For a seriously strong back, you probably think you have to head to your local gym to use the pull-up bar and cable machines. But you may not realize that you can give your back a tough workout without the use of any equipment at all.
Try this 10-minute workout that can be performed anywhere using just your body weight as resistance. Perform each exercise on the list for 50 seconds with a 10 second break between each.
1. Dolphin kicks
Muscles worked: Lower back, hips
Start this move by lying on your stomach on an elevated surface if you have one available (a bench works well here, as suggested by Daily Burn). The crease of your hip should be at the edge of the bench or elevated surface. Then, straighten your legs by squeezing your glutes and engaging your abs. Lift your legs as high as you can while keeping them straight, and lower them with control back down to just below the hips to complete one rep.
Muscles worked: Lower back, upper back, shoulders, core, glutes
Begin this move face-down on the floor with arms straight and long by your ears and legs straight behind you, ankles touching. When you’re ready to begin, lift your arms and shoulders off the floor as you also lift straightened legs. You may only get a few inches off the ground in your upper and lower body, and that’s OK — just be sure to squeeze your glutes, abdominals, arms, and back as you lift to get the most out of the exercise. Lower your arms and legs down so they hover just above the ground, and lift again.
3. Scapular push-ups
Muscles worked: Shoulders, lats, core
This variation on a regular push-up begins in traditional push-up position. Keep hands shoulder-width apart and your back straight (no rounding or slouching here) as you begin the move. When you’re ready to begin, keep your arms straight as you squeeze your shoulder blades together and apart. The movement will be small here, but you should notice a few inches of movement in your shoulder area when you’re doing them correctly.
4. Good mornings
Muscles worked: Hamstrings, hips, lower back
You can perform this exercise with a barbell if you wish, says Stack, but if you don’t have any equipment, it still benefits your back, hips, and legs. Begin this move standing with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent, and your back should be flat, as you’ll be hinging forward at the hips to initiate the movement. To begin, slowly push your hips back until your torso is nearly parallel with the ground, and then push your hips forward to complete one rep.
If you’re doing this move with a barbell, allow it to rest across your rear delts. Or, you can hold a dumbbell in your hands and keep it close to your chest during the move.
5. Atomic burpees
Muscles worked: Core, shoulders, quads, lats, chest
Fitness recommends this burpee variation that’s great for your core and back. Start by lying on your back and keep your legs straight out in front of you on the ground. To begin, place your hands behind your head as you initiate a sit-up. Complete the sit-up, and at the top of the move, jump to standing. Then, jump back down into push-up position, complete the push-up, jump your feet back in to a squat, and jump straight upward to finish off the burpee. That’s one rep — so get right back down into sit-up position to keep the movement going.
6. Walk-outs with a push-up
Muscles worked: Core, shoulders, lats, chest
Here’s another back exercise that will also get your heart pumping. Start in a standing position and hinge at the hips with soft knees until you can touch the ground with flat palms. Then, keeping your feet where they are, walk out with your hands until you’re in push-up position with hands directly under your shoulders. Complete the push-up and walk your hands back toward your feet to complete one rep.
7. Marching bridge
Muscles worked: Core, glutes, upper back, lower back
If a regular bridge isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try this variation provided by Livestrong.com. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and both feet on the floor. You should also keep your arms by your side here. To begin, push through your heels and use your glutes to lift your hips to the ceiling. At the top of the movement, lift one foot off the ground and stay balanced for a few seconds before you place it back down. Switch feet while keeping hips lifted.
8. Pilates press
Muscles worked: Shoulders, lats, triceps, hips, chest
Here’s another push-up variation from Fitness that you should try for a full-back challenge. Start in traditional push-up position with arms directly under your shoulders and back flat. Bend your right leg so your foot is close to your behind and maintain your push-up position by balancing on your left leg. Keeping elbows close to your sides, bend your arms to lower your chest to the ground and push back up. Complete five to eight reps on one side before switching which leg is bent.
9. Reverse snow angels
Muscles worked: Shoulders, lats, upper back, mid-back
Daily Burn suggests this upper back exercise. Start by lying facedown on the ground with legs long behind you, keeping arms straight by your sides with palms down. To begin, pinch your shoulder blades together to keep your arms elevated just above the ground. Engage your mid-back and lats as you bring your outstretched arms past your shoulders and up past your ears in a slow, controlled motion. Your thumbs should meet above your head before you bring your arms down to your sides again to complete one rep.
10. Superman plank
Muscles worked: Core, glutes, lats, shoulders
Not only are planks great for your core, but they’re also excellent for maintaining a strong back. Begin this move in push-up position with a flat back and hands directly under your shoulders. Hold your plank as you lift your left arm and right leg at the same time, balancing on your right arm and left leg. After 10 seconds, switch the arm and leg that’s lifted until a minute passes.
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