Home back workout

Home back workout

09-03-2016 | 
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Our series of short articles on home workout goes on, with another muscle group that is mostly considered impossible to train at home, or at least with very low efficiency. As in the case of legs, there is no wonder here either. It’s all about knowing the right exercises and performing them right.You’d like to do a good back workout at home, but you have no clue about the exercises? Well then, this article is just for you!

Maybe I should BACK off?

No, you shouldn’t. Similarly to the leg workout, you probably won’t be able to build Mr. Olympia back muscles. Still you can work your back pretty good at home, just like any other muscle group. True: your possibilities are somewhat limited if you have no equipment (a dumbbell or two, at least). There will be no 200-kg deadlifts nor pulley exercises... so what? A good back training can be based on exercises involving free weights. If you have a dumbbell, that’s cool. If you have two, that’s even better. And if you have a bar, too, with a sufficient amount of weight plates, nothing can stop you. You can practically do anything with these pieces of equipment.

Bent-over dumbbell rows

Bent-over dumbbell rows

You can develop your back muscles with rows and pulling exercises, basically. In the light of the above, this is not as complicated as it seems. Forget about cable rows, pull-downs or rowing machines with chest supports and try to focus on the things you can do without these. Believe it or not, each of these exercises can be substituted with free weights. However, a good knowledge and strict performance of the right exercises matters a lot in this case.If you can achieve significant results with free weights, you can say you have the mind-muscle connection that is necessary to provide targeted load for your back muscles. Once you have a fully equipped gym at your disposal, nothing can stop you from beefing up your back for real.

Now let’s see what we’ve got!

Home training program for free weight exercises

As we mentioned above, most of your training should be based on rows. These are the most important exercises. One-arm rows, bent-over barbell rows... practically any row is feasible with two dumbbells. Including, but not limited to the following:

  • Bent-over dumbbell rows: 5x6-12 (depending on the amount of weight you have)
  • One-arm dumbbell rows: 3x8-12
  • Pull-ups (with a grip of your choice): Do 4 sets with as many reps as you can, but don’t reach failure
  • Bent-over shrugs: 3x8-15
  • Inverted rows: 3x10-12

Besides bent-over rows, you can do some tricks with one-arm rows: you may keep your back near to horizontal, near to vertical, or bent in any angle, depending on which part of your back you wish to target: the upper, the lower or the middle. The primary load goes to the lats, but the more you target the upper part, the more of the load will be taken over by the upper parts of your traps (those closer to the spine). Plus, you can vary the angle in the case of bent-over rows, too.

Alternating one-arm dumbbell rows

Alternating one-arm dumbbell rows

Pull-ups are basic exercises. They enable you to target your latissimus dorsi and teres major (these are the muscles you might mistake for the upper part of your lats; if they are heavily sore, you might even feel the pain in your armpits). And you still haven’t left home. In this version, shrugs load the middle and the lower fibers of your traps, and the rhomboids get their share, too. Inverted rows are basically equivalent to bent-over rows performed with a horizontal back, only this time you are using your own bodyweight. On the other hand, this exercise spares your spine and lower back, still it is suitable for working your whole back.

Inverted rows

Inverted rows

Besides the above, your rear delts will get additional load nearly every time. All clear.
If you are not very well equipped with weights, you can of course apply any intensity-boosting technique in your back workout, too, to make the best of your home opportunities. But the rule of thumb is: the pull-up is a must, even if you can’t do it. Push it, do it and you will make it. If this is OK and you can do rows as well, you are on the right track.

A short program to use your own bodyweight if you have no equipment

Yes, it is possible. And it is much-much better than renouncing back workout completely, just because you have no equipment. The spine (sic!) of this program can be the pull-up exercise. There are many ways to do this. Just find something strong in your apartment you can hold on to. If you can’t, there’s nothing lost: a pull-up bar that can be mounted on a door case is an excellent solution. This entails some expenses, but much less than the costs of buying a complete set of weights.

A pull-up bar on a door case. Just in case.

A pull-up bar on a door case. Just in case.

An example for a training program:

  • Pull-ups (with a grip of your choice): Do 5 sets with as many reps as you can, but don’t reach failure
  • Extensions: you know, like crunches. Only inverted. Lay prone, with your hands on your nape and extend your back upwards. Do 3-4 sets with 15-20 reps each.
  • Inverted rows: 5x10-12

It ain’t a big deal. If you find it too easy, you may begin with supersets. You can combine the exercises in whichever way you want. But a circuit training may be the best solution. Don’t worry: this time you’ll feel it for sure :) Progressive load is a bit more difficult, though not impossible. In the case of pull-ups, you always have the choice to increase repetitions.

Home back workout

The back extension is very useful exercise, and you might even add it to the program that involves equipment. It works the erector spinae in a friendly manner, which can be really useful in everyday life, too, even if you do not aspire for bodybuilding success. You can vary the order of exercises freely. It works best if you tailor the program to yourself. The above guidelines are for illustration purposes only. And with a little creativity, you might even add anything that comes to your mind.

See? You can always do a basic-level back training even at home. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Of course, a gym is a better place for that. But if you want to work out at home for whatever reason, then, with this article, we hope we could show you the way to a brutal back bombing, if that’s what you want.



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