7 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises
While picking back workouts, you want to select exercises that touch on all muscles: lats, traps, rhomboids and deltoids. Probably you are thinking of all sorts of equipment you should buy to do all that – barbells, cable machine and dumbbells. Well, guess what? You don’t.
There are numerous bodyweight back exercises that you will find helpful, some of which you can do in the comfort of your living room. All that is required is a pull-up bar and a suspension trainer. This post highlights 7 bodyweight exercises that will go a long way in benefiting your back!
1. Pull-up or Chin-up variations
For those, seeking to develop V-shaped torsos, pull-ups and chin-ups are must-do exercises. These aim at the lats, building width in the process. The lats, meaning latissimus dorsi, are the large muscles forming on the upper side of the body just beneath the arms. They are responsible for giving the torso a wider, flared shape. Many people wish to have these muscles due to their ability to make one look slimmer even without losing an inch of their middle part.
This classic exercise comes in numerous variants as described below. Some are easy back exercises, while others, expectedly, will require you to have a tough resolve to proceed with them.
One tip to follow: every time you pull your chest towards the bar, imagine yourself pulling the shoulder blades to the back pockets. To do so, you will be required to use the upper back muscles instead of the biceps.
In all the following back exercises, begin with a dead hang and then proceed to pull your chest to the bar.
Chin-up: Use your shoulder-width underhand grip to grab the bar.
Neutral-grip pull-up: The chin-up station has got parallel handles. Grab these in such a manner that the palms face each other.
Mixed grip chin-up: With your hands, shoulder-width placed apart, use one hand to make an underhand grip and the other an overhand grip.
Pull-up: The movement involved here is similar to chin-up only that the bar is grabbed with an overhand grip which is a little bit wider than the shoulder width.
ISO pull-up: Just do a pull-up as you are used to, except that you make sure the chin is held above the bar for some 10 – 15 seconds. This can be done by several reps or during your last rep of the pull-up sets.
2. Single Arm Suspension Row
This is one of the most underrated exercises which I believe pretty much everyone should try it. It is essential in developing the strength of your upper back, quadratus lumborum, and scapula stability, thus ensuring the back is fully stabilized.
This is the kind of exercise that has the potential to hit multiple muscles, all in a single move. It is essential for the coordination of an athlete.
Performing the exercise
Begin by lengthening the suspension rope to the extent that you feel most comfortable with. Remember, the more the slack, the higher the level of difficulty. Conversely, a shorter rope means an easier exercise. Most pros suggest starting higher as you go down the ladder.
After everything is set up, what you have to do is firmly grip both handles, and bring about some tension on the suspension. While leaning backward, begin to walk your feet forward. At a slow pace, lower yourself down to a position where you are stable. As you continue doing so, wait for the moment when the abs are tight and then pull up.
There are some considerations that you ought to pay attention to. These include:
Fast descent: Always ensure that you slowly lower your body down. There are a couple of people who just make a sudden descent, which can potentially aggravate your shoulders.
Hip swing: A rule of this exercise is that the hips and shoulders have to be in a straight line. However, it reaches a point where the level of difficulty forces you to slightly swing the hips. That is wrong because you end up placing unnecessary stress on the back. Counter this by shortening the suspension.
Rotation: As already pointed out, this is a tough exercise and there are cases you may begin to lose stability. Under such cases, feel free to increase the height or choose a simpler exercise. You won’t be blamed for having taken a step backward. It only becomes problematic when you keep trying an advanced maneuver that probably you are not well prepared for. Chances of getting an injury under such cases are high.
3. Rotational Deadlift
Rotational Deadlift gives you every reason to love it, but all these are superseded by the fact that you can do it at any place of your choosing. The only requirement is your body and the know-how to go about the matter. It is somewhat a mild back bodyweight back workout that will help get your back in order.
Many wonder whether the deadlift is squat or hinge. For starters, this isn’t even a big deal. After all, there is both hip dominance and knee dominance. There may be no clear classification of the exercise but what matters the most is its execution.
How to Perform:
- Begin by assuming the following posture: you are standing on the left leg, the right leg behind with the right toes touching the floor. Slightly bend both knees and place your hands on the back of your head with the elbows wide apart.
- Keeping your back straight, pull the abdominal muscles towards the spine and hinge forward starting at the hips to a point where the torso is almost parallel to the floor
- Ensuring the back is flat, return to standing by pressing through the left heel. Twist your torso to the left over the front left as you do this. Feel free to include the shoulders. Make sure the pelvis and hips are still and face forward. This will mark the end of one rep.
- You are advised to do 12 reps before switching sides. Complete at least three sets of each leg.
4. Reverse Planks
The importance of the Plank is to tighten your abdominals in order for the lower back not to sag. This is a better exercise for training the core compared to traditional Crunches. But the basic Plank may not be entirely satisfactory. If you feel you are done with basic stuff, then it’s about time to take things a notch higher with the Reverse Plank.
You do not require any special equipment for the Reverse plank and almost everyone can do it. Contrary to the basic Plank, this exercise is focused on re-igniting muscles that are under-utilized.
How to Perform:
- The exercise is performed by having you sit on the floor
- Stretch your legs in front of you and place your palms on the floor, just some few inches behind the hips.
- With the fingers opened, press into the palms
- Lift your hips in such a manner that your torso is direct to the ceiling
- Continue to look at the ceiling and point your toes
- Your legs and arms should be straight throughout this exercise. Additionally, hold the whole of your body in such a manner that you make a straight line, starting from the head to the heels, and then squeeze your core.
- You are supposed to feel as though you are pulling your bellybutton to the spine
Aim at making reverse plank for about 20 to 30 seconds in each repetition. If you feel as though you stomach is sagging or your hips have dropped, stop right away by slowly lowering yourself to the floor. Continue with exercise in such a position will not benefit you and can potentially harm you.
This is a challenging exercise and even people taking it for the first time but have abs find it a challenge.
5. Alternating Superman Exercise
This is an essential bodyweight back exercise that greatly strengthens the participant’s lower back. This exercise helps your back by strengthening the abdominal muscles. Its popularity is increased by the ease of use and flexibility.
How to Perform:
- With your neck placed in a neutral position, lie facing downwards while the arms and legs are spread out
- Raise one arm at a slow pace simultaneously with the opposite leg to the point where they are some inches from the floor
- Hold the arm and leg at this position for a couple of seconds
- Gently go back to the original position
It is important to remember that the legs and arms have to be straight throughout. Use the time you are lifting your arms and legs to exhale and then inhale as you slowly bring them down.
Avoid making common mistakes that most people do including:
Holding breathes – Since you are facing down, there are chances you are finding it to breathe in a normal way. But remember you require oxygen; actually, your muscles need plenty of it. By breathing continuously, you ensure the core is stable while exercise results are made better.
Pointing the foot – This is something that happens naturally as you exercise but do your best to keep off pointing your foot as you raise it. Doing so shifts the focus from the core and evenly distributes on the legs. Maintain this work in the core by ensuring the foot is perpendicular to the floor. This is a great exercise. Avoid cheating to enjoy the best results. In the long run, you will improve your oblique and lower back.
Failing to hold the position – It is important that you hold your position just before you head back to the original state. As you do so, feel the contraction on the side and lower back. You may fail to feel this in case you haven’t held your position correctly.
6. Front Squat
Maybe very few people would have guessed this squat variation will make it to the list of back exercises. One thing you should know is that front squats greatly contribute to strengthening the upper back. The exercise involves placing a barbell on your body, thus, the back muscles are forced to work hard in keeping the torso upright less you risk tipping forward.
To have a perfect front squat, follow these three tips:
Improve uniform mobility: Before you squat, ensure you have done shoulder dislocates. As the bar rests on your shoulder, it is important that it gets support from all involved sectors, including the wrists, shoulders and fingertips in addition to lats, forearms, and triceps. Assist in holding the weight at your shoulder by foam rolling your thoracic region and lasts.
Begin with Goblet Squatting: Goblet squats can greatly help you do a front squat since they involve placement of load in front of your body. With the load in front, you are assured of a more vertical torso and thus better enhancement of the back.
Do not forget the cues: Most people tend to focus on flexibility and mobility, failing to concentrate on the right cues. Most familiar errors include allowing for the torso to fall forward, elbows dropping too much in and out movement of the knees and insufficient depth. The resultant is a poor quality front squat that doesn’t benefit much from your back.
7. Bent-over Under-hand Barbell row
As opposed to other variations of the row such as the single-arm dumbbell row, this version permits you to have more weight. By using heavier rods, more muscles grow in the rotators cuff muscles, upper traps, rhomboid minor, rear deltoids and middle traps.
Rhomboids are the small muscles attached to your shoulder blades. They begin from the spine. They are normally weakened as a result of the amounts of time we seat on the coach, desks or in cars.
Use an underhand grip to grab the barbell, holding it at arm’s length. With your torso lowered to the position where it’s almost parallel to the floor, bend both the hips and knees. Allow the bar hang at arm’s length. Continue to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull the bar to the upper abdominal muscles. Pause then begin going back to the original position.