Top 10 Bodyweight Back Exercises For Building A Strong And Healthy Back

Why lift weights and risk injury when you can use these bodyweight back exercises to work and build a strong and healthy back. You can do these anywhere and at your convenience and many will cost you nothing.

back extension bodyweight back exercises

You may find affiliate links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Why Trust Us

A strong and healthy back will help you go through your day-to-day activities and help you lead a healthy lifestyle.

While many may want to use free weights, like barbells and dumbbells, to target and build their back muscles, bodyweight back exercises could be another viable option.

Bodyweight back exercises can help improve your posture, stretch and strengthen weak muscles, and prepare you for more strenuous strength-building exercises.

bodyweight back exercises

Best bodyweight back exercises for stretching and strengthening your back muscles

Below are some of the best bodyweight back exercises for targeting and working your back muscles without lifting weights.

Chin Up With Isometric Hold

Chin-ups are one of the first exercises that come to mind when looking for bodyweight back exercises that can help build your lats.

Applying an isometric hold during the chin-ups allows you to identify any weak spots you may have.

The bodyweight back exercises involve grabbing the pull-up bar with your palm facing you and pulling your body up until your elbows are at 90 degrees. You will then hold your position for a minimum of 5 seconds or until your muscles fatigue and you lose grip.

To get the most out of your workout, aim to hold for 3 sets of 30 seconds hold, with a 60 seconds rest after each rest.

Aside from strengthening your back muscles, the chip-ups with isometric hold can help build your grip strength, biceps, core, and upper back.

You will need a pull-up bar for the back bodyweight exercises.

Snow Angel to Jackknife

The snow angle to jackknife is one of the bodyweight back exercises that can work and stretch your lats and shoulders in an isolated and stable manner.

Steps to follow

  • Lie on your back and stretch your arms overhead. Ensure you lock your elbows and knees and keep them in that state throughout the movement
  • Put your feet together, point your toes forward, and your fingers straight behind you. Your palms should be open and facing each other. Your toes, through to your fingers, should be in a straight line.
  • Raise your stretched legs and your upper and bring them together to form a V-shape
  • Keep raising your legs and upper body until your palms get to the sides of your knees, and return to your starting position. Ensure your elbows and knees remain locked throughout the movement.
  • Repeat for 10 reps for a set, and 3 sets with 60 seconds rest after each set, to complete a session

Cobra/Back Extension

cobra pose - bodyweight back exercises

The cobra pose engages the muscles in your lower back, hips, butts, and shoulders. It is one of the best lower back bodyweight exercises for your workout regimen.

The bodyweight back exercises can tone your posterior muscles and stretch your front muscles.

Apart from your lower back muscles, the cobra pose will work your hamstrings, glutes, triceps, rhomboids, and middle traps.

Steps to follow

  • Lie face downwards with feet about a hip-width apart
  • Point your toes and place the tops of your feet on the floor
  • Bend your elbows and position your opened palms by your ribs. Ensure the insides of your palms are flat on the floor with your fingers pointing forward.
  • Inhale, lift your head and chest and arch your spine as far as possible. Ensure your legs are straight, press your pubic area firmly against the floor, and tighten your thighs and buttocks.
  • Hold for 5-15 seconds, lower your chest and return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 2-3 reps for a set and 3 sets with 60 seconds between each set to complete a session

Inverted Row

The inverted row is one of the best bodyweight back exercises for building depth in your upper back.

The exercise will target and work your lats and upper back muscles and is one of the best bodyweight exercises that can add size and strength to your biceps and upper back.

You will need dip bars or a Smith machine for the exercise. A Smith machine will allow you to change the bar height, making it possible to change the difficulty level.

The inverted row is also one of the best ways to train your body and muscles for more challenging exercises, such as pull-ups.

Steps to follow

  • Position the bar at waist height on the Smith machine
  • Position yourself underneath the bar, face up, and grab the bar, ensuring your grips are more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Extend your arms and legs. Position yourself such that your chest is directly below the bar.
  • Flex your elbows and pull your chest as far as possible toward the bar. Ensure you keep your body straight as you do this movement.
  • Pause and slowly lower your body back to your starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat 8-12 reps or more for a set and 3-5 sets, with 60 seconds rest between sets, to complete a session

Superman/Superman Raise

woman doing the superman bodyweight back exercises

Any exercisers at any point of the fitness journey do the superman exercises to help them target and work their posterior chain muscles, including the back, hamstrings, spinal erectors, glutes, and abs.

The superman exercise is one of the best lower back bodyweight exercises to include in your workout.

The superman bodyweight back exercises are suitable for people of all fitness levels. But those with serious back issues should seek medical guidance before attempting.

Steps to follow

  • Take a prone position by lying flat with your chest down and back up on the floor.
  • Extend your arms and legs. Ensure your arms are above your head and your palms are facing downwards.
  • Exhale and raise your arms, head, and legs above the floor. Ensure you lift as far as you comfortably can, and only your torso should make contact with the floor.
  • Look down, and do not hyperextend your neck. Engage your core, glutes, and shoulder blade muscles.
  • Remain in that position for 2-3 seconds. Ensure you breathe normally throughout.
  • Lower your legs, head, and arms, and return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 8–12 reps for a set and 2–3 sets to complete a session

Do not lift your neck or hyperextend your neck. Doing so can cause you pain or discomfort.

Overhead Ball Slam

The overhead ball slam, or medicine ball slam, can help develop explosive power, speed, and strength.

The exercise will target your lats (your upper back muscle), shoulders, triceps, abs, and legs and is one of the best bodyweight back exercises that teach muscles to cooperate.

The overhead slams are some of the best upper back bodyweight exercises for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health.

You will need a medicine ball or slam ball for the exercise.

Steps to follow

  • Stand upright with feet at shoulder width apart, holding the slamball in both hands.
  • Raise the ball above your head. Extend your body by standing on your toes,
  • Then forcefully slam the ball on the floor directly in front of you.
  • Squat to pick up the ball and immediately prepare to repeat the motions
  • Repeat 6-8 reps for a set and 3-5 sets to complete a session, with 60 seconds rest between each set

Bird Dog

bird dog transverse abdominis exercises

The bird dog is a whole-body exercise that targets and works your back, hips, and core muscles.

It is one of the best bodyweight back exercises for improving posture, relieving back pain, and increasing range of motion.

You will need an exercise mat for the exercise, but you can also do it without it.

Steps to follow

  • Get in the tabletop position on all fours. Ensure you position your hands under your shoulders and align your knees under your hips.
  • Engage your abs, pull your shoulder blades together, and ensure you keep your spine neutral
  • Raise one arm and point it straight ahead, and simultaneously raise the leg opposite the arm you have raised and point it straight behind you. Ensure your hips and shoulders are parallel to the floor and look downwards. The arm pointing straight ahead, your head, your back, and the leg you have raised should form a straight line.
  • Hold the pose for 2-3 seconds and return your leg and arm to your starting position.
  • Switch sides and repeat
  • Repeat up to 5 reps for each side for a set and 3 sets to complete a session.

Child’s Pose

child pose cable pull through alternative exercise

The child’s pose is a yoga pose that is quite prominent in strength and fitness training.

The pose targets your lower back muscles and is one of the best bodyweight back exercises for boosting thoracic mobility and spinal control.

The child’s pose is one of the best exercises for lengthening and stretching a stiff spine in the morning or before strenuous exercises.

Aside from your lower back, the exercise will stimulate your highs and hips, making them more flexible. You can also use the child’s pose to relieve back pain.

Using an exercise mat for the pose will make you comfortable.

Steps to follow

  • Get on all fours and stretch your hands in front of you.
  • Lower your butts and sit on your heels, ensuring your extended arms are on the floor in front of you, palms stretched and facing down or facing each other.
  • Position your head between your stretched upper arms and your forehead on the floor.
  • Focus on your breathing and relax any tightness and stiffness in your body
  • Hold the pose for 5 minutes or for as long as possible.

Suspended Row

The suspended rows, or TRX Rows, are excellent pulling bodyweight back exercises that work your lats, rear delts, rhomboids, and biceps.

You will need TRX suspension trainers or similar suspension trainers for the exercise.

Using a suspension trainer allows you to change the angle to make the movements more or less challenging.

The TRX rows are an effective alternative for those who don’t like using free weights.

Steps to follow

  • Secure the suspension trainers are a high point, ensuring the handles are a chest height.
  • Grasp a handle in each hand and step back from the anchor point.
  • Lean back and stretch your arms, ensuring your stretched arms and the suspension trainers are in a straight line
  • Activate your core, abs, and lower back
  • Flex your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull your body up until the handles touch the sides of your chest. Ensure your knees, hips, and shoulders remain straight throughout and keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Pause for a second, extend your elbows slowly, and return to your starting position. Ensure you keep your body straight and use your arms and lats to pull you back to your starting position
  • Repeat

Single-arm Suspension Row

The TRX single-arm row is a unilateral strength training variation of the TRX row.
They are bodyweight back exercises that allow you to target and train each side of your back unilaterally, making it possible to concentrate on weaker muscles.

The exercise involves holding and pulling the handle of the TRX suspension trainers with one hand, to the side of your chest. Ensure you engage your core and keep your body straight throughout the movement.

For the best results, repeat 8 reps per side, switch sides, and repeat 8 reps, for a set. Do 3 sets of 8 per side with 60 seconds rest between sets to complete a session.

The TRX single-arm row is one of the best bodyweight back exercises for correcting muscle imbalances to help build a symmetrical body.

Final words from LiveLIfe

Back exercises are a must for any training regimen. And you don’t have to lift weights to enable you to build your back muscles.

Incorporate these bodyweight back exercises into your fitness routine to help build and strengthen your back muscles. You can do all the movements we have discussed at home, and some will cost you nothing.

Ensure you combine some pull and row bodyweight back exercises. That will help you to get the most out of your training.

Ensure you warm up before any training session, and consult a medical or trained personnel when in doubt,

  1. A Plamondon, K Trimble, C Larivière, P Desjardins. 2004. Back muscle fatigue during intermittent prone back extension exercise. National Library Medicine. PMID: 15265144 DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2004.00363.x
  2. Young-In Hwang and Du-Jin Park. 2018. Comparison of lumbar multifidus thickness and perceived exertion during graded superman exercises with or without an abdominal drawing-in maneuver in young adults. National Library Medicine. PMCID: PMC6165989. doi: 10.12965/jer.1836296.148
  3. Raeder C, Fernandez-Fernandez J, Ferrauti A. Effects of six weeks of medicine ball training on throwing velocity, throwing precision, and isokinetic strength of shoulder rotators in female handball playersJ Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):1904-14. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000847
  4. Chung S, Lee J, Yoon J. Effects of stabilization exercise using a ball on mutifidus cross-sectional area in patients with chronic low back painJ Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):533-41.

Similar Posts