Nature can have a wicked sense of humor, especially when it comes to fat distribution over age 40.
Throughout the childbearing years, women are saddled with preferential fat storage around our thighs. (Aka saddlebags) Then when menopause sets in, the fat storage distribution shifts more towards the midsection front and back (due to declining estrogen)
I’m all for love handles, but seriously? They seemed to pop up overnight.
Before we move on, let’s remember that we are lovely in every stage of life. And we also have the option to control our health and appearance through exercise and nutrition.
In terms of the aesthetics, the benefits of a strong back are obvious, leaner with perhaps a hint of a V taper towards the waist.
But did you know that a strong back has many health benefits as well?
A strong back provides us with excellent posture.
Excellent posture is directly related to improved breathing, a reduced risk for back pain, better moods, improved digestion, reduced headaches, reduced effects of aging, more energy, (poor posture is an energy zapper) and improved cognition (secondary to improved breathing).
To get the most out of our time under tension (aka training sessions), we want to select the best exercises for posture and back strength.
We are also going to need a sensible eating approach. We must eat enough to fuel our workouts, and not so much that we are storing any excess as extra fat. Remember after the onset of peri-menopause and menopause, our back is and belly are prime locations for extra fat.
Check out the videos below for examples some of the best exercises you can do to improve your back.
Guess what? You don’t have to do a gazillion pullups if that’s not your thing. In fact, rows have been shown to be more effective than pull-ups, according to Dr. John Russin, a well-known expert in elite level training and doctor of Physical Therapy.
Incorporate these exercises into your fitness program as a “back day” or spread them out and use with other workouts. Aim to do these consistently at least weekly or twice weekly.
Make sure when you exercise to make a conscious effort to embrace a strong neutral posture. Use this little mental checklist (These are the cues I use with my clients).
- Lift the chest, while pulling the rib cage down.
- Push shoulder blades together, like you are squeezing a sponge between them
- Pull your shoulder girdle down
- Retract your shoulders away from your chest and ears. (HINT: you do not want to look like you are wearing your shoulders as earrings)
- Always engage your abdominal muscles to brace your midsection throughout every movement.
Practice the stretches below as part of your warm-up routine.
These will help minimize tight chest muscles, which are often a factor in slouching posture. Forward slouching posture gives the appearance of being frumpier and less healthy.
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