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8 Powerful Bodyweight Exercises For Your Back

With gym memberships on the rise and the average working day getting longer, many people are looking for an alternative way to gain back muscle. Fortunately, there are countless bodyweight options that can be performed without equipment while still providing the desired results. These back exercises can easily be performed at home, in a park and many other places. This article will cover some of the most effective and popular bodyweight exercises for the back.

SEE ALSO: Chest Workouts at Home Without Equipment (Chest Sculpting Exercises)

Back Muscles

Although comprised of many muscles, both small and large, the back is one of the most noticeable areas on the human body. Whether wearing a shirt or not, a muscular back won’t go unnoticed. The latissimus dorsi, more commonly known as lats, make up the ‘wing’ portion of the back, extending from under the shoulders to somewhere in the bottom back (depending on the individual). The rhomboids are in the middle, upper back, while the trapezius sits on top near the neck.

Another main back muscle used in several exercises is known as the erector spinae. This muscle group runs along the spine and helps to bend the back. These are the main movers within the anatomy of the back and do the heavy pulling during bodyweight exercises. Different movements will target different parts of the back. Knowing these relationships will help you to create an effective bodyweight workout routine.

Here Are 8 Bodyweight Exercises For The Back:

  • Chin Ups
  • Isometric Hold Chin Ups
  • Reverse Snow Angels
  • Superman
  • Hip Hinge (aka Good Mornings)
  • Push-Ups
  • Scapula Push-Ups
  • Back Extensions on the Floor

1. Chin Ups

Chin ups are the classic bodyweight exercise for the back, and for good reason. They are one of the most effective back exercises for building muscle. At the same time, they are also one of the hardest as your entire body weight will be used. This exercise is performed using a high bar that is parallel to the ground. Chin ups primarily target the lats and biceps.


  • Reach your hands up to grab the bar with your palms facing you. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart
  • From here, use the strength in your arms and back to hoist yourself up until your chin reaches the bar.
  • Once your chin has reached the bar, begin to lower your body slowly back to the original position and repeat

2. Isometric Hold Chin Ups

Once you have gotten comfortable with the conventional chin up, there are some more difficult alternatives to try. Isometric hold chin ups use the same form as the normal chin up but add in a pause or hold halfway through the exercise. This exercise works the same muscles as the standard chin up while also working smaller, stabilizing muscles during the hold.


  • Reach your hands up to grab the bar with your palms facing you. Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart
  • Slowly pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar
  • During the descending portion, stop halfway when your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle and hold
  • Slowly release tension and lower your body to the starting position and repeat

3. Reverse Snow Angels

Reverse snow angels take the motions of a normal snow angel and reverse the form in order to put a stress on the back muscles. While reverse snow angels may have an intuitive form, it is important to execute them properly. The trapezius and lower back are the two main back muscles used in this exercise. Some other muscles such as the deltoids and abs are also used.


  • Begin laying chest down on the floor with arms extended above the head and legs in the opposite direction; palms and toes face down
  • Slowly raise your chest, arms, and legs and allow them to hover above the ground
  • Make the motion of a snow angel by allowing your arms and legs to come towards your waist
  • Bring arms and legs back to beginning position and repeat

4. Superman

The superman back exercise shares many similarities with the reverse snow angel, but it requires less movement. Instead of moving your arms and legs in a rotating motion, the superman only requires a lift off of the ground. Similar to the previous exercise, the lower back works the most during this routine.


  • Start by laying chest down on the ground with your hands extended forward and legs in the opposite direction; palms and toes should be facing down
  • Slowly raise your chest, legs, and arms off of the ground
  • Bring your chest, arms and legs back down to the ground and repeat

5. Hip Hinge (aka Good Mornings)

The hip hinge, also known as a good morning, is a surprisingly effective workout given the seeming simplicity of the movement. This exercise takes advantage of the weight of the upper body and the mobility of the waist. The entire posterior chain is the target for this workout with the spinal erectors and lower back doing a lot of work. It is often called a good morning because the soreness you’ll feel after the exercise is sure to wake you up.


  • Begin in a standing position with hands behind your head and a slight bend in the knees
  • Slowly bring your chest towards the ground by rotating at the hips while keeping backside still
  • When the chest is parallel to the ground, bring the upper body back to standing position.

6. Push-Ups

While push-ups are widely recognized as a standard chest exercise, you may be surprised to know that some back muscles are also involved in the movement. More specifically, the erector spinae muscle is strengthened during a push-up. This muscle runs along both sides of the spine and helps to maintain the back’s straight position during this exercise. A strengthened erector spinae can translate into a better posture as well as better spine health.


  • With hands, a bit wider than shoulder width, place your palms on the ground with fingers facing forward or slanted slightly; legs should be extended backward with toes on the ground
  • Hold your body above the ground with arms extended but not fully locked
  • Slowly allow your body to come towards the floor
  • Stop before touching the ground, push your body upwards and repeat

SEE ALSO: Can You Do Push Ups EVERY DAY?

7. Scapula Push-Ups

Despite the similar name, scapula push-ups are actually quite different than standard push-ups. In fact, they are often considered to be a more difficult exercise. Instead of focusing primarily on the chest, scapula push-ups work back muscles primarily. The exercise focuses on the movement of the scapula, which is more commonly referred to as the should blade. For this exercise, the rhomboids are one of the primary movers. It is important in this exercise to focus the movement on the shoulder blades as other parts of your body will naturally want to take the stress.


  • Begin in a plank position with palms and toes on the ground with fingers facing forward
  • Extend your arms and bring hands within shoulder width with toes about six inches apart
  • Slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together; the torso will naturally dip a bit
  • After the shoulder blades are close to touching, release the tension and return to the starting position and repeat

8. Back Extensions on the Floor

Back extensions are a simple exercise that can be performed on the floor. Not only do they help to strengthen back muscles, but also help to stretch and increase flexibility in the spine. This exercise is completed by lifting your chest off the ground using the strength of the lower back. The erector spinae does most of the work in a back extension.


  • Begin in a laying position with hands resting at your side and legs extended posteriorly
  • Slowly bring your chest and legs off the ground simultaneously using the strength of your lower back
  • Bring your chest and legs back down to the round and repeat

There is often a sense of hesitation surrounding the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises. Fortunately, you don’t have to operate under this misconception any longer. I have laid out some of the most popular and effective bodyweight exercises for the back. These exercises can be added to any bodyweight workout routine and are complementary to other movements. One of the greatest benefits is the freedom to workout anywhere and everywhere you please, without having to pay ridiculous fees at a gym.

SEE ALSO: 12 Badass Prison Style Workouts (Build Strong and Lean Muscles)