If you’ve been scrolling through pages of internet content searching for a back workout that doesn’t look like its built for the hulk, doesn’t involve using weights and can be done at home, you’ll be happy to know you’re finally in the right place!
Targeting the back muscles is something some women neglect to do but it is so important. The back is a key area to target in order to be able to build overall functional strength and a more built back will also help to give you that hourglass figure.
So, with that said, here are some of the best bodyweight back exercises, with variations for the beginners to the more experienced. Some of the movements require equipment- pull up bars and resistance bands – which you can find here but we have also provided alternatives where possible.
Read on until the end of the article for an idea on how to structure your workout programme around these movements.
Calisthenic Back Exercises For Women:
Note: before you begin any of these movements, don’t forget to warm up!
A good warm up will consist of around 5 minutes of heart rate raising movement and will incorporate a fair amount of stretching.
If you are more advanced in your training, you can also use the warm-up to perform easier variations of the movements.
1. Pull Ups
Pull ups are, of course, the staple movement in any back workout.
To best perform them, you will need a pull up bar but if you haven’t yet managed to get your hands on one of these, most parks will have a bar that you can use or you can even use a door in your house.
Make sure, if you do, that you stuff a towel or something similar underneath it to stabilise it and that, above all, the door is sturdy.
Beginners can start with a bar that is lower down, using their knees or crouching to give themselves an assisted push to start with.
Attaching a resistance band to the bar and looping your foot through it can also help.
You should always aim for perfect form, whether you are a beginner or someone with more experience who can complete a pull up.
Your arms should be a little more than a shoulder’s width apart. Ensure you pull your shoulder blades back before beginning and work to perfect your grip-you can read more on that here.
Though this might not be possible with a beginners pull up or assisted pull up, you should also always aim to get the full range of motion with the full extension of your arms.
Once you master the basic pull up, there are a tonne of variations you can try out.
2. Bodyweight Inverted Rows
Again, if you don’t have an appropriate bar for this, you can use any playground bar that is about parallel to your thigh when standing or fashion something out of what you have at home- chairs and a broom can work, for example.
Lying on the ground, place your arms above you and your hands, again, about a shoulder length apart and then use the bar to pull yourself up.
Ensure that you keep your body straight throughout this.
This can be a super challenging movement so, once you have mastered a small number of repetitions, you will still be able to push yourself by increasing this number.
Chances are you will know the deadlift from your leg workouts but performed with good form, this exercise can really target and strengthen those back muscles. You might be thinking: but without weights, what am I lifting?
The thing is, though, if you take your time in the movement to control and perfect your form, you don’t actually need weights to perform a good deadlift.
Place your hands behind your head and keep your elbows back, push your hips back and bend forward. Your knees should only be slightly bent.
Make sure that you stand up and fully straighten your body out between each repetition.
You can progress from the deadlift onto single leg deadlifts.
These are performed the same way but your hands should come out in front of you and towards the floor as you lift one leg up behind you.
The above listed are some of the key back body weight exercises but the following 3, though not an exhaustive list, can be great add-ons either as part of a warm-up or to really burn out that back at the end.
4. Reverse Snow Angels
This one is pretty simple to explain but very effective.
Lie on your front and place your arms out in front of you.
Keep your arms straight but then bring them round in a sweeping circular motion so that your hands end up by your hips.
5. Squatted Rows
This one works best with a resistance band but you can also use a towel. All you need is some kind of pole- a tree could work- for you to loop the band/towel round.
Stand in a squatted position, leaning back whilst holding the band, and use your back to pull yourself toward the pole.
6. Reverse Back Extension
Simply lie on your front and raise your legs up behind you.
So, there you have it.
These exercises are sure to challenge anyone and work to really strengthen the entire back.
It is best to begin with some compound movements- such as the first three exercises we listed- and to perform 3-5 sets of however many repetitions feels suitable for you.
The range of 1-5 repetitions tends to work best for beginners starting out and trying to build strength.
You can then add some accessory movements, such as those listed later in the article, and really try to push yourself with repetitions there.
With these movements, that you are able to practice anywhere, back day is sure to become the best day of the week!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.