A strong back and great abs go together like summer and barbecues. And you're going to want both when you're hitting up all those barbecues, pool parties, and other shirt-optional events. But, shoring up the large muscle groups at the center of your body isn't just a vain, aesthetic thing: Both are key for warding off injuries and preventing aches and pains that come from working out other muscles and everyday living. That said, you have to look beyond your mirror muscles and also strengthen the oft-neglected ones.
"To build a strong back, you have to focus not just on the upper back muscles but your lower back as well for overall strength," says Alyssa Ages, athlete with PowerNYC Training and trainer at Global Stronman Gym, Epic Hybrid Training, and Uplift Studios. Rows (barbell and dumbbell; upright, bent, and renegade), Good Mornings and back extensions—all moves incorporated into the following 10 routines—are some of the best exercises you can do for overall back strength. And when it comes to building a stronger core, just doing a million crunches isn't going to cut it (or get you cut!), says Ages. "Adding weight to your core work (weighted sit-ups, weighted planks) forces your abs and supporting muscles to work that much harder to fight against the resistance provided by the added weight," she says.
And with 10 routines to choose from, you have zero excuses not to work on these important muscle groups: Whether you have no equipment and want to get in a quick body weight workout or have barbells, dumbbells, a TRX, and more—there’s a routine here for you. You’ll also find something for whatever time frame you have: Got 10 minutes? Try workout 4 (warning: It’s pretty intense!) There’s a Tabata routine if you want to rev up your metabolism and burn more fat and calories, a CrossFit inspired EMOM workout, a few standard circuit workouts, and more. So clearly there’s no excuse to get bored mentally—and your body definitely won’t get bored physically either. If you work a few of these workouts into your days over the next few weeks, you’re guaranteed to see serious results in the form of ripped abs and back muscles in time for that first BBQ of the summer.