To Your Health
October, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 10)
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A Total-Body Workout in 5 Easy Steps

Part 4: The Back & Shoulders

By Chelsea Cooper

Chelsea Cooper, certified personal trainer and fitness expert, continues her five-part series covering each of the major muscle zones. This month, learn the best exercises to shape and tone your back and shoulders.

Chelsea Cooper at Club No Mercy in Huntington Beach, California. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark All photographs taken at Club No Mercy Intensity Performance Training Studio ( in Huntington Beach, Calif. Your back and shoulders are some of the most important body parts. Your back is especially significant because back strength plays a key role in determining your posture. Poor posture also is linked to poor spine stabilization, which can lead to back pain and a host of other problems. The back muscles consist of the rhomboids, latisimus dorsi and lower trapezius. The back is the most difficult area to work properly and effectively, so take your time and focus on proper technique.


Chelsea Cooper demonstrates a dumbbell row. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Do not allow your back to arch. DUMBBELL ROW

Getting Started

1 Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward and knees slightly bent over your second and third toes.

2 Bend at the waist until your chest is at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Do not allow your back to arch.

3 Allow your arms to extend and hang in front of your body with a dumbbell in each hand.

Chelsea Cooper demonstrates a dumbbell row. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Draw in your abs and tighten your glutes. Movement

4 Draw in your abs and tighten your glutes.

5 Row the dumbbells by squeezing and depressing your shoulder blades.

6 Flex your elbows while bringing your thumbs toward your armpits. Do not allow your back to arch.

7 Slowly return the dumbbells to their original position by extending at the elbow.


Repetitions And Sets: Same for both men and women; varies depending on individual goals (toning muscle vs. building muscle vs. building strength).

Intensity: This is the percentage of your one-rep maximum (the maximum amount of weight you can lift at one time). For example, if your goal is to build muscle, you would perform repetitions using 70 percent to 75 percent of your one-rep maximum (see below). That means that if you can bench press 100 pounds one time, you would perform each repetition using a maximum of 75 pounds of weight.

Toning Muscle (Strength/Endurance)

Sets: 2-3 /// Reps: 15-25 /// Intensity: 50% - 70%

Building Muscle (Hypertrophy)

Sets: 3 /// Reps: 9-12 /// Intensity: 70% - 75%

Strength Adaptation

Sets: 3-4 /// Reps: 6-8 /// Intensity: 75% - 85%