Bodyweight Exercises for Your Back

If you are trying to tone up your back, you might think the best way to do it is to hit the dumbbells and the machines. This is one way to get a good back exercise in, but there are also plenty of bodyweight exercises for back muscle growth that work just as well. They’re also easier to carry out in most cases, because they do not require the use of bulky dumbbells or machines. The back is composed of many different muscles, so it’s important to do a variety of exercises that hit all of them. Try some of the ones listed below and start strengthening all of your back muscles.

Neutral Grip Chin Ups

For these chin ups, you need to use a bar that has handles that extend perpendicular to the bar itself. Most chin up/pull up bars come with these as a default. Begin in a hanging position with your hands on the bars, facing each other. Raise your body all the way up, until your shoulders are at least at hand level. Hold for a count at the top and lower down slowly to complete the movement. This exercise can be made more difficult by slowing down the lowering motion and making it last longer. This is one of the best variations of the chin up movements because it puts less stress on the shoulder joint than many of the others.

Supine Planks

Planks are great for all sorts of different parts of the body, and this particular one is great for the back. Start by sitting on the ground with your legs extended outward. Your forearms and hands should be on the ground and arms should be kept close to the body. This puts your chest at an angle. From here, squeeze your glutes and core muscles to push your torso up until your body is straight. At this point, only your forearm, hands, and the heels of your feet should be on the ground. Hold this pose for a few counts and then lower it down in a controlled motion.

Dolphin Kick

Dolphin kicks require access to a bench. To start the dolphin kick, lay face down on the bench. Your hip bones should be on the edge of the bench. This is about where the body hinges and the legs start. Feet should be flat on the ground and you should be holding on to the underside of the bench for support. Hold your legs straight and raise them up slowly while holding them next to each other. Toes should be straight and extended outward. You should feel almost all the muscles in your core being engaged, especially your back. Hold the legs in this position above your back for a few counts, and then lower slowly.


To start the Superman pose, lie on the ground face down. Your chin should be touching the ground and your ankles should be touching each other. Make sure your toes are pointed outward underneath. Place your arms forward so that they are parallel to your body and extended beyond your head. Palms should be facing down. Use your back and glute muscles to pull as much of your body up and off the ground as possible. Arms should be completely lifted, as well as as much of your chest and legs as you can get up. Keep everything straight and keep your muscles contracted. Hold in this position for a couple of counts and then release slowly.

Floor Y

This move is similar to the Superman pose, but has a few variations. This move is great because it counteracts some of the negative effects on the body that come from spending too much time sitting, which is a problem most people have. It does this by pulling the shoulders and back down. To begin, lie face down on the floor and keep your back flat. From here, squeeze your shoulder blade muscles down and back and lift your arms up slightly. They should be extended forward so that your body looks like the shape of the letter Y. Hands should be in a thumbs up position.

Pulls Ups

Pulls ups are one of the most popular exercises for people looking to develop their back muscles. This is because they hit so many of the different back muscles at once, making it easier to get a nice looking back faster. For this exercise you will need access to a bar that you can hang from. Grab the bar with an overhand grip. This means your palms should be facing away from you. Pull your shoulder blades down and engage your back muscles to pull your body up until your chin is over the bar. Lower your body slowly to finish the exercise. Keep your legs crossed to even out weight distribution and make sure you don’t use your leg muscles to kick down and gain momentum that way. All the momentum needs to come from your upper body.

Nose and Toes Handstand

This is a more advanced move, meaning people who are new to exercising should develop their muscles a bit before they attempt this one. However, it is one of the best bodyweight exercises for back development. For this one, start in push up position with your feet against a wall. Walk your feet slowly up the wall, all the while keeping your back and abdominal muscles very engaged. Keep your spine in a neutral position, making sure it is not bent at all. While you walk your feet up the wall you should be inching your hands toward the wall as well. They are supposed to be a little wider than shoulder width. The exercise ends when your body is almost parallel to the wall and your nose and toes are touching it. From here, slowly walk yourself back down the wall.