We know, back injuries are the worst. They can put you out of training for weeks, if not months at a time, and can easily lead to long-term mobility and fitness problems. For that reason, we can't stress just how important it is to be regularly training your back and building strength in both your upper and lower back muscles.
With simple bodyweight back exercises and a few pull up bands, you can even create an effective home back workout that will prepare your muscles for more intense weight lifting sessions or strength training circuits.
We will be looking into the benefits of building a strong back, and we suggest a few bodyweight exercises that you can try at home with resistance bands!
What are bodyweight back exercises?
Bodyweight back exercises are exercises designed to strengthen your upper and lower back muscles, without needing heavy weights. Bodyweight back exercises are performed using your body weight as resistance, similar to push-ups, pull-ups, or crunches. In this case, you're targeting your back instead of your arms or abs.
Bodyweight back exercises are fantastic because they allow you to enjoy a no-equipment back workout from the comfort of your own home. You don't need any expensive gym equipment to start working out, but you can also quickly add in a resistance band to make the exercises more targeted and efficient.
Popular bodyweight back exercises include bodyweight rows and band pulldowns. Together, we will explore some of our other favorites further along in the article!
What are the benefits of bodyweight back exercises?
Starting to practice bodyweight back exercises and including them in your strength training circuits is an effective way to build muscle. You can target your upper or lower back, including important back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, the trapezius, and the rhomboids.
Your back muscles are highly underrated, but strengthening them will help you see benefits across a wide range of sports as well as simple everyday movements. For instance, your lats are some of the largest muscles in the upper body and are essential for lifting weights and balancing the body (they are also crucial for creating that athletic, V-shape that bodybuilders crave!).
Without a strong back, it's impossible to consistently develop other muscles, such as the shoulders, chest, or arms. You also need a strong back for jogging, cycling, or simply taking the laundry out of the washing machine.
Bodyweight back exercises are a light but effective way to strengthen the most important back muscles without putting too much strain on them. Back injuries are all too common, particularly when lifting heavy free weights. Bodyweight exercises can develop your back muscles and ultimately help you avoid suffering from those painful back injuries that could put you out of action for longer than you want. At the same time, bodyweight exercises will help improve posture, flexibility, and mobility, which are essential elements for any training regime.
Resistance bands allow you to perfect your bodyweight techniques, to focus on building a better posture. Bands also help you better control the resistance you are working your back muscles against, which is vital for anyone looking to avoid a back injury or anyone who might be recovering from one.
Bodyweight exercises for back using bands
There are plenty of excellent resistance band back exercises that you can start practicing to help build muscle and strengthen your back.
As we already mentioned, we love how resistance bands can help to add that extra level of difficulty to bodyweight exercises while allowing you to remain fully in control of your back movements. Having that control not only allows you to target the back muscles more effectively, but it really does help to stop you from accidentally injuring your back, as it is unfortunately so easy to do when you're swinging free weights around!
The following exercises are some of our favorite lower back bodyweight exercises and upper back exercises, all of which use resistance bands. Select a light resistance band to begin with, but as you find your fitness and technique improving, you should start to increase the strength of the band too. This will allow you to add further resistance and build on your base muscles.
You can practice the following exercises on their own, or practice them alongside wider lower or upper body bodyweight exercises. You could even create a back targeting circuit by performing all the movements back to back!
Remember to warm up with some light stretching before attempting any strenuous exercise.
#1 Band W Raise
With this movement, you will work your upper back muscles, along with your chest, shoulders, and arms with this effective bodyweight back exercise with a resistance band. The aim is to form a W-shape with your elbows behind your back and the band providing resistance. Release after holding that position for a minimum of two seconds. Perform at least ten repetitions in one go.
- Tie a long resistance band to a stable support, ensuring that it can be held at shoulder-height.
- Hold both ends of the resistance band, facing towards the support.
- Step backward until the band is tense, with your arms held up at shoulder-level.
- Keep your back straight and use your shoulders to complete a row, bringing your elbows right behind your back so they form a W-shape.
- Hold the row for at least two seconds.
- Release slowly and then repeat for at least ten repetitions.
#2 Band pulldown
A classic resistance band exercise that works hard to target your large lateral back muscles (the largest muscles in your back). Similar to the lat pulldown (which usually needs a weight machine at the gym), this exercise instead uses a long resistance band to work out your back and shoulders, alongside other secondary muscles too.
You can perform the following exercise with one arm at a time, or adjust the positioning of your body to perform pulldowns using both arms simultaneously. Try to repeat for at least ten reps on each arm or ten reps with two arms at a time.
- Take a long resistance band and tie it to a sturdy support above you.
- Hold the resistance band with your right arm.
- Slowly start to step back, so the band is tense.
- Use your right arm to pull the band down.
- Keep pulling down until your arm is parallel with your body.
- Hold for two seconds, then slowly release.
- Repeat for at least ten repetitions.
- Switch arms and repeat for ten repetitions on your left arm.
#3 Band row
Target both your back and arm muscles with seated resistance band rows. This great exercise uses the same motions you might be used to practicing on the rowing machine in the gym, the only difference being that you only require a long resistance band for you to try it out at home!
This exercise is as much about technique as it is about resistance, and it can really help to improve your posture if you're doing it correctly. Try to focus on perfecting the movements, keeping a straight back, and working on your 'rowing' form before moving onto stronger resistance bands.
- Loop the end of a long resistance band around both your feet and sit down on the floor.
- Keep both knees bent and grab the other end of the resistance band in both hands.
- Push your feet into the band to keep it in place, before pulling back with both arms until the band meets your chest.
- Hold the position for two seconds, with your elbows pointing out behind your back.
- Slowly release to the middle, then repeat for ten repetitions.
#4 Band Bent-Over Row
This excellent exercise is a standing version of the classic seated row, which helps to build your upper back muscles, primarily focusing on the large lat muscles, which are so important for movement and posture. Band bent-over rows are a favorite warm-up for many bodybuilders and weight lifters, as the exercise helps to develop the same muscles you need to hone for effective lifting and squatting movements.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and loop a long resistance band beneath your feet, so you're standing in the middle of it.
- Stand straight and hold the ends of the band in either hand. Keep your arms and knees bent slightly.
- Lean your chest forward while sending your hips back, keeping your back straight, so you're bent-over the band.
- Use your arms to pull the band upwards until your triceps are inline with your back.
- Hold for two seconds, then release.
- Repeat for ten repetitions.
The final say on bodyweight back exercises
Back exercises without weights are a fantastic way to build muscle and fitness while avoiding any unnecessary and unwanted injuries.
Back injuries really are a pain, but with controlled bodyweight back exercises that make use of resistance bands for targeted movements, you can easily start to build stronger back muscles for greater support, mobility, and flexibility!
Why not try out a few of our resistance band bodyweight back exercises in your next strength training workout?