11 Exercises To Build Stronger Back Muscles Without Any Equipment

Your back muscles are the biggest in your upper body and are often one of the most neglected. Spending all day hunched over laptops and smartphones doesn’t do any favors for the muscles in your back, yet that’s how many of us spend most of our days. 

Your back muscles being the biggest in your upper body, means strengthening them significantly improves your physique. Well-defined back muscles give men the V-tapered upper body and make up the top half of a woman’s hourglass figure. Strengthening your back muscles also improves your posture while increasing the stability of your spine. 

However, there are far more important reasons to strengthen your back muscles. Your back muscles are engaged in virtually all functional movements you make, and they help to protect your spine from injuries. Sitting for long periods puts a lot of stress on your back and puts pressure on your disc. Strengthening your back muscles helps to reduce this effect. You can also reduce the stress of sitting for long periods put on your back by getting up every 30 minutes. 


Build Stronger, More Defined Back Muscles With These Exercises

There are countless weightlifting and machine-resistance exercises for your back, but finding effective bodyweight exercises for your back can be challenging if you don’t know where to look. Our list consists of exercises that target the rhomboids, latissimus dorsi (the largest muscle in your upper body), lumbar muscles, and the spinal erector muscles that support and stabilize the spine. 

Let’s get started:


1) The Superman

Here’s an exercise with a cool name that’s simple enough for beginners. It targets your upper and lower back, shoulders, abs, and glutes. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Lay on the floor on your belly with both arms stretched out in front of you and your legs stretched out behind you. Use a comfortable surface like a carpet or an exercise mat if that’s an option.
  • Lift your legs and arms off the ground simultaneously until you feel a stretch in your back.
  • Hold the position for about five seconds and lower your limbs back to the ground. Go for three sets of about ten reps. Avoid looking up during your reps since that strains your neck muscles.


2) The Glute Bridge

This exercise is excellent for strengthening your lower back muscles and your buns. Here’s how to perform it:

  • Lay face up on the ground with your hands placed on the floor near your hips to help with maintaining your balance during your reps.
  • Tighten your glutes, engage your abs, and push through your heels to raise your hips off the ground. Tightening your abs during the exercise helps to prevent overarching your back during your reps.
  • Drive your hips upward until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.
  • Tighten your abs and slowly lower your body back to the floor.
  • Try to complete three sets of about ten to twelve reps each.


3) Prone/Superman W Pull

The prone pull is the next exercise you should move on to once the Superman is no longer challenging enough for you. The exercise targets most of the muscles in your back and your shoulders. 

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Get into the same starting position used for the Superman.
  • Lift your chest and arms off the ground, and pull both arms back to your ribs. Keep your elbows up, so they form a “W” shape.
  • Bring your arms back to the starting position and lower your torso to the floor. Aim for three sets of ten reps. Tightening your abs and glutes during the exercise helps to keep your body stable.


4) Reverse Snow Angel

Don’t confuse these with the snow angels you made growing up as a kid. You won’t get to enjoy much childlike bliss while performing this exercise. It will have your lats burning up in no time. 

To perform the exercise:

  • Lay face down on the ground with both arms at your sides.
  • Raise your shoulders and arms a few centimeters off the floor.
  • Slowly move your arms past your shoulders until they are overhead. Straighten your elbow when performing the exercise and reach out with your arms during the movement.
  • Return your arms to their starting position. Go for three sets of ten reps. You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by grabbing a pair of weight plates.


5) Cobra Pose

Here’s a bodyweight exercise that strengthens your legs, back, and abs at the same time. Feel free to hiss like a cobra at the top of each rep if that helps you get into the mood to pump out more reps. 

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Lay facedown on the ground and spread your hands on it while keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. Keep your elbows pointing back to reduce the strain on your neck.
  • Press your legs and hips firmly into the ground and push your hands into it to raise your torso. Don’t overstrain when doing this. Just lift your body to a comfortable height.
  • Hold the position for 15 to 20 seconds. Aim for three sets of about five reps each.


6) High Plank Rows

A conventional plank row helps strengthen muscles in your back, and you can make it more challenging by adding rows. This exercise will make you feel a serious burn in your midsection and back.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Get into a high plank position with your hands on the ground a little more than shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows close to your torso and your body straight. You should be able to draw a straight line from your head to your feet. Tightening your core and glutes helps to keep your body straight in the plank position.
  • Raise one of your arms and row it, then place it back where it was on the ground. Focus on using your lats to move your arm. Repeat the movement with your other arm and alternate between arms for a minute. Aim for three sets.


7) Band Rows

You don’t need to go to a gym for this exercise. All you need is a resistance band and a sturdy object you can wrap the band around. The exercise targets muscles in your back and your biceps. Here’s how to perform it:

  • Start by looping a resistance band around an immovable object like a doorframe, pole, or post.
  • You can stand upright or sit down to perform the exercise.
  • Hold one end of the band in each hand and pull back on it, keeping your elbows close to your hips. Pause for a second when your back and biceps are fully contracted, and slowly return to the starting position. That’s the key to getting the most out of this exercise.
  • Go for three sets of 12 to 15 reps.


8) Inverted Rows

Inverted rows might look easy, but they are far from it. They require you to pull your body weight up, so it doesn’t take many reps to make you feel an intense burn in your biceps and back. There are many ways to go about performing inverted rows. For instance, you can grab onto the edges of a sturdy table and use it to pull yourself up during your reps. You can perform them while grabbing a lowered pull-up bar or a bench rank. 

For our example, we’ll use suspension straps since these are affordable training tools you can use to perform exercises like inverted rows anywhere you are. If you don’t have one of those laying around, you can substitute by tying a knot in the middle of a bedsheet and closing it on the other side of a door. You then use the ends of the bedsheet as handles. 

Here’s what the exercise looks like:

  • Set up your suspension straps against a door frame or other sturdy object. Grab a handle with each hand, keeping your palms facing each other. Keep your elbows tucked by your sides and shift your weight to your heels.
  • Lean back until your body forms a straight line, and your hands are holding up most of your weight. Tighten your core to prevent your hips from sagging.
  • Use your back muscles and biceps to pull your torso back to the starting position. Imagine trying to crush a grape between your shoulder blades as you pump out your reps to make your back muscles do most of the work. Aim for three sets of ten reps or as many as you can pump out.

You can make inverted rows even more challenging by elevating your feet while performing the exercise. This forces your back and biceps to pull more weight. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Grab the handles of the bedsheet or training straps you’ll be using and keep your palms facing your feet. Elevate both feet on an exercise box or chair.
  • Tighten your glutes and core to keep your body straight, and pull your chest toward your hands. Lower yourself back to the starting position to complete a rep.


9) Chin-Ups

You can perform this exercise with anything strong enough to hold up your entire body weight or a pull-up bar that hangs on your doorframe at home. Chin-ups are one of the more challenging exercises on our list, and you probably won’t be able to get more than a handful of reps when you first try them. This makes them an extremely effective exercise for strengthening your back muscles and bulking them up. 

Here’s what the exercise looks like:

  • Get into the starting position by grabbing a bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing you. Hang off the bar so you’re holding up all your body weight with your hands. Pull your shoulder downs to force your lats to do most of the work during your reps.
  • Pull your body towards the bar until your chin is above it. Keep your lower body still when performing your reps, and try to use your back and core muscles to do most of the work.
  • Pause for a second at the top and slowly lower yourself back down.
  • Go for about three sets of as many reps as you can handle. If you find this exercise to be too challenging, Loop a resistance bar around the bar and your knees to lighten the load.


10) Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

This is one of the most challenging back exercises you can perform, and it’s also one of the best for building up muscles in your back. Wide-grip pull-ups are significantly more challenging than conventional pull-ups, and it isn’t unheard of for people who can easily pump out ten standard pull-ups to struggle with a few wide-grip reps. Spreading your hands further apart makes cheating harder, forcing your back muscles to do most of the work. 

Here’s how to perform a wide-grip pull-up: 

  • Grab the bar with an overhead grip, so your palms are facing away from you. Place your hands wider than your shoulders.
  • Slide your shoulders down and pull your chest toward the bar, mainly using your back muscles.
  • Pause for a second at the top and slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Ensure your arms are entirely straight at the bottom before starting another rep.
  • Aim for three sets of as many reps as you can get. If you can easily get more than ten reps (which is highly unlikely), wear a weighted vest to make the exercise more challenging.


11) Muscle-Ups

Muscle-ups are one of the most challenging exercises you can do for your back and are fantastic for building muscle mass and increasing strength. The exercise involves performing pull-ups and exploding so hard it pushes your body over the bar and leaves you in a dip position. 

Don’t waste your time trying these if you can’t comfortably perform ten pull-ups. 

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Start hanging off a pull-up bar and swing your legs to generate momentum. This is something you want to avoid when performing conventional pull-ups, but you need momentum to help during this movement.
  • Perform a pull-up as explosively as you can while bringing your knees close to your chest.
  • Once your chest is over the bar, perform a dip to push yourself to the top of the exercise. Your knees should be hanging just below the bar, and your arms should be fully locked.
  • Lower yourself back down to complete a rep. Aim for three sets of as many reps as you can.


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