This Back Workout Helps You Run With Better Posture—and You Can Do It Right at Home

The dynamic moves you need to run tall and proud.

The dynamic moves you need to run tall and proud.

The back muscles are among the body’s biggest and most powerful muscles, but you don’t need a ton of weight or extensive equipment to strengthen them. In fact, you can do a quick and effective back workout at home with a handful of exercises and a single dumbbell.

Designed by Yusuf Jeffers, NASM-certified personal trainer and USATF-certified running coach, this four-move circuit uses one weight to target the back muscles—specifically, the rhomboids, trapezius, teres minor, infraspinatus, rear deltoids, and latissimus dorsi—which are crucial to running performance and injury prevention.

While runners might typically focus on strengthening the lower body, the upper body is just as important when it comes to solid form and endurance on the road. You need strong back muscles to keep your chest tall, shoulders back and down, and arms pumping to help propel you forward. Targeting the back of your upper body also helps you improve your posture—both in and out of your running shoes.

This workout, in particular, includes familiar back exercises, like the renegade row and high pull, as well as a couple of less-obvious choices. “The single-arm reverse fly and balancing single-arm scaption are typically thought of as shoulder exercises, but to perform them properly requires the person to go into scapular retraction and depression (drawing the shoulders blades down and back) and, therefore, isometrically work the muscles in the back to maintain proper posture,” Jeffers tells Runner’s World. “It’s very important for runners to be able to dynamically stabilize their upper body to be more efficient with running. Simply stated, a strong back leads to better posture and, therefore, better running,” he says.

Also noteworthy: Each exercise is unilateral, meaning that it works one side of the body at a time. This mimics a runner’s movement patterns and allows you to maximize the resistance of a single weight. It also turns up the burn in your core—another area you want strong and stable for good running.

How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, resting minimally between exercises. Do each exercise in the circuit on one side of the body, then repeat on the other side. Repeat the full circuit for 2-3 sets each side. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.