The 7 Best Exercises For a Toned Back

With summer in full swing the time for bathing suits, tank tops and backless dresses is upon us. But, don’t shy away from wearing your favorite outfits just because your back isn’t in the best shape. Here, celebrity trainer Kristin McGee shares her top exercises that will have your back fit, toned and ready to be shown off. 


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Cobra

“Start out lying on the floor, hands shoulder width apart and slightly forward of your shoulders. Engage your abdominals and lengthen the tailbone and legs away from the torso as you lift your chest up and open. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down the back. Use your back muscles to support you and keep your arms slightly bent to also fire up the triceps. Hold five breaths lower down and repeat two more times,” says McGee. This is great if you want to feel a deep stretch in your back and core.

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate


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Warrior 3

Test your balance with the Warrior 3 pose that works the core that supports the back, strengthens the butt, hips, hamstrings and back muscles. McGee says, “Start standing with both feet together, pointing your left toes behind you. Lean forward from your hips and lower your torso towards the floor as you lift your leg straight up behind you. Once your chest and leg are parallel to the floor, stop and hold the position for five to eight breaths. Keep your core strong and reach actively through your back leg and arms as you pick a spot on the floor to concentrate on. Come back to stand and repeat on the opposite side.”

Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced


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Bird Dog

This is a great back strengthening pose for anyone to work on. McGee explains, “From all fours, extend your right arm forward and your left leg back, engage your core muscles and reach actively through your limbs. Hold five breaths, then switch sides. Repeat three to five more times on each side.”

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced


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Seated Spinal Twist

Give your spine a little massage. “Seated spinal twists are incredible for lubricating the spine, mobility, massaging and strengthening the back,” notes McGee. “Sit tall with your left leg bent underneath you and your right foot on the outside of your left knee with the right knee bent to the ceiling. Lift your left arm up as you twist to your right, then bend at the left elbow and brace it against the right knee. Use your abdominals to extend your spine upward on an inhalation, and on the exhale, deepen your twist. Hold five to eight breaths before switching sides.”

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced


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Bridge

While you may feel a little like a pretzel, “bridges are wonderful back strengtheners,” says McGee. “Lie down on your back with your feet hip width apart and press your feet down to lift your butt up. Lace your hands underneath your back and shimmy your shoulders down away from your ears. Press your hands into the mat as you lift your hips higher and puff your chest toward your chin. Hold five to eight breaths, lower down, and repeat two more times.”

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced


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Rear Deltoid Flys

Prepare to feel the burn! “This is my favorite move for strengthening the upper back and rear deltoids—the back of your shoulders—which tend to be weaker from all the rounding forward we do with our shoulders. From a standing position, hinge forward from your hips until your chest is parallel to the floor. Draw in your abdominals and extend your arms out to the sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your arms then lower them back down in front of your chest fingertips to the floor and hands to touch. Repeat 15 times for three reps, and if you want an added challenge, you can hold onto weights,” says McGee.

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced

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Table Top

Looking for an exercise to strengthen your entire back? Table top pose may be just what you are looking for. “Starting seated, place your feet flat on the mat hip distance apart. Slide your hands back about 12 inches behind your hips with the fingers facing forward and press down through your feet and hands and lift your body up to form a straight line from hips to head. Hold five breaths, lower down, then repeat two to three more times,” recommends McGee.

Degree of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced