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Show off a sexy back like these hot celebs!

Last updated on: December 1, 2009 18:55 IST

Brinda Sapat and Dr Parul Kolhe

It's that time of the year again and while our friends and relatives are tying the marital knot, we're struggling to decide whether that knotted backless choli can be worn this season or not.

For those of us who have some extra flab and less than perfect skin on the back and shoulders, sexy clothing can be a nightmare. So first up, here are a few tips on how to get a tight, toned and sizzling back -- it's not that hard. And following the exercises, we have a skincare special on how to polish the skin on your back and keep it glowing!

Here's some technical stuff you need to understand. Your back, like the rest of your body has two tissues to deal with in order to look good. First is the superficial layer -- fat or flab -- and the second is muscle.

The fat needs to be 'burnt' off and the muscle has to be strengthened to see good shape. The only way to burn fat is through cardiovascular exercises like walking, swimming, cycling or aerobics for about 30 minutes 5-6 days a week. So pick the activity you enjoy and get moving!

Of course, you will have to follow a low fat diet by simply cutting out the high-calorie foods that you are currently consuming.

To tone and strengthen the muscles you need to resistance train. This will give your back beautiful shape and the exercises are outlined in the following pages.

Brinda Sapat is head of the Group Exercise Department at Gold's Gym, Napean Sea Road, Mumbai. Certified with Training Zone & Progressive Fitness (USA), she has been a fitness instructor for over a decade.

Dr Parul S Kolhe is an MBBS and holds a DDV & DNB in dermatology.

Toning and tightening exercises

Image: Show off a sexy back like Neha Dhupia with upright rows
Photographs: Rediff Archives, Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Here are 5 key resistance training exercises that should be performed 2-3 times a week. You will need a pair of dumbbells weighing approximately 3 kilos.

Warm up before you begin by jogging or running up and down the stairs for about 5 minutes.

Upright rows

Starting at the top, this exercise works the uppermost back muscle that connects your neck to your shoulders.

Stand with your feet hip distance apart, knees relaxed and back in a neutral (not arched nor rounded) position. Hold the dumbbells in your hands at your thighs, with your palms facing the thighs. Now lift the hands up to chest level ,taking your elbows out to the side and then slowly lower.

Do 16 repetitions.

Reverse flyes

Image: If you do reverse flyes, you can dare to bare like Sienna Miller
Photographs: Stephen Hird/Reuters, Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

This is for the muscles on and between the shoulder blades -- a great exercise for good posture.

Get into a lunge position with your chest parallel to the floor. Let the arms hang down, hands holding onto the dumbbells. Now lift the arms straight out to the side like wings and squeeze the shoulder blades in towards each other. Slowly lower.

Do 12 repetitions.

Bent-over rows

Image: Sport a choli like Aishwarya after bent-over rows
Photographs: Rediff Archives, Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

This exercise tones the large back muscles that connect your upper arm to the middle and lower back.

Once again in lunge position, let your weights hang down. Lift the weights up as if you were trying to lift 2 heavy suitcases off the floor. The elbow should sweep past your waist and the hands should stop close to the sides of your chest. Slowly lower.

Do 16 repetitions.

Back hyperextensions

Image: Maybe back hyperextensions are the secret to Eva Longoria's slim silhouette
Photographs: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters, Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Lie tummy down on a mat on the floor. Link your fingers and place them on your hips. Keep the nose turned down towards the mat. Lift your upper body till your chest clears off the floor as you squeeze the back. Lower gently.

Do 16 repetitions.

This exercise works the muscles that lie vertically close to your backbone.

Side lying hip raises

Image: Side lying hip raises will contour your back like model Carol Gracias
Photographs: Rediff Archives, Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

This works the same muscles as in the previous exercise, targeting them from a different angle so as to engage different muscle fibres.

Lie on your side and prop yourself up onto the bottom hand. Keep the bottom knee bent while the top leg should be extended. Now slowly lower your hip and just before it hits the floor, lift it up again.

Do 16 repetitions per side.

After you are done, come up on all fours and round your back and stretch it out.

These 5 exercises cover the entire back area, and combined with cardio, are sure to get you sizzling in your back-revealing number. But we're not done yet! It's now time to move on to the skincare aspect of things.

Skincare: Chemical peels

Image: Chemical peels help you get a glowing complexion like JLo
Photographs: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Acne or old acne scars, hairy backs, dull skin or pigmented and tanned skin are all total turn-offs. Whereas a smooth, supple-skinned, blemish-free, glowing back adds an unbeatable touch of glamour to any outfit.

Chemical peels done by a qualified dermatologist are the best way to get rid of acne and blemishes on the back. They involve a 20-30 minute procedure wherein your back is cleansed and prepared with pre-peel lotions. Then an alpha or beta hydroxyl acid or a combination thereof, is applied for a few minutes and neutralised. This helps the upper layers of skin to die and exfoliate over the next few days.

Done sequentially every 15-20 days for 5-6 sittings, most of the uneven, pigmented skin is shed off and replaced by smooth, glowing, even-toned skin. The drawback, however, is the time factor. You need 2-3 months to complete the sessions and get the full effect.

Back polishing

Image: Microdermabrasion 'polishes' your skin for a smooth look like Sushmita Sen
Photographs: Siu Chiu/Reuters

Back polishing or microdermabrasion is a hot favourite this season. It's done in two ways. In the 'crystal technique', aluminium oxide crystals are pumped at high velocity through a handpiece which is run over the back, physically abrading dead skin and carrying it away by suction. This is also called sand-blasting.

The other technique is using a diamond-tipped probe that is attached by vacuum suction to the skin and dragged along. In the process, the diamond-tipped abrader removes dead skin. There is a little discomfort and redness for a day or two, but at the end of it, you get a shining, rejuvenated back.

Do-it-yourself home remedies

Image: You can score like Beyonce if you use the right home remedies
Photographs: Hector Mata/Reuters

If you don't have the budget for state-of-the-art treatments, don't lose heart. You can buff up your back at home. Here are a few tips:

  • Massage your back with warm olive oil half an hour before bathing.
  • Ask a masseuse, if possible, to scrub it with the fleshy side of a cut-open aloe vera leaf for a few minutes for unbelievable moisturisation.
  • Use a loofah or body brush daily.
  • A handful of oats with a little milk and honey makes a great homemade scrub that can be used every day. Over just a few days, you'll begin to feel the softness and see the shine on your skin.
  • For dry and rough winter skin, use coarsely ground sesame (til) with rosewater and sandalwood paste as a scrub for 5-10 minutes every day. The natural oils in sesame seeds act as skin emollients and the coarse husk removes dirt and dead cells, giving smoothness.
  • Remember to use a good body moisturiser 2-3 times a day. Just before a party, a shine serum or body glitter or even sparkling body foundation can be applied for that shimmering look.

Now you're all set, so bring out the backless evening gown, that racy sari blouse and that tie-up, smokin' hot choli you've always wanted to wear. Walk past the crowd confidently, knowing that you're dazzling them with your face, then killing them with a view of your perfect back!