Are you interested in building your muscles but have no access to weights? Most people imagine that back workouts require advanced machines and weights for amazing outcomes. However, that is not the case all the time because your body weight can equally do the magic, as long as you correctly do the recommended back workouts without weights.
Working for long hours while sitting will do injustice to your back, same to lazing in bed on a day off. Betterhealth Channel describes sitting or lying down (sedentary lifestyle) as the new smoking, which increases the risks of you being overweight, obese, and developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease, among others (9). Poor posture may result in poor spine health, for example, compression in the discs in your spine that may lead to very painful premature degeneration (9). Therefore, you need to engage in some helpful workouts.
Back Workouts Without Weights: Keep Your Back Muscles Strong And Steady!
What are the best bodyweight exercises for the back? Safe back workouts are important in helping you reset it for better functioning. The good news is that you don’t need to enroll in a gym or purchase expensive workout equipment. Below are several effective back workouts, which you can do at home without weights that you should consider.
How To Do Back Workouts Without Weights?
What workouts target the upper and lower back without weights? The following exercises are categorized according to the part of the back that they exercise. Each workout has an elaborate procedure to ensure that you do it right, and as a result, strengthen the key muscles, preventing back issues and hunched shoulders.
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Lower Back Workouts Without Weights
The lower back, also known as the lumbar area, is the back region below the ribcage 11. Exercises include:
Also known as Hip Hinge, this exercise works the hips, lower back, legs, and hamstrings.
- First, put your hands on your hips, then your feet should be between hip and shoulder-width apart and firmly holding the ground.
- Slightly bend your knees, and make the back flat for ease when hinging forward at the hips to do this workout.
- Begin by engaging the core. Place your neck neutrally, then slowly push your ribs down and slightly pull your shoulders back.
- Slowly and gently bend at your waist forward. Keep your shoulders aligned with the hips.
- Then, bend forward parallel or slightly above parallel to the floor. Return to the start position and repeat the above steps 10-15 times, then take 30-60 seconds rest before doing another set.
- Your back, hamstrings, and glutes should be engaged throughout the workout.
- Lastly, the form is critical to this workout; therefore, you should perfectly make the moves to avoid injury and to benefit from the exercise. Note that rounding the back may displace the spine from its neutral position.
- If you are a beginner, perform this workout while seated in a chair, shoulders over the hips, and legs bent at 45-degrees. Place the feet firmly under your knees, hands on hips, and core engaged. Slightly pull shoulders back, then bend forward to a 45-degree angle before coming back to the start position (1).
It strengthens and builds the lower back.
- First, lie with your face up then obtain balance by putting your hands on the floor near your hips.
- Raise your butt by pushing through the heels and tightening your glutes.
- Push your hips up until they are in a straight line with your knees and shoulders.
- Then slowly bring back your body to the floor while keeping the abs engaged.
- Repeat this 10-12 times, thrice.
- Make sure that your abs are engaged to prevent the back from overextending.
Downward Dog Pose
Also called Adho Mukha Svanasana, this is the best stretch for the lower back (2).
- Kneel with hands straight below the shoulders, fingers widely spread.
- Tuck your toes as you engage the abs while pushing your body up. Only your hands and feet should be left on the floor.
- Press through your hands as you gently move your chest towards your thighs and the heels towards the floor.
Read More: Yoga vs Stretching: Who’s The Winner in this Ongoing Debate?
It works the hips and the lower back.
- First, place your torso on the bench or table while lying on your stomach. The crease of your hip should be at the end of the bench and your feet should rest on the grounds (1). To support yourself, your hands should firmly hold the benches underside.
- Now, slowly lift both your legs together in the air, as high as possible. By doing this, you will be engaging your lower back, particularly the glutes, hips, abdominals, and spinal erectors. Beginners may lift one leg at a time.
- At the top of the movement, your toes should be pointing away from your body and above your head.
- Firmly engaging almost all muscles in your body, hold on to this static position for 5 seconds before dropping your feet slightly below the bench. Then, contract again for 4 more reps.
- With 30-60 seconds of rest between the sets, repeat for 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Beginners should move the hips slightly further up the bench to better support the trunk
It extends the lower back into flexion and activates the vertebrae of the upper spine (7).
- Go down on all fours. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, and take a deep breath.
- While exhaling, push your belly towards the spine. Your back will curve to the ceiling.
- Maintain this position for 5 seconds, then gently bring your back down to normal.
Others also include prone press-up, cat-cow stretch, and pelvic tilt.
Upper Back Workouts Without Weights
The upper back is the region between the base of the neck and the ribcage’s bottom (10). It has 12 bones referred to as the thoracic spine. Exercises include:
Reverse Snow Angels
It works the upper back, mid-back, lats, and shoulders.
- Lie face on the ground, legs straight behind you.
- Place your arms straight on the sides, palms facing down.
- Raise the arms slightly above the ground by pinching your shoulder blades together.
- Engage your lats and mid-back, bringing your outstretched arms beyond your shoulders, then slowly past your ears in a controlled manner.
- Thumbs should meet above your head before bringing your arms down to your sides to complete one rep.
- Return to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Your elbows should be straight, and your arms reach long all the time.
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This is one of the chest and back workouts without weights that works on the lats, chest, shoulders, quads, and core muscles.
According to Cheatsheet (8),
- First, lie on your back and legs straight out in front of you on the ground.
- Put your hands behind your head, then initiate a sit-up and complete it.
- At the top of the move, jump to stand, then jump back down into a push-up position.
- Complete the push-up, then jump back on your feet into a squat, followed by another jump straight upwards to complete one rep of the burpee.
- Get back to the sitting position and repeat.
Walk-Outs With A Push-Up
It works the chest, shoulders, lats, and core.
Cheatsheet recommends the following steps (8)
- In a standing position, hinge at the hips with soft knees until you touch the ground with flat palms.
- Retaining the feet position, walk out with your hands until you attain a push-up position with hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Finish the push-up, then walk your hands back. This will be one rep, so repeat.
Workouts Without Weights For The Entire Back
These are exercises whose impact is felt by all parts of the back, i.e., upper back, lower back, and the middle back, consisting of the spinal column, spinal cord, discs, ligaments, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and tendons (6). They include:
It works the upper back, lower back, abs, cores, glutes, and shoulders. They strengthen the erector spinae muscles, which support the spine (5).
According to DailyBurn (1)
- Lying on your stomach, face down, chin on the ground and eyes neutrally gazing, let your ankles touch with toes pointed under you.
- Stretch your arms straight and long above your shoulders (by your ears), palms resting flat on the ground. Your legs should be straight behind you with the ankles touching.
- Pull your shoulders a few inches from the ground to engage your glutes, back, abdominals, arms, and shoulders. At the same time, lift the straightened legs a few inches off the surface. Use the back to power your lift instead of the glutes (5).
- Your arms and legs should stay fully contracted for your hands and feet to be raised to the same relative height at the top of the static hold position.
- Remain in this position, fully engaging your body to fly like Superman, then lower your arms and legs so that they hover just above the ground before lifting them again.
- With 30-60 seconds rest between sets, repeat for 3 reps each with a 15-30 seconds static hold.
If you are a beginner, perform an Aquaman, a variation of Superman, by:
- First, simultaneously lifting and lowering your opposite arm and a leg like Superman. For instance, raise your right arm and lower your left leg as much as you can, then the opposite ones.
- Maintain this position for 5 seconds, and repeat. Do this 10 times, then take a 1-minute rest, before beginning the second set. You may do 3 sets.
There are various ways of doing the superman exercise. For instance, in Y superman, you reach your arms out in front to form a Y shape, while in W superman, you put your palms on the ground on either side of your chest in line with your head, then when squeezing, the upper back of your arms should form something like W shape when you lift them (3). Others include the T superman, pull-up superman, and dead stop to Superman. The Superman plank works the glutes, shoulders, core, and lats.
- Lie on a comfortable surface, for example a yoga mat.
- Remember to keep your neck long, in line with the spine. Don’t look up because it will uncomfortably stretch your neck.
- When you rise, exhale. Inhale when you lower down and continue taking shallow breaths during the hold.
They are best for strengthening the latissimus dorsi (back muscles that wrap around the torsos sides). If you do not have a pull-up bar, you can use any bar that is high enough for you to hang without the feet touching the ground.
Steps For Assisted Pull-Up:
- First, loop a workout band over the bar, pull its bottom loop down, then put one foot into it.
- Jump up and grab to the pull-bar using an overhand or underhand grip, engaging your lat muscles.
- Pull yourself up. Your chin should be above the bar.
- Slowly go back to the start position.
- Gradually lessen the resistance of the exercise band until you can do an unassisted pull-up.
- You can wrap your free leg around the stirrup for more control.
- Always maintain the engagement of your lats during the workout.
- Exhale and inhale as you pull yourself up and lower yourself down respectively.
These isometrically used in the upper and lower back hence can strengthen the spine.
- First, move your hips back.
- Lower your torso by bending the hips and knees, then pause for a few seconds before standing to repeat the steps.
- Return to the upright position, then repeat the move.
Read More: Squats vs Lunges: Which One of These Time-Honored Exercises is More Effective?
This works the lower back, upper back, glutes, and core. It targets the back’s stabilizer muscles, including the erector spinae (5).
- Begin by lying on your back, both feet on the floor and knees bent.
- Put your arms by the sides, palms down.
- Push through your heels, and using the glutes, lift your hips.
- When you reach the maximum point, lift one foot off the ground—balance here for a few seconds before placing it back down.
- Switch to the other foot, keeping the hips lifted.
- Do not let your glutes do all the work.
- Avoid arching your lower back.
It is a push-up variation that works the entire back, particularly the triceps, hips, chest, lats, and shoulders.
- In the usual push-up position, place your arms directly under your shoulders, with your back flat.
- Bend your right leg in a way that your foot will be close to your behind while balancing with the left one to retain the push-up position.
- Lower your chest to the ground. Make sure you keep your elbows close to the sides.
- Push back up.
- Repeat the same steps five to eight times on one side, then switch to the other leg.
Also known as Bhujangasana, this move strengthens the back, abs, and legs.
- First, lie with your face on the ground.
- Hold your stomach tight. Place your hands on the same level as the shoulders.Your elbows should be tucked tightly into your body.
- Then, press your hips and legs firmly into the floor and lift your torso by pushing into your hand.
- Maintain the position for 15–30 seconds, then repeat the steps.
- When lifting, go slowly without straining at the top.
- Point your elbows back, not out, to prevent straining them and the neck.
Other Back Workouts For Mass Without Weights
Wide Grip Push-Up
It engages the latissimus dorsi, biceps, and serratus anterior (12).
According to Men’s Health (3):
- Begin in a plank position; hands placed slightly outside your chest.
- Keep your spine straight by squeezing the glutes and core.
- Slowly bend your elbows out as you lower the chest to the ground. At the same time, squeeze your back at the bottom of the movement.
- Engage the cores while pressing into your hands to push back up to the start position.
Other effective push-up variations include the T-pushup, which involves rotating one side of the body up, raising the arms straight up as you squeeze the chest to lift yourself back up, before repeating on the other side. The scapular push-up works the lats, core, and shoulders. You also begin in the usual push-up position, hands shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Keep your arms straight as you squeeze the shoulder blades apart and together.
Nose And Toes Against The Wall
This is an advanced exercise; thus, you should be very careful when performing it, even if you are experienced.
Also known as the Headstand Healthy Celebs recommends the following steps (1):
- Get to a push-up position, then place your feet against the wall.
- Ensuring that the core is tight, hips flexed, and spine neutral, walk your feet up the wall.
- With palms firmly on the floor and positioned slightly outside the shoulder width, begin to move your hands towards the wall.
- The climax is when only the nose and toes touch the wall, while the hands are firmly holding the floor, and your core is rigid for a hollow body position.
- Walking your hands away from the wall and bringing your feet down in a controlled way, safely come down by walking your hands away from the wall to complete one round of the exercise. With 30-60 seconds rest between sets, repeat for 3 reps with 15-30 seconds static hold.
- Stand with your back against a wall; feet spread wide apart.
- Bend your knees, then put your hands firmly on the ground. The hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Straighten your legs a little and start walking your hands in towards your feet with the head neutrally aligned with the spine.
- Push your glute, actively, to the ceiling. The core and back should remain rigid, and the shoulders should open up.
Also known as Setu Bandhasana.
- Start by lying on the floor.
- Bend your knees.
- Then, place your feet on the floor.
- Suck in your stomach.
- As your hands try to grab the back of your feet, lift your pelvis and butt as high as possible.
According to Scoop Whoop, the steps to be followed are (2):
- Go down on all fours.
- Raise your left arm and right leg to shoulder level.
- Look straight ahead, then maintain this posture for a few seconds.
- Bring your leg and arm down, then switch to the opposite ones.
- You should know yourself and engage in workouts that are aspirational and rational.
- Always warm-up before any exercise to get the most out of it and prevent injury.
- Always breathe normally while doing the exercises.
- Try to push yourself every time you do these back workouts.
- Do not sit down all day long. Engage in physical activities such as walking from one desk to another or taking the stairs every hour.
Back workouts without weights will enhance your appearance by making you look perfect in whatever you wear, prevent back pain, and help maintain functional movement, among other benefits. With this detailed guide, you have numerous options to select from. Remember to get approval from your doctor and consult a personal trainer before beginning these workouts to avoid injury.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 No-Equipment Back Exercises You Need in Your Life (2018, dailyburn.com)
- 10 Exercises For A Stronger Back You Can Do At Home Without Any Equipment (scoopwhoop.com)
- 11 Bodyweight Exercises to Build Your Back (2019, menshealth.com)
- 15 Bodyweight Workouts for a Super Strong Back (2020, greatist.com)
- Back Exercises Without Weights (2019, livestrong.com)
- Middle Back Pain (2020, healthgrades.com)
- Simple Yet Effective Lower Back Stretches (2020, verywellhealth.com)
- The Best 10-Minute Back Workout You Can Do With No Equipment (2018, cheatsheet.com)
- The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking (n.d, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- What are the most likely causes of upper back pain? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Is Low Back Pain? (2019, webmd.com)
- Yes, Wide-Grip Push-Ups Are Very Different from Regular Push-Ups (2018, shape.com)