Just because you only have a few choice pieces of equipment to your name doesn’t mean your at-home training options are abysmal. What’s more, if you’re spending more time at home, sitting for most of the day, that’ll do a number on the postural muscles of your upper and lower back. They’re likely screaming for your attention in the form of atrophy, chronic pain, and maybe even some shoulder issues. You know what can turn that all around? At-home back workouts.

 

Proper training can bolster the small stabilizing muscles in your back to alleviate lumbar pain, fix imbalances in your shoulders to safeguard your body against injury and, of course, build size and strength. And it can all be done with scant equipment. Try these at-home back workouts to keep your strength up and develop those dormant postural muscles. You’ll develop size and strength with nary a Smith machine or barbell in sight.

7 At-Home Back Workouts to Build Size and Strength

Workout 1: EMOM Pullups

Equipment needed: Pullup bar

Directions: EMOM stands for “every minute on the minute.” To do this workout, simply time out 20 minutes and perform 3-5 pullups at the start of the first minute and at the turn of each subsequent minute until 20 minutes have elapsed. Sounds easy at first, but if you’re being honest with your rep quality, you’ll probably realize your fate by set number 10.

Workout 2: Bodyweight Back Attack

Equipment needed: Two benches (or flat surfaces) and a mat
Directions: Perform these exercises as supersets, completing the first move for prescribed reps or duration, then moving immediately to the second, resting only between rounds.
1A. Back Plank x 20 seconds: Set two benches parallel to one another. Sit in between and plant triceps on either bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Drive elbows into the benches and actively work to raise your chest as high as possible by retracting the shoulder blades as you drive your feet into the floor and bridge hips toward the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes throughout and don’t forget to breathe. Watch a video demonstration here.
1B. Handcuff Raises x 12 reps: Lie face down on the floor with arms behind back, elbows bent, hands clenched into fists with palms facing out (as if you were wearing handcuffs). Keep fists as close to each other as possible, and let the elbows and shoulders fall toward the floor. To perform the raise, retract shoulders and arch upper body off the floor. Hold each position for 2 seconds. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a superset for 5 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

2A. Wall Shoulder Extension x 45 seconds: Stand in front of a wall with your back against it, butt making contact. Reach back with hands beside your hips, and pull shoulders down and back. With closed fists, drive them into the wall as hard as you possibly can for the prescribed time. This seems easy, but it isn’t if you’re working as hard as possible. You should feel all the muscles in your upper back working hard too. Watch a video demonstration here.
2B. Neck Plank x 15 seconds: Position your head and shoulders on a flat bench, feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees. Gradually slide your way forward until only your head is supporting your body weight. Don’t let your body sag or fall; keep your back higher than bench level. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a superset for 5 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

Workout 3: The Little Things

Equipment needed: Medicine ball (8-12lbs), light dumbbells (5-8lbs), and full water bottle (2lbs)
Directions: Perform these exercises as supersets, completing the first move for prescribed reps or duration, then moving immediately to the second, resting only between rounds.

1A. Med Ball Tomahawk x 12 reps: Lie on your stomach on a mat, holding a medicine ball, elbows bent. Engage your core and glutes to lift legs and elbows off the ground as you draw the medicine ball behind your head. Tap the ball to your upper traps, working toward hitting your lower traps. Watch a video demonstration here.
1B. Trap 3 Raise x 12 reps each side: Rest one forearm on any surface that’s around waist level, then prop your head on that arm. Hold a light 8-pound dumbbell in the other hand. Hinge at your hips. Your torso should be parallel to the floor, soft bend in knees, heels peeled off the floor. Set your working shoulder by retracting the shoulder blade before each rep. Raise the weight up diagonally. It’s okay if there’s a very slight swing to make this happen. You should feel this mostly in your mid back. Don’t let your ego get in the way; go light. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

2A. Floor Blackburns x 12 reps: Lie on your stomach, feet flexed, light dumbbells in either hand, palms facing one another. Elbows should be bent out to the side. Keep your head pressed to the floor as you press the weights overhead, then bring back to the start position. Don’t let your elbows or weights touch the floor. Watch a video demonstration here.
2B. Prone Transfers x 12 reps: Stay in the same position, lying on your stomach. Lift your arms and legs off the floor, holding the full water bottle. Pass it behind your back and over your head from one hand to the other, making large arm circles. Be sure not to let any part of your arms or hands touch the floor. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

Workout 4: Banded Bliss

Equipment needed: Assorted loop bands
Directions: Perform these exercises as supersets, completing the first move for prescribed reps or duration, then moving immediately to the second, resting only between rounds.
1A. Banded Scapular Slides x 15 reps: Fix a flat resistance band at your midline (anchor on a door knob). Sit on the floor facing the anchor point with either end of the band in each hand. Maintain a strict upright seated position with legs extended straight (if that’s too challenging, bend your knees) as you cactus your arms out to either side, elbows bent, palms facing one another. Press the bands overhead, fighting resistance so the bands don’t pull your hands forward, until your arms are straight. Lower down and repeat. Watch a video demonstration here.
1B. Banded Seated Row x 15 reps: Using the same setup described above, row the bands toward either side of your midline.

Perform as a superset for 5 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

2A. Banded Good Morning x 15 reps: Place a heavy resistance band behind your neck and under your feet. Keep the lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Think about keeping your chest up and pointing forward. Explosively extend your hips to come back up. Watch a video demonstration here.
2B. Banded Pulldown x 15 reps: Set up two heavy resistance bands at the top of a fixed anchor. Sit on the floor and grab the bands in either hand; sit so your body, band, and anchor point make a 45-degree angle (don’t sit directly underneath the anchor). Lean back a bit and set palms facing the floor, arms extended. Draw your shoulders down and back and engage your lats to pull the bands down, rotating palms so they’re facing you at the bottom of the movement, elbows down by sides. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

Workout 5: Death by Dumbbell Rows

Equipment needed: Medium and heavy pair of dumbbells and a bench
Directions: Perform exercises as straight sets or compound sets, when indicated, for prescribed reps, sets, and rest. Similar to supersets, exercises in a compound sets are to be done back to back without rest. The difference is they work the same muscle group, whereas supersets hit opposing muscle groups.
1. Fisherman Row – 4×15 reps each side: Set up on a flat bench for a single-arm dumbbell row, but instead of putting one knee on the bench, put both knees on it. You’ll be diagonally across the bench, allowing your chest and torso to remain stable and flat. Row the weight straight up toward your ribcage. Rest 90 seconds between rounds. Watch a video demonstration here.
2A. Renegade Row x 10 reps each side: Begin in a pushup position, holding dumbbells on the floor in a neutral grip. Perform a pushup on the dumbbells, then immediately perform a one-arm, neutral-grip row. Repeat the pushup and row on the other side.
2B. Banded Chest Supported Row x 15 reps: Lie face down on an incline bench. Wrap a mini looped resistance band around wrists (the band shouldn’t be too thick or tight) and hold medium-weight dumbbells in either hand with a neutral or underhand grip. Squeeze shoulder blades together and row the weights toward your chest. As you pull, aim to separate the weights at the same time in order to hit the rear deltoids. Watch a video demonstration here.

Perform as a compound set for 4 rounds. Rest 1 minute between rounds.

3. Dumbbell Bentover Row – 5×12: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward at the hips, arms extended with dumbbells hanging straight down, to start. Row the weights up to your torso, keeping elbows tucked in line with your body. Reverse motion to return to start.

Workout 6: TRX and Bodyweight back Workout

Equipment needed: TRX or any suspension training system
Directions: Perform exercises as supersets or compound sets for prescribed reps, sets, and rest.

1A. Rear-Delt Rockers x 12 reps: Hang the TRX from a high anchor as you would for an inverted row. Grab the handles with palms facing out and come directly under the anchor point. Extend arms, bend knees, and dig your heels into the floor. Row your upper body up, sinking hips so you’re in an upright “seated” position, hands near shoulders to finish the rep. Don’t let your body touch the ground, and think of this as a rocking or pivot motion. Remember to keep the shoulder blades retracted the entire time. Watch a video demonstration here.
1B. Inverted Rows x max reps: Hang TRX from a high anchor. Grab the handles and come directly under the anchor point, palms facing one another. Extend arms and legs (you can also bend your knees and plant your feet, but keep hips lifted). Row body up until handles are by your chest.

Perform as a compound set for 5 rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds. 

2A. Bear Dogs x 6 reps each side: This movement combines a bear stance position with a bird dog movement. Come into a quadruped position on hands and knees, then engage your core to bring both knees three inches off the floor. Slowly and carefully raise one arm and the opposite leg off the floor to a full extension. Don’t allow your body to twist or rock, and keep the planted leg in the same position it started in. Repeat on the opposing side. Watch a video demonstration here.
2B. Close-Grip Chinups x max reps

Perform as a superset for 4 rounds. Rest 90 seconds between rounds.  

Workout 7: Plain ol’ Barbell

Equipment needed: Barbell and plates
Directions: Perform as straight sets, completing all reps and sets of an exercise before moving on.

1. Barbell Deadlift – 5×10 reps with 2-minute rest between sets
2. Barbell Bentover row – 4×12 with 2-minute rest between sets
3. Barbell hang clean – 5×5 reps with 2-minute rest between sets
4. Barbell Shoulder Extensions – 4×12 with 90-second rest between sets

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