8 At-Home Back Exercises for a Stronger Upper Body You Need To Do

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Exercising at home is convenient. You don’t have to go anywhere, which means you’ll not only be able to work out as soon as you get the chance, but you’ll also avoid schmoozing with your bros hanging out by the dumbbells. The only downside is that some muscle groups are more challenging to do at home.

For example, everyone knows that when it’s time to hit the chest, shoulders, and tridents, they can do push-ups until the cows come home. But when you don’t have machines, barbells, and pull-up bars at your disposal, you may need some help planning muscle-building back exercises.

But don’t worry! We have your back, literally. It’s possible to do back exercises at home, and we’ll show you how. Whether you intend to use body weight or have a small amount of equipment, such as dumbbells, we have you covered.

Anatomy and Function of Back Muscles

Before we review the best back exercises at home, it’s important to first understand the muscles that make up your back. Your back is made up of the erector spine, lats, traps, teres major, rhomboids, and multifidus.

Below is a close look at each back muscle function and the best exercises for each.

Erect spine:

The erector spinae includes the spinal cord, spinal longus, and iliocostalis muscles. People tend to think that these lumbar muscles are located in only a small area of ​​the waist, but this is not the case. The vertical spine runs the entire length of the back up to the neck, forming powerful columns on either side of the spine.

They help move the head through lateral flexion and assist in extending the spine. Their most important function is to maintain a neutral spine while bearing weight. Exercises like anti-rotation and anti-flexion exercises, which work against your core resistance, can be very beneficial. An erect spine is also hard work throughout the day as the muscles support your spine against gravity.

Latissimus dorsi:

Your lats cover most of your back and play an important role in creating that coveted V-tapered physique. They arise from multiple spots, but all insert into the humerus.

The latissimus dorsi is responsible for shoulder extension and adduction, horizontal abduction and adduction, and shoulder internal rotation. Pull-downs, pull-ups, and bent-over lines are common exercises used to target the lats.

trapezius muscle:

Divided into upper, middle, and lower parts, this muscle is triangular in shape and begins at the back of the skull and neck, runs through the shoulders, and continues down the middle of the back, where it connects to the shoulder blades and collarbone.

The trap assists in adduction, elevation, depression and external rotation of the scapula. Common exercises to hit the trap are deadlifts, shrugs, overhead plank raises, and barbell rows.

Tres Major:

This muscle is usually contained in the shoulder as part of the rotator cuff. However, it is a small back muscle that originates on the back of the scapula and inserts on the front of the humerus.

It helps support the rotator cuff during movement. Isolation exercises such as face pulls and T-bar rows are excellent training options. Think of throwing, tennis serve, swimming, and rowing as sports that require vigorous activation.

diamond:

The rhomboids lie below the trapezius muscle, originate in the neck, specifically from the various spinous processes of the upper and middle vertebrae, and attach to the medial border of the scapula.

The rhomboid helps stabilize the shoulder and is responsible for retracting, elevating and rotating the scapula.

These are essential postural muscles, and while they work in larger compound movements, traps and rounded shoulders can make it difficult to fully activate them. Postural exercises such as the prone IYT and wall slides are great for targeting your rhomboids.

Multiple fissures:

This small muscle is located close to the spine and acts as a stabilizer . It works with the ligaments and tendons around the spine to help stabilize the vertebrae.

It’s not something you typically hear someone specifically target, but making sure your multi fissures are activated plays a vital role, especially for at-home back muscle exercises.

5 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Back Workouts at Home

Effectively working all the back muscles during a home back workout can be trickier than some other muscle groups, such as the chest. However, trickier is certainly not impossible, and we’ve got 5 great bodyweight exercises to make sure you get the best results from your home back workout.

1. Bird dog:

Bird dogs are great for strengthening the erector spinal and multifidus muscles, helping to improve spinal stability. Building strength in these areas will carry over directly to major strengthening exercises such as deadlifts.

How to make a bird dog:

  • Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keep your back flat.
  • Before lifting the other limb, apply extra tension to the left hand, right knee, and toes to help with balance.
  • Extend your right arm forward while keeping it completely straight while extending your left leg backward. Raise your other limbs until they are in line with your body while keeping your back flat and hips level.
  • Pause for a second and feel the contraction, slowly lower to the starting position and repeat.

2. RKC planks:

No home back workout is complete without this plank variation , which strengthens the upper back muscles in addition to the deep stabilizing muscles of the spine.

How to do RKC Plank:

  • Start in a standard forearm plank with your elbows under your shoulders, your back flat, and your hands clasped together in front of you, trying to squeeze your shoulders like a reverse shrug.
  • Squeeze your quads to lift your knees, then squeeze your glutes. Your butt should be tilted slightly back at the pelvis, and there should be no curvature in your back.
  • Squeeze and hold for the specified time at maximum tension, rest and repeat.

3. IYT in the prone position:

The prone IYT activates the mid-back muscles (trap and rhomboid). Loose shoulders are so common these days, it’s especially important to give these muscles some much-needed attention.

Giving your postural muscles some love will ensure you’ll be able to sit and stand upright.

How to do prone IYT:

  • Lie face down with arms straight in front of you, in line with shoulders, and legs stretched behind you. Point your thumb to the ceiling. Always keep your legs straight and down, and your head in a neutral position facing the floor.
  • To form an I, lift your arms 2-3 inches off the floor, keeping them elevated throughout the exercise. Pinch your shoulder blades together until your hands are near your ears, drawing your arms back.
  • Slowly extend the arms back to the starting position in a straight line, and repeat without touching the floor.
  • The Y and T are the same exercises, but your arms will form a slightly wider Y, then a T straight out to the sides.

4. Overhead wall squat:

Even with squats in the name, overhead wall squats won’t fry your legs. This exercise will improve your thoracic spine (upper back) mobility and strengthen your vertical spine as it supports the overhead position.

All good back exercises at home require overhead wall squats!

How to do an overhead wall squat:

  • Facing an empty wall, raise your arms and place your palms on the wall. Start with feet shoulder-width apart. Point your toes toward the wall and make sure to stay close to it. You can adjust the distance if you need to move back a few inches.
  • Squat your hips down while keeping your hands on the wall and arms straight as they slide down the wall. Make sure to keep your spine flat and only go as low as you can without arching your back.
  • Once you reach the bottom, make sure not to relax any muscles. Maintaining tension, slowly begin to rise back up to the starting position.

5. AB strike in hand:

This is essentially an ab wheel without an ab wheel. This exercise will build tremendous anti-extension core strength, which will help protect your spine. It also strengthens the lats on one side at a time as they stabilize during the movement.

How to do an Ab Strike on the hand:

  • Start on all fours with knees under hips and hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Squeeze your glutes and brace your core as if someone is about to kick your gut. First, raise your left arm hand and take a small step forward. After the left hand is planted, raise the right hand to move and catch up with it.
  • Continue reaching out your hands until you keep your waist from sagging as much as possible, then slowly return to the starting position in one step.

Progression Tips for Home Weight Workouts

Remember, when it comes to the best back exercises at home, progressive overload means more than just adding more weight. These bodyweight exercises focus on slow controlled rhythms and intense timing.

If you cannot complete all repetitions in a row, try again until you are done. Once you are able, go through them again, even slower, by timing your rhythm.

How to Continue Home Back Workouts

We already mentioned tempo and RPE as options for home workouts. Another option is to schedule your breaks to keep them short. If you start with 2-3 minute rest periods, try reducing them to a minute, and eventually even 30 seconds to get your heart rate up.

You can even layer your entire back with push-ups or bodyweight core exercises to keep yourself moving and getting more done. Another option is to do the workout in rounds, doing 1 set of everything and seeing how many times you can complete the entire workout in a certain time period.

Whichever method you choose, one thing’s for sure: You can get a great back workout at home, whether you have the equipment or not. That means there are no excuses when it comes to training your back muscles!

Remember, there are always ways to make something more challenging. Push yourself!

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