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Five-Minute Back Workout

A 5-Minute Workout to Help You Look Tall and Lean

Have five minutes to spare? Take your posture from poor to perfect with this quick back workout. Combining a variety of exercises from yoga to weights, this sequence will not only improve your posture, but it will help you with running, too. Beginners, try doing each exercise for 30 seconds and, when needed, rest in a 30-second Child's Pose. For an advanced version, complete each exercise for a minute, finishing with a long stretch.

Number One: Superman Lifts

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  • Lie on your belly, and hold an exercise ball between your feet. Engage your abs, and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  • As you inhale, squeeze the ball, and lift your legs, arms, and chest off the floor. Hold for a count of 10 and then slowly release your body back to the floor.
  • Perform as many reps as you can in one minute.
  • To make this move a little easier, you can lose the stability ball.

Number Two: Warrior 3

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  • Stand with your feet together. Inhale as you extend your arms out wide in a T position or straight overhead for a more advanced variation.
  • Exhale as you bend forward at your hips, lifting your right leg straight behind you coming into Warrior 3. Draw your navel toward your spine and hold for five breaths. Then come to stand, lower your right leg, and repeat with the left leg lifted for another five breaths.
  • Continue this movement for one minute.

Number Three: Pilates Mat Swimming

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  • Begin on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you.
  • Keeping your neck neutral and in line with your spine, lift your feet, arms, and chest from the floor.
  • Begin to "swim" by lifting your opposite arm and leg a little higher, then alternate sides, making a fluttering motion.
  • Continue this movement for one minute.

Number Four: Bent Row

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  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees. Fold your torso forward so your back is almost parallel with the floor and your arms are extended out, in line with your shoulders. Draw your abs in to protect your lower back.
  • As you exhale, bring your elbows toward your shoulders and close to your side. To get the upper back working, think of sliding your shoulder blades together. As you inhale, slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. This counts as one rep.
  • With control, perform as many reps as you can in one minute.

Number Five: Marching Bridge

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  • Lie on your back with your hands by your side, with your heels about 12 inches from your pelvis. Press your heels into the floor to come into a bridge position with a neutral spine.
  • Press your right heel into the floor, and keeping your knee bent, raise your left leg until your hip is a 90 degrees. Lower your left leg down, pressing through your glutes so your pelvis doesn't drift to the floor along with the leg. This completes one rep; switch sides and lift your right leg for your second rep.
  • Perform as many reps as you can (alternating legs) in one minute.
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