If you've been slumped over your laptop while WFH, this upper body workout from Kelsey Wells is the antidote. All you need is a resistance band!
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When it comes to upper-body workouts, you might find that most focus on the "mirror muscles" (if it wasn't obvious, these are the muscles you see when you stand in front of the mirror) — think: your biceps, chest, and abs. But ignoring the muscles you have to look back at — in your upper body, that can often mean the large muscles in your back, your posterior delts, triceps, and transverse abdominis, which encircles your entire core — is setting you up for muscular imbalances, not to mention crappy posture.

With a little commitment and repetition, this back and shoulders workout from Sweat strength training pro Kelsey Wells, will help you stand up straighter, improve the muscle definition in your back and shoulders, and increase your overall upper-body strength.

The best part: All you need is a resistance band to get the job done. The benefits of using a resistance band for your strength training workouts are many: You can do the workout anywhere. Bands offer a low-impact alternative to using free weights. Plus, you can increase the resistance or tension just by shortening the band (either by folding it in half or gripping it tauter).

"When it comes to strength training, resistance bands are an easy and effective piece of equipment you can utilize to add extra load to your exercises without using weights," says Wells. (P.S. You can also use resistance bands to fake heavier weights with this genius hack.)

The below back and shoulders workout from Wells includes an activation to engage your upper body, a superset to help build strength in the back and shoulders, and a circuit to get the heart rate up through targeted exercises.

Kelsey Wells
Credit: SWEAT

20-Minute Back and Shoulders Workout

How it works: Do 3-5 minutes of a light warm-up to wake up your muscles and get your heart pumping. (Try jogging in place or doing jumping jacks.)

Next, you'll do four minutes of the activation exercises followed by three total rounds of the superset, taking 30 seconds of rest between each superset lap.

Then, you'll do three total rounds of the circuit — taking 30 seconds of rest between each circuit lap.

Finally, you'll cool down with 3-5 minutes of walking or static stretching to lower your heart rate.

You'll need: a moderate-weight, long, open-ended resistance band (Buy It, $13, amazon.com) and a yoga mat (Buy It, $20, was $30, amazon.com) for comfort

Activation

X-Plank

  1. Start in high plank position with hands under shoulders and legs extended, forming a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Inhale, stabilizing through core, lift hips and reach left hand toward right foot (or as far as possible).
  3. Exhale to lower hips and place left hand on mat to return to start. That's one rep.
  4. Repeat with the opposite hand. Continue alternating sides.

Do 20 reps.

Sprawl

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with toes turned slightly out. Lower into a squat, bending at hips and knees until quads are parallel to the floor, ensuring knees remain in line with toes and back remains within 45-90 degrees of hips to start.
  2. Inhale to place hands on the mat between feet, ensuring spine remains neutral. Jump both feet backward so legs are completely extended, coming into plank position, resting on balls of feet. Body should be in one straight line from head to heels.
  3. Exhale to jump feet forward outside hands, ensuring feet are wider than shoulders and feet are pointed out slightly. Release hands from the mat and elevate torso to return to start.

Do 10 reps.

Repeat activation exercises for a total of 4 minutes.

Superset

Standing Shoulder Press with Resistance Band

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with the middle of the resistance band under both feet. Hold the end of the band in front of shoulders with an overhand grip (palms facing away from body) to start.
  2. Inhale. Exhale, as you extend elbows and press band directly above head. Avoid "shrugging" by drawing shoulder blades down and back.
  3. Once arms are fully extended, inhale to bend elbows, lowering band to chest to return to start.

Do 12 reps.

Bent-Over Row with Resistance Band

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, the middle of the resistance band under both feet, and holding the ends of the band in either hand. While maintaining a slight bend in knees, hinge forward at hips so that torso is parallel to the floor. Extend arms directly below chest, holding band with a neutral grip (palms facing inward) to start.
  2. Inhale. Exhale to bend elbows to pull ends of the band toward lower ribs, ensuring elbows remain close to the sides of the body, squeezing shoulder blades.
  3. Inhale, extending elbows to return to start.

Do 12 reps.

Do 3 total rounds of the superset. Rest for 30 seconds between rounds.

Circuit

Side-to-Front Raise

  1. Stand with feet together, with the middle of the resistance band under both feet. With arms down by sides, hold one end of the band in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing inward) to start.
  2. Inhale. While maintaining slight bend in elbows, exhale and raise ends of band outward and upward to shoulder height. As they reach shoulder-height, move arms forward directly in front of chest, ensuring you draw shoulder blades down and back.
  3. Draw arms out to the sides until they're in line with shoulders again.
  4. Inhale, slowly lowering band to sides to return to start.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly

  1. Stand with feet together, with the middle of the resistance band under both feet. While maintaining slight bend in knees, hinge forward from hips so torso is parallel to floor. Extend arms directly below chest, holding one end of the band in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing inward). This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. While maintaining slight bend in elbows, exhale and pull the ends of the band outward and upward until arms are in line with shoulders, palms facing down, squeezing shoulder blades at top.
  3. Inhale, gently lowering band to return to start.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Seated Row

  1. While seated on the mat, extend both legs forward with feet together and flexed. Wrap the middle of the band around the bottom of both feet, and hold one end of the band in each hand.
  2. Sit tall and draw shoulder blades down and back. Extend arms forward, and hold ends of band with a neutral grip (palms facing inward) to start.
  3. Inhale. Exhale and bend elbows backward to increase tension in the band, ensuring elbows remain close to the sides of the body, squeezing shoulder blades.
  4. Inhale, extending elbows to return to start.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Do 3 total rounds of the circuit. Rest for 30 seconds between rounds.