautiful back

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Whether you're looking to strengthen your back to help with pain or just to look and feel better, experts say back exercises are a big part of the game.

According to the CDC, back pain is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. in workers under 45 and results in $20 to $50 billion annually in health care and workers' compensation costs in this country.

With exercise and proper strengthening of the back muscles and the abdominals, the muscles that support the back, experts agree the frequency of back pain could decrease.

The back is an area vulnerable to injury. Why? One reason is a weak back and supporting muscle groups. Another is poor form in exercise or lifting or whatever daily activities you perform.

Show Off Your Back

"The back should be just as important a muscle group as the chest and biceps, but it is often neglected," says exercise physiologist Kelli Calabrese.

"The muscles of the back help to keep you upright, and if the muscles are strong, they don't fatigue as quickly," she says, "(so) you're less likely to get injured when lifting or bending."

"We tend to overemphasize pectoral (chest) strength and underemphasize back strength," says exercise physiologist Richard Cotton.

The "show" muscles, as Cotton calls them -- chest, biceps, and shoulders -- tend to get our attention because they are the ones we see and show to the world.