Strong upper-body muscles (and back muscles, specifically) are not only key for a balanced body, but they’re also your best defense against pain, and injury for years to come. And if you spend a lot of your time seated at a desk, fitting in regular home back workouts can help pull your shoulder blades back and keep you upright, improving your posture.
Still, without the gym’s cable crossover machine or workout benches, it can sometimes seem difficult to do back workouts at home. To help you out, here are eight at-home back exercises to build a strong back and shoulders for an overall more stable you.
Best At-Home Back Workouts
How it works: Three or four days a week, do 1 set of each of these at-home back workout exercises for a complete back workout at home. Take little to no rest in between moves. After the last exercise, rest 1 to 2 minutes and repeat the full circuit 2 more times (3 times total).
You'll need: A pair of light-weight dumbbells and a pair of medium-weight dumbbells.
This at-home back exercise proves that you don't need huge weights to make some huge strength gains.
A. Grab a pair of light-weight dumbbells and stand with feet hip-width apart.
B. Take a slight bend in knees, shift hips back, and lower torso until it's parallel to the floor.
C. Bring weights together and turn palms to face forward.
D. Keeping arms straight, lift weights up to shoulder height then lower back down. (Make sure to keep core and glutes engaged the entire time.)
Do 15 reps.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Any time you’re browsing back workouts to do at home, you’re bound to see dumbbell rows, since they strengthen the largest muscle of the upper back. Aim to keep shoulder blades down and together and core engaged through this entire at-home back workout move.
A. Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in one hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, bend knees, and shift hips back, lowering torso until nearly parallel with the ground. Place right hand on a wall in front for balance.
B. Draw the weight up toward chest by bending left elbow straight up toward the ceiling.
Do 10 reps per side.
When it comes to back workouts at home (or anywhere, FTR) it’s all about control. To get the most out of this back exercise, focus on eliminating momentum and utilizing your back rather than arm muscles.
A. Holding a pair of light-weight dumbbells, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
B. Shift hips back as you lower torso until nearly parallel with the ground.
C. Turn palms to face each other, bend elbows, and lift weights up to shoulder height.
D. Gently lower back down, keeping core and glutes engaged during the entire movement.
Do 10 reps.
Plank with Lateral Arm Raise
Moving your limbs away from your core makes this at-home back exercise an abs workout and balance challenge, too.
A. Start in a straight-arm plank with hands below and in line with shoulders, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
B. Keeping hips as still as possible, lift one arm up to shoulder height.
C. Return to center, then lift the other arm to shoulder height. (Draw belly button up and in and keep your body centered.)
Do 10 reps per side.
Rather than cranking out hundreds of reps, incorporate more isometric back exercises in your back workout to help improve core stability and control.
A. Start in push-up position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, feet hip-width apart. Body should form a straight line from heels to head.
B. Bend elbows and lower body until hovering a few inches above the ground. Hold for 1 deep breath, and then press half-way up and hold for 1 deep breath.
C. Lower back down to lowest point, holding for 1 deep breath.
D. Return to your half-way point for one more hold.
Do 5 reps.
Back and Booty Blasters
While this at-home back workout move focuses on your glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs, it also belongs in lower back workouts at home. (P.S. the muscles along the entire back of your body are called the posterior chain.)
A. Lay flat on your stomach. Lift chest up, arching back and interlacing hands behind back.
B. Lift hands and legs up, touching heels together.
C. Slowly move legs apart and bring them back together.
Do 20 reps.
Time for a round of twister — but in the form of an at-home back exercise. This chair pose will stretch and strengthen your back while the rotations will hit your obliques.
A. Squat into chair position with hands in prayer pose in front of chest.
B. Twist torso to the right while remaining in chair pose, and place the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. The other elbow should be pointing to the ceiling.
C. Hold for three breaths, then return to center. Repeat on the other side.
Do 4 reps.
You'll seriously sculpt your chest, too, while doing this at-home back workout move — as long as you don't let your hips drop when you lower to the ground.
A. Start in push-up position and bend one leg behind so the bottom of the foot is facing toward the ceiling.
B. Lower body to the ground by bending elbows, keeping back straight.
C. Push back up.
Do 10 reps per side.