By Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Illustrations by William P. Hamilton, CMI
Firming your abs and legs are no-brainers when it comes to looking best in your bikini. However, how often do you think about your back and shoulders when it becomes warm enough to get near the pool or beach? Although “out of sight, out of mind” might be a good excuse for not getting to your back too often, will need to look great from both the front and the back in order to look your best in your bikini. In addition, you can never have a strong and firm core without a strong back to support your bikini-ready body.
Rowing on rings is an effective activator of all middle-back muscles, as well as the shoulders and arms. All of these muscles are proudly on display when you hit the beach or pool in your bikini. So why not invest a little time in an exercise that attacks all of these areas with one movement?
In the ring row, you need to keep your body tight and straight. It is a lot like an inverted push-up.
1. Take one ring in each hand. Lean back with your legs in front of you and your body kept straight and tight. Only your heels should contact the floor.
2. Straighten your elbows and hang down from the rings. Keep your hips and legs and body straight.
3. Flex your elbows and pull your chest up toward the rings. Pull up as high as you can and hold the top position for a count of two.
4. Slowly lower yourself back down till your arms are straight again. Without resting at the bottom, begin the next repetition.
If you struggle with the pull upward, you can make it easier until you are stronger by raising the height of the rings. The lower the rings are to the floor, the harder the exercise will be. Another way to make it easier is to bend your knees or move from a seated position. However, you should eventually work your way up to a straight body.
Remember to try to pull with your back first and then with your arms. Although the arms are certainly involved, it is intended to be a secondary upper-arm exercise.
Ring rows look easy enough but they can be a challenging upper-back and shoulder exercise. While ring rows may not be easy to do, they will be very effective in firming, toning and shaping your middle back, shoulders and arms, and they do it pretty quickly. In fact, you can reshape your entire back, shoulders and arm flexors just in time for you to dawn your bikini and show off an absolutely fabulous back this summer.
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