Build a Stronger Back

IFBB Bikini pro and mother of twins Ingrid Romero shares her winning do-anywhere back workout.
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This do-anywhere back workout is one of Ingrid Romero's favorites. It's a combination of heavy strength work to build shape and density, and stability and core work to strengthen the entire kinetic chain, boost endurance and heighten detail.

ExerciseSetsReps

Barbell deadlift

4

12-15

One-arm dumbbell ball row

4

12-15 each side

V-handle barbell row

4

12-15

Lying band flye

4

12-15

Stability ball slow swimmer

4

10 each side

Barbell Deadlift A

Barbell Deadlift

Setup: Stand behind a barbell with your feet hip-width apart and your toes underneath the bar. Take an overhand grip on the barbell about shoulder-width apart, and drop your hips while keeping your back straight. Your shins should be perpendicular to the ground, your focus forward.

Move: Keeping your back straight, extend your legs and stand up, pulling the barbell up along the front of your body until you’re standing upright. Reverse the move and slowly return to the start. Touch the barbell to the floor and go right into the next rep.

Tip: Using a flip-grip —in which one hand is under and one hand is over the bar — creates more stability and can help you lift heavier weight.

One Arm Dumbbell Ball Row A
One Arm Dumbbell Ball Row B

One-Arm Dumbbell Ball Row

Setup: Stand behind a stability ball and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Place your left hand on top of the ball and step forward with your left leg. Bend forward with a straight back and extend your right arm straight toward the ground, palm facing inward.

Move: Keeping yourself steady on the ball, drive your elbow up and back to pull the weight up toward your rib cage. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blade toward the center of your back, then slowly lower to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Tip: Keep your shoulders and hips square to target the back and keep your body stable on the ball.

V-Handle Barbell Row A

V-Handle Barbell Row

Setup: Place the end of an Olympic bar in the corner and secure a V-handle underneath the opposite end. Straddle the barbell and hold the handle with your arms straight. Fold forward with a straight back until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor.

Move: Keeping your torso steady, drive your elbows up and back to pull the bar into your abdomen. At peak contraction, pause and then slowly lower to the start under control.

Tip: If you don’t have a V-handle, a towel works just as well. To maintain your body position, tighten your knees.

Lying Band Flye A

Lying Band Flye

Setup: Lie faceup and secure a band around one foot. Extend that foot into the air and place the other leg flat on the floor. Hold an end of the band in each hand, arms extended straight above your chest.

Move: Keeping your arms straight, open them to the sides until they almost touch the floor. Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades together, then slowly return to the start, resisting the band on the return.

Tip: This move can also be performed standing, with the band secured in a door atshoulder height.

Stability Ball Slow Swimmer A
Stability Ball Slow Swimmer B

Stability Ball Slow Swimmer

Setup: Lie on your belly across a stability ball so your back is as straight as possible. 

Move: Extend one leg and your opposite arm so they are straight and parallel to the floor. Pause and hold for one breath, then lower to the start. Continue, alternating sides, keeping your head neutral.

Tip: Make sure the ball you use is appropriate to your height and limb length; smaller women should use the 140 to 165 cm ball, while taller women can go for the 165 to 185 cm ball.

Photography by Robert Reiff