Best Bodyweight Back Exercises for Workout Progress
Hunching over your desk, phone or laptop for several hours on end won’t do your back any favors. The back muscles are one of the most important and biggest muscle groups that people are guilty of ignoring. Bodyweight back exercises are crucial to preventing back injuries from occurring and maintaining functional movement.
Why Exercise the Back?
The back is actually used in almost every movement performed throughout the day, from carrying your purse or backpack to bending over to tie your shoes. Exercises and back maintenance are essential, even if you get a desk job, because sitting for a long period of time can place pressure on the discs and strain the back.
Bodyweight Back Exercise Options
There are many options in terms of exercises to perform that can work to strengthen the back and even challenge the muscles or increase muscle mass. If you are looking to build strong back muscles, these bodyweight exercises will work well for you. You can even use some combination of these exercises (as well as others not listed here such as pull ups on a bar or sets of 10 push ups) to build your own bodyweight back workout that feels right for you.
Don’t Over-Exert Yourself
Like when working with other muscle groups it’s important not to overdo it. Shoot for serious workouts a few times a week. Practice stretching the muscles in the shoulders, neck and back daily to improve strength, flexibility and minimize pain and injury and ensure that your body will is prepared to support your bodyweight in each of these exercises with control and without risking injury.
Pillows for Neck Pain
Using the pillows for neck and shoulder pain that are right for you can also help to speed up the muscle recovery time by preventing additional strain caused by poor posture during rest or after overworking the muscles in your back. There are other forms of physical therapy you can get to help with neck pain as well, such as traction devices.
Going to a Health Professional
If you are experiencing chronic pain in your lower back or cervical spine (neck) area, and it is persisting in spite of your exercise routine, or even worsening, you should stop what you’re doing. Consult a doctor and find out what the source of pain is, as you may need a different form of treatment temporarily to remedy the issue. You may even be suffering from a hidden injury, and a period of rest may be necessary to recover fully before resuming workouts.
The Best Bodyweight Back Exercises for Neck and Back Health
In addition to moving around at least once an hour, you should also practice a few basic bodyweight exercises. The bodyweight back exercises covered here will work to target the rhomboids, lumbar and lats, not to mention the spinal erector muscles that support, stabilize and surround the spine. And because these are bodyweight exercises, no equipment is needed and you can do these exercises at home if you need to (a mat, a bench, a bar, or dumbbells are optional).
Reverse Snow Angel
The reverse snow angel is an easy, effective back exercise that works to strengthen the back. You may do the exercise empty-handed, or you may hold a dumbbell bar in each hand in an overhand grip to build upper body and arm strength as well. If you do not have this equipment available, you do not need it to complete the move.
Place yourself face down on the ground with your arms straight at your sides and the palms facing down. Your shoulder blades and hands should be a couple of inches off the ground. You can do this by pinching the scapula together and engaging the rhomboids and lats.
Motion for Back Exercises
While keeping your head facing down, in a controlled slow motion, bring the arms up past the shoulders, up to the ears until the thumbs directly meet above the head. Bring the arms back to the beginning position. You must keep the elbows locked and the arms straight throughout the entire movement in order to ensure both the shoulders and lats are engaged. Return to the starting position. Do five reps with sixty seconds of rest between each set (you may even do 10 reps or 15 reps as you build up your strength over time).
The Dolphin Kick
The dolphin kick is another popular exercise and one of the best bodyweight exercises for a bodyweight back workout. This is a great workout for only your back muscles, but also your core muscles and other areas of your body.
Find a bench and place your body face down. The crease of your hips should be placed at the end of the bench and your shoulder blades centered above. The feet should rest on the ground with the hands firmly placed for support on the underside of the bench.
Motion for Back Exercises
Straighten the legs while raising them and engaging the lower back, hips, glutes, spinal erectors and abs. The toes should remain pointed away from the body. Try to hold this position for ten seconds, engaging all of your muscles, before you slowly drop the feet. Repeat this bodyweight back exercise for five reps, resting for sixty seconds between sets. Alternatively, you can do multiple sets of 10 reps if you have already built up some strength.
Challenging Back Exercises
If you are looking for a few more challenging bodyweight back exercises than the basic bodyweight back exercises listed thus far, we have a few exercises that you’ll like. These will take your back workout to the next level and strengthen muscles beyond the reaches of the simpler bodyweight back exercises.
The superman is a classic exercise you’ll find in many HIIT routines. It is one of the best bodyweight back exercises out there. This exercises does require you to lie on your chest on the floor, so you may want to find a mat before you complete the exercise if you need one.
To do the superman, lie face down on your chest on the floor with your eyes at a neutral gaze and your chin on the ground. Your toes should be pointed in a straight line under you while the ankles remain touching. Extend your arms above the shoulder blades and place them on the floor so that the palms rest flat on the ground, shoulder width apart.
Motion for Back Exercises
Now, pull and engage the shoulders, upper back, glutes and lower back, pulling yourself just a couple of inches off the ground, balancing on your chest and abdomen. The legs and arms should remain fully contracted so that the feet and hands are elevated at the same level. Continue to hold this position for thirty sends and repeat for four reps. Alterative, you can do 10 reps, holding the position for five seconds each, and you can even do multiple sets of 10.
The hip hinge is a powerful lower back exercise that provides impressive results and strengthens the core of the body as well as the lower back muscles.
To start, stand straight with your arms at your sides and hands on your hips as you move. Your feet should be placed just slightly wider than the hips, flat on the floor.
Motion for Back Exercises
Engage and pull the core, pulling up your shoulder blades and upper back slightly and pushing the ribs down. Bend at the waist in a controlled, slow motion while keeping the shoulders stacked over the hips. Pull to keep the hamstrings, glutes and lower back engaged during the entire bodyweight back exercise. Don’t allow your lower back to sag or lift too much before you return to the starting position.
Importance of Proper Body Form
Avoid rounding the lower back, upper back, or shoulder blades which can result in the loss of the neutral spine position. Form is very important for the spine with this lower back exercise and should be perfectly replicated with each rep in order to get the most out of the exercise and avoid injury or not pull a muscle. Do three sets of fifteen reps, resting for one minute between sets, or you can do multiple sets of 10 reps each.
Challenge: Noes and Toes Against a Wall
If you’re up for a challenge you can try this next advanced moved. The nose and toes against a wall is an exercise that requires you to pull and keep your core tight the entire time. You will also need to keep your back and spine neutral and the hips flexed. This exercise can give you great upper body and arm strength as well, similar to pull ups.
To start, place your palms on the floor shoulder width apart with, outside of the shoulders. You will have your legs and feet straight behind you an against a wall. Avoid bending your elbows for this exercise, and make sure you have control to keep your body straight as you perform the move.
Motion for Back Exercises
Slowly move your hands backward towards the wall and your legs and feet up the wall. You’ll get to the top of this movement when just the toes and nose touch the wall. Next, return and lower yourself down the wall by bringing the feet down to the floor and walking the hands across the floor in a straight line and a controlled manner. Do this for three reps and hold each position for thirty seconds. Alternatively, you can do 10 reps of the exercise holding for just a few seconds, resting for a minute between sets.
Some other exercises that are great for building back muscles that you might consider adding to your back workout include pull ups on a bar, various push ups, holding a plank position on your elbows are all great options for bodyweight exercises that build back strength. These exercises build strength in other areas of your body as well such as your core legs, arms, and even neck. Having a variety of exercises in your back workouts will give you a complete and well-rounded routine to strengthen your body and better your overall health.
Stretching for Better Back and Neck Health
Before you execute any movement or take on any type of workout, warming up through stretching is a must. To make sure you know how to get a stretch in correctly can be the difference between straining muscles and seeing results, especially if working out alone at home is right for you.
According to Experts
Fitness experts recommend stretching for five to ten minutes before a workout or for even longer if a workout you’re doing is particularly rough. This is especially true for heavy weight lifting, where failing to stretch can cause the limbs to lock up or put you at risk of muscle spasms, strains, or to pull a muscle in your body.
Stretching Instead of Working Out
Stretching in place of a workout can also be a good option, especially if you have been working out hard all week and don’t want to take a rest day. Make sure you always set aside adequate time for a few sets of stretches before and after a back workout, as well as whenever needed.
Yoga and Pilates
If you feel that you have to be active on your rest day, try a yoga or Pilates routine or running. These equipment-free workouts will teach you how to correctly stretch and can even work to strengthen and lengthen certain muscle groups. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re executing these bodyweight back exercises correctly, watch a video or join a yoga class once or twice a week to ensure you get the moves right.
Staying Fit at Home
The great thing about a bodyweight exercise routine that doesn’t require equipment is you can do it at home! Staying active and getting your body moving at home gives you space and extra time to stretch and recover. Make sure you set aside time for these and avoid getting caught up in the business of life before you do a few adequate sets of stretches.
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