3 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises for Strong Back

by Matt Wilson
Last Updated: 22/03/2021
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3 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises for Strong Back

Tired of hearing about new lockdowns and seeing yourself at home lying in bed, watching movies and shows you already watched a million times?

Spending a lot of time in bed, without a workout is bad for your spine, back and health in general. You need a good list of back exercises to keep you in great shape and in complete control over your body.

There are probably millions and millions of bodyweight back exercises out there, but to make your life easier, I tried to find out what are the best bodyweight back exercises you can do in a gym or at home.

It wasn’t easy to choose between many powerful workouts which one are the best bodyweight back exercises, especially because some activated shoulder blades for example, or were great for your core, etc.

I wanted to give you a holistic approach and a list you can return to even after you developed hair-rising back muscles.

You don’t need to memorise in your head all of these bodyweight exercises, just make sure you keep this article somewhere safe, where you can always return for a read (like those magazines you kept in secret before the internet emerged).

Keep reading this article and you will learn what are the best bodyweight exercises, not just for back muscles but for developing various muscle groups in your body.

What Is the Cause of Weak Back?

Having back pain is like breathing, we all have this experience, some more then others. Some have a powerful upper body, and some are less resistant to injuries and experience more back pain.

There are a lot of reasons for this: Muscle strains or spasms, nerve injuries or some inborn flaws.

Older people tend to have spinal stenosis. Lifting heavy weight in an inappropriate way can lead to disc herniation and cause serious problems in the long run.

Having a pain in your lower back can disturb your daily activities. A research from 2018. has shown that back exercises can reduce lower back pain [1].

To strengthen your upper body and especially your spine, which is the main thing your upper muscles are protecting, you can try several very useful workout routines that are great for your muscles [2].

Bridges are an exercise that builds your gluteus maximus muscles, which are one of the strongest muscles in your body and very important for stabilizing your hips and lower back, each, if not properly supported, can create problems for your back.

To secure abdomen and additionally support the spine, you can do drawing in maneuver, a workout that targets transverse abdominis muscle groups. This can secure your spine and joints while protecting you from injuries.

 Bodyweight Back Exercises

  1. Supermens

Another great bodyweight back workout, that is fairly easy to do and it gives you the feeling you are a superman indeed (when you finish the exercise it goes without saying that you are Clark Kent again).

Supermens are probably the most popular workout routine among bodyweight exercises. Not just a bodyweight exercise for making your back strong, supermens are quite easy for a beginner to grasp.

For this back exercise, you need to lie on the ground with your chest down on the floor. Put your hands straight and in front of you, just like you are flying (you don’t need to imagine that you are flying but it’s more fun if you do)

Squeeze your glutes and lower back and raise your legs, arms and chest off the floor and up in the air. Bringing your arms and legs in a starting position is a rep.

Do 10 reps of this in 3 sets and after a few months you will probably become supermen for real. This exercise is also great for shoulders and your core.

There are variations of this workout, doing a T, Y or W with your hands or performing a reverse snow angel (we all did a snow angel as children, but with reverse snow angel, everything is in the air instead on the floor)

With supermans workout, you can build strong muscles in the following groups: Buttocs, hips, lower back, upper back, shoulders, core and glutes.

If this exercise does not relieve you from your back pain, make sure to visit a doctor and investigate the cause of your back pain.  

  1. Pushups

Everybody loves pushaps because they are easy to do and it’s great for core, glutes, shoulders, arms, legs and of course your chest.

Great tip for this bodyweight back workout is to watch your hands because of the body pressure they endure.

Among many bodyweight exercises, pushaps are most popular and powerful when done with right body posture which means keeping your shoulders inline while starting in a plank position.

When in a starting position, make sure to squeeze your core and glutes to provide a straight line and protect the spine.

To do a pushup, you need to bend the elbows and lower your body while squeezing your butt. Your hands are doing the hard work in each rep. 

Depending on the shape you are in, you can start with 3 sets of 5-10 reps of pushups. To make sure you are doing them right, always try to maintain your feet on the ground and shoulder width apart when in a starting position.

You can start doing some variations of this exercise. With palms facing down place your hands shoulder width apart and in the center of the floor under the body.

This position alone, after one minute can be a complete workout for each muscle in your body (harder version of a plank exercise).

To make this exercise more difficult, extend your arms and place your body into a lower position after breaks between sets. 

Make sure your head is following a line of the body and your feet are on the ground at all times.

  1. Pull ups

If you have a bar you can hang from at home, then that’s all you need for this magnificent exercise.

The beauty of this bodyweight back exercise is that you utilize gravity to develop lower back, upper back, glutes, shoulders, six packs, back and your front upper body. 

If you are just starting with these types of exercises, your hands will hurt in the beginning but don’t be afraid, it’s normal. There are a couple of things you can do before you pull yourself up.

You can hang from the bar at first for 10, 15 seconds for a rep in two sets and then return to the starting position. This will strengthen your hands and wrists.

Also, you can rest after every rep until you develop stamina and get those beautiful six pecks you see only on workout products commercials, fighters and Brad Pitt in the movie Troy. 

Next thing you can do is to wait after every minute and keep yourself on the bar just a little bit longer. You can also lift yourself higher than the bar (thinking out of the box, right?)

Well, not exactly, this exercise is called a chin up and is quite similar to a pull up. Lifting yourself higher with your chin above the bar, will build your shoulder blades, back and upper body in general with more focus on the biceps [3].

To get the best results, always pull yourself slowly, making sure that your body and shoulders are in the right position to return to the starting position.

It is important to rest between the reps and make longer breaks between sets. You can move your feet around, get more oxygen or lie on the floor before going into the starting position. 

If you don’t get enough rest there is a possibility of an injury, especially when just starting to workout. Doing an overhand grip can cause your hands to inflame so make sure to use glows from the beginning. 

Pull ups are a perfect exercise for your home environment, where you can build your every muscle, legs and back without any equipment (except a bar or something similar).


How Can I Strengthen My Back Without Weights?

If you really want to develop strong back muscles, you do need to visit the gym and have a serious back workout.

There are a couple of back exercises that will keep your back strong and develop strong back muscles without the use of expensive equipment.

For example, you can do dolphin kicks which are great for your both lower back and hips. For a starting position, you have to be lying on your stomach on a surface above the floor (you can use a bench)

To activate your glutes and abs, you need to pull your legs while keeping a straight line. Finishing a rep means you have lowered them below your hips.

Another easy workout is good mornings (who come up with these names?). This workout routine can be performed with a bar placing it on your shoulders, but you can use a rolling pin as well.

Stand straight for a starting position and initiate the exercise with feet between hip and shoulder-with apart. Make sure your knees are slightly bent while keeping your back straight.

Start hinging towards the ground frontaly while pushing your hips back making your torso parallel to the ground. Pushing your hip forward means you finished one rep.

This exercise is great for hips and hamstrings when you place your hands with palms facing your back directly. You can pull your arms back a bit or put arms at your sides to change the pace of the exercise.

Can You Get Ripped With Just Bodyweight Exercises?

Having a back workout routine in the gym, with all the equipment can make your back muscles look like Mount Rushmore (people will start recognising faces of Thomas Jeferson, Lincoln, etc on your back)

But, bodyweight back exercises will do wonders for your upper back and front upper body, creating a natural and lean appearance of your physique.

Bodyweight back exercises are great for back muscles if you are doing pull ups. Doing pull ups will develop your shoulder blades as well.

What Back Exercises Can I Do at Home?

Besides those bodyweight back exercises we already covered, you can do a lot of things to improve, build your back and have a great workout.

Many exercises can be performed on the floor like already mentioned supermen. Between these lying-on-the-floor exercises, aquaman is an interesting bodyweight back exercise.

Aquaman is a variation of supermen (who would have guessed?) which means that you begin on the floor, with your arms straight and lift your arms one at a time.

Your head is fixed in a rest position while you are lifting your arms and feet. You can do sets of 10 with 15 reps if you want great results.

This is a great exercise for your shoulder blades as well, just make sure your palms are facing the floor.

Among many easy exercises, amazing and easy to begin with are squats. They are great for the lower and upper body.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of workouts that can get you started easily, with only your floor or a bar to work with. You don’t need expensive equipment for powerful workouts.

You can do bodyweight exercises at home and build your back muscles in no time. Workouts can be demanding at the beginning, so you need to prepare your body. 

Always watch where you place your head, elbows and feet. When we are doing exercises, we tend to focus on our arms, core or legs and forget about head, elbows and feet, but keeping them in the right position helps with maintaining a proper body posture.

Always rest between sets and move around to get enough air. 


  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40122-018-0105-x 
  2. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2013/05000/high_intensity_circuit_training_using_body_weight_.5.aspx 
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21068680/ 
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