Flaunt a pretty back after this! By Estelle Low
Photo: Alan Poulson / 123rf.com
In our pursuit for a flatter tummy, perkier butt and leaner thighs, the upper back is easily forgotten.
Here’s why you should care: Nestled between your shoulder blades are the rhomboids. Those rhombus-shaped muscles are what keep your shoulders pulled back so you can stand and sit upright. So if slouching comes naturally to you, and you find it a challenge to open up your chest, your rhomboids are weak.
Another reason to work your upper back: Gain #backenvy in bareback and off-shoulder clothes!
I have been doing a lot of the TRX row exercise lately, as I train for the Under Armour Test of Will heats on April 8 and 9. It’s one of the four moves I’m supposed to do in a four-minute as-many-reps-as-possible circuit.
At first glance, the TRX row looks like a lot of arm work. But you won’t get very far if you only rely on arms. This move activates the core, arms (but of course), and also the – surprise, surprise – upper back.
My trainer Latif Mirza from TripleFit Singapore said that to do the TRX row efficiently, I should be able to use my rhomboid muscles in the upper back to hoist me up. What rhomboids?
To put things in perspective, I don’t think about my rhomboids as much as I devise ways to shrink my flabby tummy. And to be fair, there aren’t as many exercises that target the rhomboids compared to say, the core.
Besides the TRX row, other rhomboid-engaging exercises would be pull-ups and rowing variations.
To help me “feel” my rhomboids, Latif said: “As you pull up, squeeze your shoulder blades together, as though you’re trying to make them touch.”
With more practice, I’m definitely finding it easier to do the rows, and feeling less strain on my arms than when I first started. Also, I swear I see more definition in my upper back after three weeks of training.
Racerback tops, here I come.
How to Do The TRX Row
Workout photos: Vernon Wong
Hold a handle bar in each hand, palms facing each other. Arms should be shoulder-width apart. Straighten arms. Walk forward until there is tension in the straps. Keep body in straight line. Your feet can be fully on ground, or heels on ground [shown].
2. Pull up
Inhale, brace core and exhale as you pull torso up until hands are close to chest. Keep your gaze at about 45 degrees upwards. That’s one rep.
Do as many reps as you can in good form. Avoid rounding the back. Your neck should be relaxed.
If this exercise feels easy – you’re not huffing and puffing while doing it – walk a step or two forward. The lower you go, the harder it gets.
Where to Find Suspension Training Equipment
Most big gyms in Singapore have TRX straps, or a version of it. If you prefer to do suspension training exercises at home, it’s worth investing in a set. You can buy it from sports shops such as Decathlon and F1 Recreation, or online stores such as trxsingapore.com. It should come with an anchor that lets you attach the straps to a door or sturdy frame.
This article is brought to you by Under Armour Singapore.