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The One Exercise This Personal Trainer Swears by to Fight Lower Back Pain

Prevention logo Prevention 3/4/2019 Larysa DiDio

a man standing in front of a building: The lunge to single-arm back row will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles to improve your posture and avoid lower back pain. Here's how to do it. © Hearst The lunge to single-arm back row will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles to improve your posture and avoid lower back pain. Here's how to do it. Some days are simply too busy to squeeze in a workout-trust me, I get it. But sneaking in one effective exercise is better than giving up on your workout completely, and it can give you a burst of energy in just a number of minutes.

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That being said, busting out as many crunches and squats as you can isn't the best way to get the most muscular bang for your buck. My advice as a personal trainer? Opt for the humble back row.

Here’s why: Day in and day out, you’re probably texting, hunching over a computer at work, or carrying your kids, all of which pull your shoulders and neck forward. As a result, your chest tightens and your back muscles get weaker. This can lead to poor posture and make you more prone to injuries and lower back pain. Back rows reverse this process by strengthening your back muscles.

Back rows are great because you can do them anywhere-all you need is a dumbbell or a heavy water bottle. Fit them into your strength training routine a few times each week, and soon you’ll notice that everyday activities will feel much easier. Whether it's lifting grocery bags or squatting down to pick up something off the floor, your back muscles do more than you think. Plus, there’s nothing like standing up straight to give yourself an extra dose of confidence.

When doing back rows, I like to throw in a lunge to also target the glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Your core also gets some love by recruiting your abs to maintain your balance with this move.

How to do the lunge to single-arm back row

  1. Step your left leg forward, right leg back, and hold a heavy dumbbell (10 to 15 pounds) in your right hand by your side. Rest your left hand against your left thigh.
  2. Bend both knees and lunge, keeping your left knee over your left ankle.
  3. As you extend your legs and rise to stand, draw your right elbow up toward the ceiling, keeping it in close to your body. That’s one rep; do 10 to 12 reps, then switch sides to complete one set. Do three sets total.

Want to see more strength exercises like this one? Check out the Tone Up in 15 workout DVD, which includes five 15-minute workouts that will help you get stronger and fitter. All you need is a set of dumbbells and 15 minutes-getting in shape has never been easier.

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