Baby got Back! Here's How to Get a Great Back Workout at Home
When it comes to back workouts at home, many exercisers draw a blank. You can hit your chest with push-ups and your legs with squats. But don’t you need an 8×8 pulley system, a rowing apparatus, and two cable columns to have any hope of muscling up your rearview?
As ever — in both fitness and life — simplicity rules: with some dumbbells, bands, and possibly a pull-up bar, you can put in a back workout that’s every bit as effective as anything you can do at the biggest chrome-and-pulley palace in town. You just need to choose the right moves, in the proper order, using the right combination of sets and reps.
We’re here to provide just that. Select your level—beginner, intermediate, or advanced—and get pullin’. You might never go back to the gym again.
Three Ways to Work Your Back at Home
- Warm up thoroughly before each workout.
- Hydrate often throughout the workout.
- Rest 60 seconds between sets. On single-arm exercises, pause briefly (15-20 seconds) between sides.
- Focus on the feel of each exercise, and never sacrifice good form to lift more weight.
- Stop performing these moves when you notice your form is failing.
- Change exercises or routines every 4 weeks.
1. Beginner Back Workout at Home
Few beginning exercisers have the grip and back strength to perform the pull-up—a bodyweight staple for back training. No matter: these three moves will muscle up your upper and lower back and get you ready to attack that bar once you graduate to the next level.
|Arm balance row||2||6-8 per side|
|Banded Superman Lat Pull||2||6-8 per side|
2. Intermediate Back Workout at Home
This workout starts with assisted pull-ups—a ramp-up to the real thing. Start each set with as many reps of standard pull-ups as possible (that number might be zero at first), then perform the indicated reps with assistance. Your last two exercises will keep your posture solid and your shoulders healthy as your upper body gains strength and muscle.
|Assisted Pullups||3-4||As many as possible unassisted, followed by 6-8 assisted|
|Wide-Grip Bent-Over Rows||2-3||8-10|
|Lunge Row with Crunch||2||10 reps per leg|
3. Advanced Back Workout at Home
Been around the block a few times? Hit these four moves to keep adding muscle to your upper back. Use as heavy a weight as you can on the first three moves, then finish with a slightly lighter weight on the final exercise.
|Wide Leg Close-Grip Chin Up||4||8-10|
|Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows||3||8-10|
|Renegade Rows||2||8-10 per side|
Once you’ve picked your skill level, here’s a list of back workout at home exercises.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, start in the push-up position with your wrists under your shoulders and your head, hips, and heels in a straight line.
- Pull your right hand to your ribcage, then fully extend it to the sky as you twist to the right side. Make sure your arm extends directly over your shoulder and not behind you.
- Return to the high plank position then repeat on the other side.
- Continue alternating, doing equal reps on both sides.
- Stand on the center of a resistance band with your feet shoulder-width. If the band has too much slack, wrap one end around each foot and cross the handles.
- Bend your knees slightly and lean your chest forward, keeping your lower back in its natural arch and your head aligned with your spine.
- Keep your core engaged and your back straight as you pull the handles up to the sides of your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
- Slowly release your arms and repeat.
- Holding a light resistance band, lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead, chest and arms lifted off the floor, and palms facing down, head facing the floor. This is your starting position.
- Keeping both arms straight, and your left arm extended overhead, trace a half-circle with your right arm, extending it directly out to the side and down toward your right thigh.
- Reverse the move, slowly returning to the starting position.
- Repeat with your left arm, and do equal reps on both sides.
- Attach the assist band to the pull-up bar. Ensure the band is securely attached to the bar.
- Stand on a stable box or chair and put one foot in the loop at the bottom of the device.
- Grab the bar with an underhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width grip, and then slowly pull until your chin is over the bar.
- Adjust the length of the strap or the number of elastic bands in the device to deliver a level of assistance that challenges you to complete 6-8 reps.
5. Wide Bent-Over Rows
- Holding a set of dumbbells, stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
- Keeping your back flat and your core engaged, bend at the hips and lean your chest forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Let your arms hang down with your palms facing your shins.
- Keeping your back long, drive your elbows up and out, 90 degrees to your torso.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull back.
- Release your arms down and repeat.
- Stand holding two dumbbells at your sides.
- Take a big step forward with your left leg.
- Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left knee to assume a deep lunge position.
- Keeping your back long, bend forward at your hip, attempting to lay your torso on top of your left thigh. Let your arms hang straight down to the sides of your left leg, palms facing each other.
- Keeping your back straight, bring the dumbbells to the outside of your ribs, keeping your elbow close to your sides.
- Release your arms down as you drive your right knee up toward your chest.
- Return your right foot to the lunge position and repeat.
- Do equal reps on both sides.
- Take an underhand grip on a pull-up bar.
- Keeping your legs stretched wide in an upside-down “V” position, pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.
- Lower yourself until your arms are straight, and repeat.
8. Renegade Row
- Assume a push-up position with your hands just outside shoulder-width, gripping two light dumbbells. Your feet can be as wide as needed for stability.
- Lift the dumbbell in your right hand off the floor, bringing your hand to the outside of your ribs while keeping your right elbow close to your side. Resist rotation of the body.
- Lower the right dumbbell to the floor and repeat with your left arm, alternating sides.
- Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left hand on a bench or stability ball in front of you.
- Step your right leg back, keeping it straight, and bend your left leg slightly.
- Keeping your back flat and your head in neutral alignment, lean your chest forward.
- Without rotating your torso or shrugging your shoulder towards your ear, drive your elbow up, bringing the dumbbell to the side of your ribcage.
- Release your arm down and repeat.
- Perform equal reps on both sides.
10. Reverse Flys
- Holding a set of dumbbells, sit on a bench or stability ball. With your feet flat on the ground, hinge at the waist, leaning forward slightly, and bring your dumbbells behind your calves, palms facing each other.
- With a slight bend at the elbow, raise your arms outward and squeeze your shoulder blades, keeping your palms facing the floor.
- Pause briefly at the top of the move.
- Release your arms slowly and repeat.
Ready for more?
If you enjoyed this back workout at home, you’ll love the programs in the Openfit member library. We have routines for all fitness levels, including:
- Rough Around The Edges – A team of professional stuntwomen guide you through 30 days of workouts that include cardio, MMA conditioning, strength training, and dance to help you become fierce, empowered, and fighting fit.
- Xtend Barre – Sculpt a lean, long, dancer’s physique with Andrea Rogers’ signature barre series.
- T-Minus 30 – This program was designed to help anyone get in shape for a Tough Mudder, but you don’t need to have an obstacle course race in your future to benefit from its total-body workouts. Get lean, strong, tough, and ripped with this comprehensive program designed by one of Tough Mudder’s top athletes.