How to get an effective back workout with little or no equipment

One of the most important but challenging muscle groups to work without equipment is your back.  Building a strong back helps you with great posture, balances tight chest muscles (and most of us are VERY tight through the front of our bodies), relieves stress through the neck and creates great pulling strength. If you don’t have access to a gym with a chin-up bar or cable rowing machines then it can get tough to get an effective strength workout in your back.


Or is it?


If you don’t have any equipment at home, then we generally recommend prisoner squats.  The position of lifting the arms and linking the hands behind the head creates tension through the upper back and provides a great bodyweight alternative.  Make sure you keep your elbows wide and your eyes forward – the last thing we want is for you pull your head forward creating more stress through the neck.

And of course you can use the bodyweight alternatives for bent over rows mimicking the dumbbell movement and ensuring that both shoulder blades are pulled down and squeezed together.  Keep your chest open, bum back and spine in a long neutral position.  Even without weights, this can be a tough exercise for many woman to perform properly!

renegade rowLawnmowers are a bodyweight renegade row movement.  You can do these from a plank position either on your knees or toes or even using an incline bench.  Pull the elbow close to the ribs and slide your shoulder blades toward your spine and down into your back pocket.  If you own dumbbells – even better!

A resistance band or theraband takes little space and is super cheap to purchase.  Ask your physio for therabands and your local discount store is sure to stock resistance bands for less than $10. Wrap them around a convenient pole or secure in a doorway  making sure the door is locked securely! To work your back at different angles vary the height you’ve anchored the band at – waist height or head height will give you great muscle recruitment.

And if you don’t have access to any equipment at all, the use of a pillowcase or even a towel can give you a great rowing action.  Set your feet close to the anchor point as shown, lean back into a straight plank position keeping abs tight and pull your elbows alongside the ribs to get a great back squeeze.  Always remember that the area of tension should occur south of your bra strap NOT around your neck muscles.

There you have it, some super easy ways to swap out back exercises when you don’t have equipment.

Oh, remember that you can use these alternatives with any of Shawna’s programs.  You can find them HERE.

  • Challenge Fat Loss
  • Pull up Challenge
  • Challenge Jump Rope
  • Challenge Burpee
  • Challenge Complexes
  • The 21 Day Challenge Diet Boot Camp Challenges
  • And Female Fat Loss Over 40

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