5 Bodyweight Back Exercises – No Equipment Required

Ideally, we’d all get our workouts done in the gym. There’s all the equipment you could ever need, and making regular progress is made a little more straightforward when you’re able to add weight to the bar or move the pin one spot lower on the machines.

While this is the ideal scenario, most of us will have days where we just can’t make it to the gym and finding an alternative way to work out becomes a priority. We’ve covered a list of ways to stay fit when you’re travelling, and this should get the job done on most days you can’t hit the weights.

While most of the body is fairly easy to hit through bodyweight workouts (squats, push-ups, etc.) the back is a little more challenging to target with no equipment. Having a pull-up bar at home can make getting a good back workout much more straightforward, but that’s not always an option.

With that in mind, we’ll pulled together our top 5 bodyweight back exercises with no equipment required. These will help you get a decent workout, and while they won’t provide as much benefit as most of the mass building back exercises that use weights, they’ll get the job done!

Reverse Push-ups

The standard push-up is one of the most widely used exercises for building a bigger chest, but the reverse push-up can be used to help build the upper back, core and shoulders.

You’ll need something sturdy to balance between – two dining chairs should do the job, but any two solid objects which are a similar height will work. The video below will show you the proper form for this exercise.


Bodyweight Inverted Rows

Barbell rows are one of the most effective ways of building your back, but in the absence of a barbell, we’ll need to improvise and do some bodyweight inverted rows.

To effectively perform this exercise you’ll need something which can support your weight and which you can hang from. There are several ways of doing this – if you have a sturdy table you can use the edges to pull yourself up, if you have stairs with a gap between the step you can use them, or you can use your door frame and a towel as below.

You’re basically looking to grab a surface and pull yourself up towards it. This movement will work the upper back, lats and core, and is also a good way to progress towards a full pull-up if you currently lack the upper body strength to do them properly.

Pull-Ups on Stairs or Door Frame

Pull-ups are one of the most effective ways of building size and strength in your back, and ideally, you should have some kind of pull-up bar at home. They’re pretty cheap, don’t take up much space and can provide you with a pretty thorough workout.

If you don’t have access to a pull-up bar, there are a few alternatives at home that you can use. You can make use of your doorframe (if you have the right type of frame), the door itself (if you have a solid door and good hinges!) or even your stairs. The video below will show you a few alternatives to pull-ups if you don’t have a bar.

Superman Back Extension

A genuinely equipment-free back exercise, superman back extensions help work the entire posterior chain and are a surprisingly challenging movement. It’s a little bit like a backwards abdominal crunch – lie on your stomach and extend your arms over your head, then lift the arms and feet. The video below will show you the proper form.

Bird Dog

Like the Superman movement, the Bird Dog will help build strength in the posterior chain and requires no equipment whatsoever. It’s also a good exercise for the core in general, and is fairly easy to perform. The video below will teach you the proper form.


So there you have it, 5 straightforward back exercises you don’t need any equipment for. It’s not the ideal replacement for a proper gym workout, but it should get the job done if you can’t get hold of any equipment.


  • Updated July 17, 2020
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