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Keeping the Back Healthly
Advanced Exercises

This section contains a printer friendly version of the Keeping The Back Healthy Exercises.  ONLY the exercises and a brief description is offered on this page.  For a complete explaination please go to the Keeping the Back Healthy page.

 

 

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FREE STANDING SQUATS
Stand with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Fold the arms across the chest to help with balance.  Bend at the knees and hips, lowering the body into a squatting position until the thighs are parallel to the floor.  When lowering the body use the slow 7 to 10 count.  Return to the starting position at a 5 count.  When returning to the starting position do not lock the knees.  Keep them softly bent. Make sure the feet remain flat on the floor during the activity. 

 

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BALL SQUATS
Hold the gym ball to the small of your back and against the wall.  Take a step away from the wall so you are slightly leaning against the gym ball.  The feet should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  The basic movement is the same as above (see Free Standing Squats).  

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DOOR SQUATS
Use a sturdy door or hand rail for support.  Open the door half-way and stand at the end of it.  Foot placement is wider than shoulder width and as the door swings the radius should clear your toes about two inches.  Grasp each side of the door knob with the hands and lean back.  The basic movement is the same as the Free Standing Squats. 

 


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DUCK SQUATS
Duck Squats are similar to regular squats in that the hip, leg, and back muscles are exercised.  The alternative foot placement changes the emphasis on muscle groups in the legs adding adaptability through strength and coordination.  Duck Squats focus on the inner thigh musculature.

To perform the Duck Squats stand with the feet wider than shoulder width with the toes pointing outward.  The heels supported by a piece of two inch X four inch X twelve inch lumbar, a phone book, or other similar sturdy item.
 

Fold the arms across the chest to help with balance.  Bend at the knees and hips, lowering the body into a squatting position until the thighs are parallel to the floor.  The knees should travel slightly out to the side, following foot placement. When lowering the body use the slow 7 to 10 count.  Return to the starting position at a 5 count.  When returning to the starting position do not lock the knees.  Keep them softly bent.

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LUNGES
Lunges are a great activity for strengthening and toning the hip and leg musculature while developing an increased sense of balance.  To perform the lunge, use a chair, door handle, or hand rail for support. Start with the feet at shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Take a step forward with the right foot.  The length of the step should allow for comfortable balance, without over-extending the back.  Additionally, the knee should not go forward farther than the foot.  This will put additional stress on the knee which can lead to injury. After stepping forward, slowly (7 to 10 count) lower down until the left knee is about 1 to 2 inches from the floor.  Slowly (5 count) returning to the starting position.  Repeat with the left leg. 

 

 

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STANDING CALF RAISES
The muscles to the back of the lower leg are called the calf muscles or the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (gastroc-soleus complex).  These are postural muscles that are used to help with balance and stability.  Strong calf muscles equal a sturdy base.  The calf raiser exercise will build strength and endurance to these muscles.  The muscles of the lower leg are postural muscles and require consistent exercise to build-up endurance.

To perform The Standing Calf Raiser, stand on the balls of your feet so the remainder of the foot hangs over the edge of a step or other elevated surface. To a 7 to 10 count, raise up on the toes as far as comfortable.  Lower your body down flexing the ankle as far as comfortable to a five count.  Raise back up to a 7 to 10 count.  Advanced raises can be performed on one foot at a time to build additional strength.

 

 

 

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BALL BACK EXTENSIONS (for beginners)
To begin, kneel in front of the gym ball and transfer the weight of the body to the ball.  Roll forward, placing the forearms on the ground with the elbows out for balance.  Raise the legs together using the 7 to 10 count contracting the lower back and buttocks muscles.  Lower back down to a 5 count.  Ball Back Extensions are an excellent exercise to build strength and endurance to the lower back. 

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BALL FACILITATED BACK EXTENSIONS  (Advanced): This is an advanced exercise that requires a very stable back.  If there is any back pain present or if you are new to exercise do not perform this activity.

To perform, kneel on the floor with the feet against a sturdy wall and the gym ball at your knees.  Roll forward so the body weight transfers to the gym ball and wall.  The chest should be resting on the ball.  As in the photograph, raise the chest up off the ball to a 7 to 10 count contracting the hip and back muscles.  Lower back down to a 5 count.  

 
 

 

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BALL BRIDGES
Sit down and roll down until the part of the back between the shoulder blades is resting firmly on the ball.  The knees should be bent to 90 degrees with the feet flat on the floor.  Bend at the hips, lowering the buttocks down as far as stability on the ball will permit (slow count).  Raise the pelvis back to the original position to a 5 count.

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GLUTEAL FLEXER (Ball)
To perform this activity, knee in front of the gym ball, roll forward transferring body weight to the chest.  Straighten the legs keeping the toes on the floor.  Raise one leg up and back to a 7 to 10 count as demonstrated in the photograph.  The muscles of the leg, hip, and lower back should contract.  Be sure not to force the movement.  Lower the leg back to starting position using a 5 count and repeat with the other leg to complete the first repetition.  

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FLOOR GLUTEAL FLEXER
To begin, kneel on all fours.  Raise one leg up and back to a 7 to 10 count.  You should feel the leg, hip and back muscles contract.  Be sure not force the movement.  Lower the leg back to starting position using a 5 count. Repeat with the other leg to complete the first repetition.  

 

 

 

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GLUTEAL FLEXER (chair, kitchen counter, or other supportive structure)
To perform, stand facing a counter or chair back bend at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.  Support the upper body with the hands by holding onto the chair back or counter.  Raise one leg up and back to a 7 to 10 count.  You should feel the leg, hip and back muscles contract.  Be sure not force the movement.  Lower the leg back to starting position using a 5 count.  Repeat with the other leg to complete the first repetition. 

 

 

 

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PRONE LEG RAISER
To perform this exercise laying face down on the floor with the foam roller under the pelvis.  Raise one leg up to a slow count as far as comfortable. Lower back to floor to a 7 to 10 count. You should feel the leg, hip and back muscles contract.  Be sure not to force the movement.  Lower the leg back to starting position using a 5 count. Repeat with the other leg to complete on repetition.  

 

 

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DOOR ROWING
This exercise focuses on the musculature of the upper back.  To begin, find a door which has a strong set of hinges and a sound door knob, or securely attach a rail to a wall.  The structure that you use should be strong enough to withstand the weight of your body pulling on it.

 

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To perform the Door Rowing exercise hold the ends of a towel in your hands and loop the center around the door knob or rail (see photo).  Foot placement is shoulder width with the toes 2 to 3 inches from the doors end. 

Bend slightly at the hips and knees, then lean back .  The arms should be outstretched with a slight bend at the elbows and there should be a slight arch to the lower back.

Let the shoulders slide forward, feeling the muscles between the shoulder blades stretch to the weight of your body.  Slowly (7 to 10 count) pull the shoulder blades together while thrusting the chest outward.  Using a 5 count return to the position with the shoulder blades spread.  This is one repetition.

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HIP/LEG EXERCISES

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SIDE RAISES / ABDUCTOR LIFT
To perform this exercise lay on your side with the bottom leg slightly bent at the hip and knee for stability.  Slightly tighten the abdominal muscles and raise the top leg to a 7 to 10 count making sure that the leg stays in line with the hip.  Lower slowly to a 5 count, complete all reps for this side, then roll to the opposite side and repeat. 

 

 

 

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INNER THIGH LIFTS / LEG ADDUCTORS
To perform this exercise lay on your side with the top leg bent at the hip and knee. Place the foot of the top leg out to the front of the body.  The bottom leg is straight with the toes softly pointed. Raise the bottom leg up to a slow count, then lower to the starting position.  Complete all repetitions then roll over and repeat for the other side.  Leg Adductor exercises strengthen while building endurance to the hip, abdominal, and leg musculature.


 

 

 

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BALL CRUNCHES
While sitting on the gym ball, roll down until the middle of the back is on top of the ball.  Place the arms across the chest or lace the fingers across the back of the head or neck for support.  If the hands are used to support the head or neck, remember not to pull on these structures.  This could inadvertently injure this area.  Slightly tighten the abdominal muscles so the pelvis rolls forward.  Roll the torso up and forward, feeling the stomach muscles tighten to a slow count.   Roll back down slowly to the starting position.  For advanced crunches, lower the torso all the way to the ball so the back is slightly arched.

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STRAIGHT LEG CRUNCHES
This exercise is performed on the floor or a flat, level supportive structure.  Lay on the back with straight legs and toes softly pointed.  Place the arms across the chest or lace the fingers across the back of the head or neck for support.  If the hands are used to support the head or neck, remember not to pull on these structures.  This could inadvertently injure the neck.  Roll the torso up and forward, feeling the stomach muscles tighten to a slow count.  Roll down slowly to the starting position.  Repeat.

 

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BENT KNEE CRUNCHES
This exercise is performed on the floor or a flat, level supportive structure.  Lay on the back with knees and hips bent.  Place the arms across the chest or lace the fingers across the back of the head or neck for support.  If the hands are used to support the head or neck, remember not to pull on these structures.  This could inadvertently injure the neck.  Roll the torso up and forward, feeling the stomach muscles tighten to a slow count.  Roll down slowly to the starting position.  Repeat.

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Frame118[1]_1.jpgPUSH-UPS
Push Ups are excellent for strengthening the chest (pectoralis), shoulders (anterior deltoid), and arm (triceps) musculature.  There are several ways to perform this activity to obtain different results.  In general, a wide hand placement will work the inner chest musculature more and a very close hand placement will emphasize the triceps.

BASIC PUSH-UP
For this exercise, assume the standard push-up position.  The standard position is maintained with the arms straight, hands pointing forward, the torso and pelvis are held rigid and straight, and the toes hold up the lower end of the body.  Hand placement is slightly wider than the shoulders.  Lower the body by bending the arms to a slow 7 to 10 count.  At the bottom raise back to the starting position to a 5 count.

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There are variations on the push-up to accommodate each level of strength and skill.  A person with slight upper body strength can perform the Beginner's Push-up.  To perform the Beginner's Push-Up the entire exercise is performed supporting the lower body with the knees instead of the toes as demonstrated in the photograph.

 

Those with moderate upper body strength can perform the Intermediate Level Push-Ups.  These are performed by assuming the standard push-up position as a starting point. Lower the body as if performing the basic push-up.  At the bottom, drop to the knees like performing the beginner's push-up and raise up to the starting position.  Upon reaching the starting position assume the standard push-up position again.  Repeat.  

Using the knees during the raising or lowering phase (or both) of the push-up can assist to build muscle strength when standard push-ups are too challenging.  Remember, the key to successful fitness is consistency without injury. For a variation, use the gym ball to support the legs during push ups or, by placing the toes on top of the foam roller, one can concentrate on the upper chest muscles.


TRICEPS EXERCISES
To exercise the muscles at the back of the arm you will be using the elastic tubing or a dumbbell.

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KICK BACKS
Starting with the right arm, stand on one end of the elastic tube with the right foot holding the other end of the tube in the right hand.  Bend at the waist, keeping the upper arm to the side.  The starting position has the elbow bent (the elastic tube should be taut).  Slowly straighten the arm until it is full extended (10 count) then lower back to starting position with a 5 count.  Perform all repetitions before switching to the left arm.  

 

 

 

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FRENCH CURLS
Starting with the right arm.  Stand on one end of the elastic tube with the right foot place the other end of the tube in the right hand.  Bend the right arm at the elbow while raising your arm so the elbow points to the ceiling (the elastic tube should be taut).  Slowly straighten the arm until it is fully extended (10 count) lower back to starting position with a 5 count.  Complete all repetitions then switch to the left arm.

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 French Curls and Kick Backs can be performed with free weights or with the elastic tubing.  Any found object such as cans of soup, water bottles, etc. can also be used to provide resistance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BICEPS EXERCISES
The muscles at the front of the arm are called the biceps.  This muscle group works in conjunction with the triceps to help with arm movements.  Following are exercises which allow the arms (biceps) to be exercised separately or simultaneously.

 

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STANDARD BICEPS CURL
To begin this exercise, stand on the middle of the elastic tube with the ends held in each hand.  To start, the arms are extended (the tubing should be taut).  Slowly bend the arms at the elbow to a 10 count.  This is called arm flexion.  After full flexion is achieved, slowly straighten the arms to full extension.

The biceps curl can be performed one arm at a time or with both arms simultaneously.  Note the different stabilization techniques used with each of these exercises.

 

 


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PULLING BICEPS CURL
Attach the elastic tubing to a door or other suitable structure. The point of attachment should be at shoulder height. To start, the arm is extended (the tubing should be taut).  Slowly bend the arm at the elbow to a 7 to 10 count.  The shoulder joint should not move.  After full flexion, slowly straighten the arm to full extension.  Complete all repetitions then switch to the other arm and repeat.  The Pulling Biceps Curl changes the angle at which the muscle pulls, adding variety and depth to the workout.  

 

SHOULDER EXERCISES

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LATERAL ARM RAISES
To exercise the right shoulder: Stand with the feet wider than shoulder width with one end of the elastic tubing securely held in place by the left foot as in the photograph.  Hold the free end of the elastic tubing in the right hand.  To begin, the right arm should be held to the side and the elastic material should be taught.  To a 7 to 10 count, slowly raise the right arm until it is parallel to the floor.  Slowly lower to a 5 count. Continue this cadence until all repetitions are completed then switch to the left shoulder.  The Lateral Raise will help to strengthen the shoulder musculature.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESCENDING EXERCISE WORK-OUT

 ACTIVITY
SELECTION

 EXERCISE DESCRIPTION

TARGET
REPETITIONS 

 Exercise 1

Squats (choose one) 

 

 Choice A

Standing Squats 

15

 Choice B

 Ball Squats

15

 Choice C

 Door Squats

15 

Exercise 2 

Duck Squats 

15

Exercise 3 

Lunges 

15 

Exercise 4

Calf Raiser 

15 

Exercise 5 

Lower Back (choose 2) 

 

 Choice A

Ball Back Extensions 

15 

 Choice B

 Ball Bridges

15

 Choice C

 Gluteal Flexer-floor

15

 Choice D

 Gluteal Flexer-chair

15

 Choice E

Prone Leg Raiser 

15

Choice F 

Reverse Leg Raiser 

15

 Exercise 6

Door Rowing 

15 

 

HIP/LEG EXERCISES 

 

Exercise 7 

Abductor Lift 

15 

Exercise 8

Leg Adductor 

15

Exercise 9 

Adbominals (choose 2) 

 

 Choice A

Ball Crunches  

15 - 30 

 Choice B

Straight Leg Crunches  

15 - 30 

 Choice C

Bent Knee Crunches  

15 - 30 

 

UPPER BODY 

 

Exercise 10  

Push Ups 

15 

Exercise 11 

 Triceps Exercise

15

Exercise 12  

Biceps Exercise  

15 

Exercise 13 

Lateral Raise  

15 

 Cool down

Ball Crunches 

15 - 30 

 

SAMPLE WORKOUTS

Below are five fitness routines derived from the exercises listed above.  These are suggested routines.  One can pick and choose from the list above to customize their own routine or use these sample workouts.  Either way, the key is to vary the exercises within the routine from workout to workout.  Keep in mind, adaptability along with strength, endurance, and coordination are essential to building a better back.

EXAMPLE ONE  

ACTIVITY

REPETITIONS 

 Standing Squats

15 

Duck Squats 

15

Lunges 

15

Calf Raises 

15 

Ball Back Extensions  

15

Floor Gluteal Flexer  

15

Door Rowing  

15 

Abductor Lift  

15 

Leg Adductor 

15 

Ball Crunches  

15 

Bent Knee Crunches 

15  

Push Ups 

15 

French Curls 

15 

Standard Biceps Curls  

15 

Lateral Raises 

15 

 
EXAMPLE TWO  

 ACTIVITY

REPETITIONS 

Ball Squats 

 15 

Duck Squats  

 15

Lunges 

 15

Calf Raises 

 15

Ball Back Extensions 

 15

Chair Gluteal Flexer

 15

Door Rowing

 15

Abductor Lift 

 15

Leg Adductor 

 15

Straight Leg Crunches 

 15

Ball Crunches 

 15

Push Ups  

 15

Kick Backs  

 15

Standard Biceps Curls 

 15

Lateral Raises 

 15


EXAMPLE THREE  

 ACTIVITY

REPETITIONS 

Door Squats 

 15

Duck Squats  

 15

Lunges 

 15

Calf Raises  

 15

Ball Back Extensions  

 15

Ball Bridges  

 15

Door Rowing  

 15

Abductor Lift  

 15

Leg Adductor 

 15

Straight Leg Crunches 

 15

Bent Leg Crunches 

 15

Push Ups 

 15

French Curls 

 15

Pulling Biceps Curls  

 15

Lateral Raises 

 15

 
EXAMPLE FOUR  

 ACTIVITY

 REPETITIONS 

Standing Squats   

 15

Duck Squats 

 15

Lunges 

 15

Calf Raises  

 15

  Ball Back Extensions  

 15

Prone Leg Raiser  

 15

Door Rowing  

 15

Abductor Lift  

 15

Leg Adductor 

 15

Ball Crunches 

 15

Bent Leg Crunches  

 15

Push Ups 

 15

Kick Backs 

 15

Pulling Biceps Curls 

 15

Lateral Raises 

 15