Bodyweight Back Exercises

Bodyweight Back Exercises

Are you looking for some simple bodyweight back exercises to build an impressive V-taper and strengthen your back?

If so, you’ve come to the right place because we are going to discuss some of the best back movements you can do with little to no equipment.

And even if you’re a member at a a full gym, it’s a good idea to have these bodyweight back exercises for days when you can’t get to the gym. Many of these exercises can be done at a park, or even at home.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

#1 Pull-Ups

A classic exercise that trains the entire back with emphasis on the latissimus dorsi (lats) for back width. This exercise does require a pull-up bar, or you can try to use a door but that can be challenging. A close grip pull-up can also work if a shoulder-width pull-up is still hard for you.

  1. Reach up, grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing forward.
  2. Pull yourself up, aiming to get your chin over the bar on each rep.

Secondary Muscles Worked Pull Ups

#2 Chin-Ups

Identical to pull-ups but placing slightly greater emphasis on the biceps because of their mechanically advantageous position. This exercise also requires a pull-up bar, and click to see our recommendation for a pull-up bar for home use.

  1. Almost the same as a pull-up. But, instead of having your palms facing forward, they must face back.
  2. You must use a slightly narrower grip (roughly shoulder-width apart).

Chin Up

#3 Inverted Rows

An easier bodyweight back exercise that allows you to modify the difficulty by adjusting the angle of your body. Here is a variation of the inverted row.

  1. Grab a horizontal bar (roughly hip height) and walk your feet forward to assume a more horizontal position so that you are looking up, with your body at a 45 deg angle. 
  2. Straighten your body and pull yourself to the bar, touching your chest to it. This is the up position. 
  3. Extend your arms to lower your body to the down position as you exhale. This is one rep. Repeat.

 

Inverted Row

#4 Plank With Arm Lift

A more advanced plank variation that builds core stability while developing the back and shoulders.

  1. Assume a plank position and lift one arm in front of your body.
  2. Hold for several seconds, plant the hand on the floor, and extend your opposite arm.
  3. Alternate from left to right.

 

Plank With Arm Lift

#5 Supermans

A fantastic movement that strengthens the entire back (primarily working the erector spinae) through back extension. (1)

  1. Lie face down on the floor, extend your body, and position your arms forward.
  2. Inhale and raise your upper torso and legs as high as you can.
  3. Hold for a moment and relax your body.

Lats Workout at Home - Supermans

#6 Hyperextensions

Another simple and effective exercise that works the entire back musculature through back extension.

  1. Set yourself up on a hyperextension bench with your feet secure and hips against the top pad.
  2. Inhale and lean your torso forward.
  3. Pause briefly and extend your body as you exhale.

Hyperextensions with Full Stretch

You can also use a regular bench if you don’t have a hyperextension bench. If you do, you’ll need to lock your legs on the bench, as it can be a challenging motion (the gif below makes it look easier than it actually is):

Hyperextensions on a Flat Bench

#7 Reverse Hyperextensions

A movement similar to the previous one that also develops the back through back extension.

  1. Lie face down on a solid workout bench with a good grip securing your body.
  2. The lower half of your body should be hanging off the bench, and your legs bent at a 90 deg angle. This is the start position.
  3. Slowly raise your legs until your feet point upward. Feel a pinch in your hamstrings and glutes (buttocks).
  4. Lower your legs to the start position in a controlled manner. Reverse Hyperextension

#8 Scapular Push-Ups

The scapular push-up is a simple and effective exercise that primarily targets the upper back (trapezius, rhomboids, etc.) and promotes scapular (shoulder blade) stability. (2)

  1. Assume a standard push-up position.
  2. Inhale and protract your shoulder blades, allowing your upper back to round as much as possible.
  3. Hold briefly and relax as you exhale.

How to Do a Scapular Push-up

Conclusion

There you have it: eight bodyweight back exercises, some of which don’t require any equipment, and some that require a pull-up bar.

The beauty of these movements is they target your back from different angles and in various ways, promoting balanced development.

Click to see some more bodyweight exercises:

Want to incorporate these exercises but you only have a short amount of time? Give our 30-minute bodyweight workout a shot. Click to return to bodyweight exercises.

Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of ThinkingLifter.com. He has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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References

  1. Erector spinae. Physiopedia. (n.d.).
    https://www.physio-pedia.com/Erector_Spinae
  2. Anatomy, back, Scapula – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.).
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531475/

Click to see our medical disclosure.