If you go to a gym, you have many options for exercising your back. You can use barbells, dumbbells, and various machines to create an effective back workout. Even if you choose exercises randomly, like pulldowns and rows, you’ll still get some results.
But what if you can’t go to the gym? Maybe you prefer to work out at home or you only want to use your body weight. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises for legs and core, as well as different variations of push-ups. But how can you work out your back without weights or machines? Pull-ups are a great starting point, but what other exercises can you do?
So, here we’ll share 10 best calisthenic back workout for beginners so that you can strengthen your lats, traps, rhomboids, and erector spinae muscles anywhere and at any time.
What Is Calisthenics
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that primarily relies on utilizing the weight of your own body and doesn’t rely on the use of complex or expensive equipment. Instead, it focuses on performing movements that engage large muscle groups, such as pushups, squats, and lunges. These exercises are typically performed at a moderate pace, allowing for controlled and deliberate movements.
Calisthenics has a long history, originating in Ancient Greece, where it was recognized for its effectiveness in developing physical prowess. Over time, it has remained popular and continues to be practiced today by people of various fitness levels and backgrounds. One of the great advantages of calisthenics is that it is accessible to everyone, regardless of their athletic ability. Most of the exercises can be performed without the need for specialized equipment, making it a versatile and convenient form of exercise.
Benefits Of Back Calisthenics: Why Choose Bodyweight Exercises For A Stronger Back
When it comes to strengthening your back, calisthenics training offers a practical and efficient approach to enhancing posture, strength, and body composition, all without the need for extensive training equipment. Here are the numerous advantages:
- Safety: With this, the risk of injury is minimal when performed with proper form and technique.
- Joint-Friendly: Bodyweight movements put less strain on your joints, reducing the likelihood of pain and discomfort, making it ideal for those with joint issues or a history of joint-related injuries.
- Comprehensive Workout: These exercises engage multiple muscles in your back simultaneously, including lats, traps, rhomboids, and erector spinae, providing a well-rounded workout for overall back strength and development.
- No Equipment Needed: Back calisthenics require minimal or no equipment, apart from a pull-up bar, allowing you to exercise anywhere, be it at home, in a park, or while traveling, offering convenience and flexibility in your workout routine.
- Adjusting Intensity: By controlling the speed of your movements, you can tailor your workout to your goals. Slower movements emphasize strength and muscle building, while faster-paced exercises offer cardiovascular benefits, improving your heart health.
By choosing back calisthenics, you can achieve a stronger back without relying on weights or machines. This approach grants you the freedom to customize your routine according to your preferences and goals, enabling you to exercise in various locations.
10 Best Exercises For Beginners
Here are ten of the best calisthenics back exercises for beginners to begin their fitness journey:
The pull-up is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscles simultaneously, with a primary focus on the back and biceps. It involves lifting your entire body upwards until your chest reaches close to the bar.
Performing this can be challenging for beginners, but they are highly effective for developing a strong and broader back.
Here are the steps to perform a pull-up:
- Hang onto a pull-up bar with your hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, gripping the bar with your palms facing away from you. Your hands should be positioned over the bar.
- Engage your back muscles and initiate the movement by pulling yourself up towards the bar. Focus on contracting your back muscles throughout the exercise.
- Continue pulling until your chin crosses the bar, indicating that your back is fully engaged at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position, ensuring that your arms are fully extended. This completes one repetition of the exercise.
- Avoid any jerking or sudden movements during the exercise, maintaining a controlled and smooth motion throughout the entire range of motion.
It’s important to note that proper form is crucial when performing pull-ups. Focus on maintaining good posture, engaging the target muscles, and avoiding excessive swinging or momentum.
As a beginner, you may need to start with modified variations, such as assisted pull-ups using a resistance band or assisted pull-up machine, to gradually build strength and improve your ability to perform unassisted pull-ups.
The inverted row is an effective exercise for strengthening the upper body, particularly the back. It is suitable for beginners and can be incorporated into your calisthenic back workout to efficiently develop your back muscles.
Here are the steps to perform the inverted row:
- Set the barbell at waist height so that you can fully extend your arms while keeping your body off the floor.
- Lie on your back on the floor underneath the bar, with your head positioned towards the bar.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip, placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms fully straight.
- Position your body a few inches off the floor, with your heels planted on the ground and toes facing upward. This is your starting position.
- Engage your core muscles to maintain stability throughout the exercise.
- Pull your chest towards the bar by bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Your body should move in an upward motion.
- Hold the position with your chest touching the bar for a couple of seconds to maximize the contraction in your back muscles.
- Slowly lower your body back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
- Each completed movement from the starting position to chest touching the bar and back is considered one repetition (rep).
- Repeat the exercise for the maximum number of reps you can perform with proper form.
During the inverted row, it’s important to keep your body straight from top to bottom, avoiding any excessive sagging or arching. Maintain a slow and controlled pace throughout each rep.
Remember to keep your core muscles tight and your head in a neutral position, aligned with your spine, throughout the movement.
The Superman exercise is a highly advantageous exercise that promotes strength and endurance, benefiting not just the back but the entire body.
Here are the steps to perform superman exercise:
- Lie prone on an exercise mat with your arms fully extended in front of you.
- Simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the ground, creating a stretch that engages the erector spinae muscles of your back. Utilize the strength of your upper back to keep your upper body raised.
- Hold this raised position for a few seconds, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging the targeted muscles.
- Slowly lower your arms and legs back down to the starting position. This completes one repetition.
Supermans are an accessible exercise that require little skill and can be included as part of a preventive routine to help protect the back from injuries and improve mobility in the thoracic spine.
The bridge exercise is an effective way to engage and strengthen the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Here are the steps to perform bridge exercise:
- Lie on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, positioned hip-width apart.
- Ensure that your arms are resting comfortably by your sides.
- Press through your heels, engaging your glutes and hamstrings, and lift your hips off the ground. As you lift, focus on creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold this position for a few seconds, feeling the contraction in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the descent.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
During the bridge exercise, it’s important to keep your core muscles engaged and maintain proper alignment. Avoid arching your back excessively or allowing your knees to flare out.
By performing bridges, you can effectively activate and strengthen your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, contributing to improved overall strength and stability in your posterior chain.
The glute bridge exercise is highly effective for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. While it is often associated with helping to shape the buttocks, it actually engages the entire posterior chain, including some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body.
Here how to perform the glute bridge exercise:
- Start by lying on your back on the floor with your arms slightly outstretched for balance.
- Position your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and press them firmly into the ground.
- Engage your glutes and lift your hips off the floor, creating a bridge-like position with your body. Focus on squeezing your glute muscles throughout the movement.
- Lower your hips back down to the floor in a slow and controlled manner.
- Complete a set of 10-12 repetitions of the glute bridge exercise for three sets.
During the exercise, remember the following tips:
- Drive through your glutes to prevent overextension of the back, ensuring that the movement primarily originates from your hip area.
- Keep your head looking up towards the ceiling or slightly tilted down towards your legs, but avoid tucking it behind you.
- To progress the exercise, you can try a single-legged variation where one foot remains elevated off the ground while performing the bridge.
By incorporating the glute bridge exercise into your routine, you can effectively target and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, promoting overall posterior chain development.
The cobra pose primarily targets the back muscles, including the spine. It also engages the legs and helps to open the chest and shoulders.
Here’s how to perform the glute bridge exercise:
- Start by lying prone on the floor.
- Place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, keeping your elbows tucked tightly into your body.
- Press your hips and legs firmly into the floor and use your hands to lift your torso up. As you do this, you will feel a stretch through your abdominal muscles and the muscles in your back engage.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds, focusing on maintaining proper form and breathing deeply.
To ensure proper alignment and avoid strain, remember the following tips:
- Reduce strain on your elbows by facing them back, rather than out to the sides.
- Avoid overextending your back to the point of pain. Find a comfortable range of motion where you can feel a gentle stretch without discomfort.
By practicing the cobra pose, you can strengthen your back muscles, improve spinal mobility, and promote overall flexibility and posture.
The jumping chin-up exercise is a helpful progression towards achieving a full, unassisted chin-up. It primarily targets the biceps and back muscles.
Here’s how to perform the jumping chin up:
- Find a sturdy object or bar that you can use as a pull-up bar.
- Stand in front of the bar and grab it with an underhand grip, positioning your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Jump up explosively, using your lower body strength to propel yourself upwards until your chin is above the bar, simulating the top position of a chin-up.
- Once you reach the top position, focus on controlling your descent by lowering your body back down slowly and in a controlled manner.
- Aim to complete 3 sets of at least 8 repetitions of the jumping chin-up exercise.
Here are some pro tips to enhance your performance:
- If your grip strength becomes a limiting factor, try finding a thinner bar or using liquid chalk to improve your grip.
- If you require assistance, a training partner can provide a “boost” by assisting you during the upward phase of the movement.
By incorporating jumping chin-ups into your routine, you can build strength in your biceps and back muscles, gradually progressing towards achieving a full, unassisted chin-up. Remember to focus on proper form, control your movements, and adjust the intensity as needed.
Weighted Wide Grip Pull Up
The weighted wide grip pull-up is an excellent exercise for targeting the biceps and back muscles, with a primary focus on building width of the back.
Here’s how to perform weighted wide grip pull up:
- Hang from a pull-up bar using a wide overhand grip, with your hands positioned wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Engage your back muscles and pull yourself upward until your chest is almost touching the bar and your eyes are above it.
- Lower your body back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.
- Aim to perform sets of at least 8 repetitions.
To further challenge yourself and increase the intensity of the exercise, you can add resistance by using a weight belt or a backpack filled with heavy objects.
Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- Lead the movement with your chest, focusing on pulling from the upper back muscles.
- Maintain natural arch of your back throughout the exercise.
- Ensure that your arms are fully straightened at the bottom of each rep to maintain proper form and avoid cheating.
By incorporating weighted wide grip pull-ups into your routine, you can effectively target your biceps and back muscles, specifically focusing on developing width of your back. Gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger to continue challenging your muscles and promoting growth.
Seal Jacks is an exercise that combines jumping jacks with a clapping motion to engage your back muscles and add a cardiovascular element to your workout.
Here’s how to perform Seal Jacks:
- Begin by standing with your feet together and your arms relaxed by your sides.
- Jump your feet out wide to the sides, simultaneously raising your arms out to the sides and up towards the front of your chest.
- As your feet are wide apart, clap your hands together in front of your chest.
- Jump your feet back together while simultaneously bringing your arms back down to your sides.
- Repeat the movement by jumping your feet out wide again and clapping your hands together in front of your chest.
Seal Jacks are an effective exercise for engaging your back muscles and providing a cardiovascular challenge. The jumping and clapping motion increases your heart rate, making it a great addition to your workout routine.
Bird Dogs are a beneficial exercise for targeting your lower back, glutes, and core muscles. Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Start by positioning yourself on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Ensure that your back is in a straight and neutral position.
- Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
- Extend your one arm straight forward in line with your shoulder, while simultaneously extending your opposite leg straight back in line with your hip. Keep your arm and leg parallel to the floor.
- Maintain a steady and balanced position, avoiding any excessive arching or rounding of your back.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, focusing on maintaining stability and engaging your target muscles.
- Return to the starting position by bringing your right arm and left leg back to the ground.
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite side by extending your left arm forward and your right leg backward.
Remember to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Keep your movements controlled and avoid any twisting or rotation of your torso. Focus on engaging your core muscles and maintaining stability to maximize the benefits of the exercise.
Incorporating calisthenics exercises into your back workout can be an effective way to strengthen your back muscles without the need for weights or machines. Pull-ups, inverted rows, and supermans are great exercises to target the back. Additionally, bridge exercises, glute bridges, and bird dogs can engage the lower back, glutes, and core muscles.
Seal jacks provide a cardiovascular component to your workout while engaging the back. Remember to focus on proper form, control your movements, and gradually increase intensity as you progress. With calisthenics, you can strengthen your back anywhere and at any time.
Dinky, a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey, has been working as a writer for more than four years, covering a wide variety of themes including current affairs, politics, fashion, celebrity news, and fitness. Oh, and when Dinky isn’t blogging about her favorite television shows, you can find her marathoning the very same shows on her couch.