5 Best Calisthenics Back Exercises + Calisthenics Back Workout
The 5 Best Calisthenics Back Exercises for a Stronger, More Defined Back
If you want to build a stronger, more sculpted back through calisthenics, you've come to the right place.
In this article, we'll cover the 5 best calisthenics back exercises that will help you develop the upper and lower back muscles, resulting in better posture, improved performance, and an aesthetically pleasing "V" shape physique.
First off, why is it important to train the back in the first place? Well, because most people either ignore or underestimate the importance of the back muscles.
The back helps stabilize the spine, improve posture, prevent injuries, and yes, it also makes your physique look much more balanced from behind. So let's get to those exercises, shall we?
Arguably the best bodyweight back exercise of all time, pull-ups target the lats, traps, rhomboids, posterior delts, biceps, and forearms.
- Grip the pull-up bar with palms facing away and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Retract the scapula and brace the core
- Pull yourself up until the upper chest touches the bar
- Slowly lower back down with control
Do 3-5 sets of 5-12 reps, adjusting the grip or using resistance bands as needed.
2. Superman Holds
This simple back exercise strengthens the lower back and glutes.
- Lie face down with arms extended overhead, legs straight behind you
- Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off the floor
- Hold for 10-30 seconds before gently lowering back down
Aim for 3-5 sets as tolerated. The longer you can hold, the more it will strengthen the lower back.
3. Bodyweight Rows
Also called inverted rows or horizontal pull-ups, these mimic seated cable rows and strengthen the lats, traps, rear delts and biceps.
- Set up a sturdy bar or suspension trainer at hip height
- Grip the handles and lean back with straight arms and legs
- Pull yourself upward by driving elbows back and squeezing the shoulder blades together
- Slowly lower until arms are straight again
Do 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps, experimenting with grip. Closer the hands, the harder it gets.
4. Back Extensions
This exercise targets the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
- Lie face down with arms along your sides, palms down
- Contract the glutes and hamstrings to lift your torso off the floor
- Hold the top contracted position for 2 seconds
- Slowly lower back down with control
Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, holding longer on each rep to increase difficulty.
5. Wall Slides
Wall slides strengthen the middle traps, rhomboids and improve shoulder mobility.
- Stand with back flat against a wall
- Raise arms overhead to shoulder height, elbows bent 90 degrees
- "Slide" elbows down the wall as far as mobility allows
- Slide elbows back up wall to start position
Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps, focusing on moving shoulder blades, not elbows.
So there you have it - the 5 best calisthenics back exercises to sculpt a stronger, more aesthetically pleasing backside. As you master these movements, feel free to add variations like wide grip pull ups, single arm rows, Superman rotations and back lever holds. Just be sure to train them no more than 2 times per week to allow adequate recovery.
Commit to a solid back training routine using these exercises and over time you'll stand taller, perform better and look like a Greek statue from behind. Now stop reading and start training that back!
Now that you know the top 5 best calisthenics back exercises, let's dig deeper into building an effective back workout routine. We'll also cover proper form, beginner modifications and additional exercise variations to take your training to more advanced levels.
Constructing Your Calisthenics Back Workout
When it comes to working out your back through calisthenics, it's important to train both the upper and lower back.
The upper back includes muscles like the lats, traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. The lower back targets muscles like the erector spinae along the spine, as well as the glutes and hamstrings.
Aim to structure your back workout into 3 supersets, pairing one vertical pull (like pull ups) with one horizontal pull (like inverted rows). Then finish with a lower back exercise like back extensions or Superman holds.
- Pair pull ups with inverted rows
- Pair chin ups with bodyweight rows
- Pair close grip pull ups with banded face pulls
- Finish with Superman holds
This allows you to maximize muscle activation and saves time by limiting rest between movements. Do 2-4 sets of each superset pairing and perform this type of back workout 1-2 times per week, depending on your recovery capacity.
Proper Form Tips for Maximum Results
To get the most out of all these back exercises, proper form is key.
Here are some quick tips:
Pull Ups: Retract shoulder blades, brace core, pull from lats by leading with chest, avoid swinging
Supermans: Keep arms/legs straight & long, maintain neutral spine alignment
Inverted Rows: Keep body straight, drive elbows back squeezing shoulder blades Back Extensions: Initiate movement by contracting glutes & hamstrings
Wall Slides: Move from shoulder blades, not elbows, keep low back flat against wall
Really focus on feeling those back muscles contract through the full range of motion. Time under tension is key.
Modifications to Make These Exercises Easier
Don't be discouraged if you can't perform some of these movements yet. Here are some modifications to make them more achievable:
Pull Ups: Use resistance bands or start with scapular pulls
Supermans: Start with arms/legs raised a few inches off the floor
Inverted Rows: Elevate feet to decrease resistance
Back Extensions: Start with smaller range of motion
Wall Slides: Bend knees, stand away from wall to decrease resistance
Over time as you get stronger, you’ll gain the capacity to do them strict without assistance.
Advanced Variations to Add More Challenge
Once you master perfect form through full range of motion, try adding these variations:
Pull Ups: Weighted pull ups, wide grip or front lever pull ups
Supermans: Full body extensions with opposite arm/leg lifts
Inverted Rows: Uneven rows, explosive concentric reps
Back Extensions: Single leg or no arm variations
Wall Slides: Overhead carries to increase time under tension
Adding load or instability forces those back muscles to work even harder.
The key is to start simple mastering proper form through full range of motion before chasing advanced variations. Patience and consistency pays off over time.
Sample Beginner Calisthenics Back Workout Routine
Here’s a back workout routine putting this all together for someone just starting out:
Exercise Sets Reps
Pull Ups 5-8
Inverted Rows 8-10
Superman Holds 10-20 sec
Wall Slides 10
All exercises done with proper form focusing on muscle contraction.
Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. Increase volume over time as you get stronger.
So now you have all the tools to train your back effectively through calisthenics without weights or a gym. Just commit to mastering proper form, allow for progressive overload over time and remain patient in your journey.
In 6-12 months of consistent intelligent training, you’ll develop a strong sculpted back, stand taller with improved posture and feel incredible. Now go pick your favorite vertical pull, pair it with horizontal pull and watch your back transform in no time!
Now that you know how to construct and build out the meat of your calisthenics back workout, let’s discuss a few additional tips to maximize progress and results over time.
Master Your Pull Up and You’ve Mastered Your Back
What’s the one exercise almost all impressive back transformations have in common?
That’s right – the mighty pull up!
The pull up (and it’s sibling the chin up) activates muscles through the entire upper back unlike any other bodyweight back exercise. If your goal is a wider thicker back, mastering pull ups should be priority number one.
How do you go about mastering the pull up if you can’t do one yet?
Use pull up bands, start with negatives, then move to scapular pulls before attempting full dead hang pull ups. Grease the grove with frequent submaximal sets.
Once you’ve built up the capacity to do 12-15 dead hang pull ups with proper form, you can start adding weight if greater strength is your goal.
But don’t neglect all those other vertical and horizontal pull variations we covered. Mixing up grips, angles and equipment will ensure balanced upper back development.
Just be patient with the process, keep your ego aside, and get really good at pull ups over time. Your back will transform.
Focus on Unilateral, Anti-Rotation, and Explosive Training
Take your back development up another notch by incorporating unilateral, anti-rotation and explosive training into the mix.
Unilateral movements (single arm training) improve weak points, enhance core stability and better simulate real world demands. Try ring rows, single arm inverted rows and suitcase carries.
Anti-rotation moves force the back muscles to work exceptionally hard to resist movement. Pallof presses, landmine rows and weighted side bends are great options.
Explosive pull ups develop devastating pulling power and break plateaus. But ensure you have quality strict reps first before chasing speed.
Sprinkle these concepts into your programming intelligently and you’ll build a complete back that handles anything life throws at it with confidence.
Active Recovery is Key for Back Health
We covered a ton of exercises here and it’s easy to get overzealous, overtrain and injure your back if you’re not careful.
Remember even the strongest backs still need adequate recovery to repair muscle tissue and get stronger.
I recommend a max of 18-24 total sets per back workout, training back no more than 2x per week for most people. Listen to your body.
On off days, incorporate active recovery with blood flow restriction training, contrast showers, gentle yoga and massage.
Pay attention to your nutrition, sleep quality and stress management too.
Do this consistently while progressively overloading your workouts and your back will transform like never before. You got this champion!
FAQ Section on Calisthenic Back Exercises
What are calisthenic back exercises?
Calisthenic back exercises are bodyweight exercises that target the muscles in your back without the need for equipment. They help strengthen the back and shoulders.
What is the benefit of calisthenic back exercises?
Calisthenic back exercises offer numerous benefits, including improved back and shoulder strength, engagement of core muscles, and the convenience of performing them without equipment.
Can I build my back without equipment?
Yes, you can build your back using calisthenic back exercises, which require little to no equipment. These exercises use your body weight to engage and strengthen the back muscles.
What are the best bodyweight back exercises?
The best bodyweight back exercises are those that target various muscles of the back, including the upper and lower back. Examples include pull-ups, back activation exercises, and exercises against a wall.
Are there advanced calisthenics exercises for the back?
Yes, advanced calisthenics exercises exist to further challenge your back muscles. These exercises often involve a higher level of difficulty and may require additional calisthenics equipment.
What are the 5 best calisthenic back exercises?
The 5 best calisthenic back exercises include pull-ups, exercises that target the upper back muscles, exercises to strengthen the lower back, and back activation exercises.
Can I strengthen my back at home?
Yes, you can strengthen your back at home using calisthenic back exercises that require little to no equipment. These exercises engage your back muscles effectively.
Do calisthenics exercises use core muscles?
Yes, calisthenics exercises engage your core muscles in addition to the muscles in your back. This provides a comprehensive workout for your upper body.
What equipment is required for calisthenic back exercises?
Calisthenic back exercises typically require minimal equipment, such as a pull-up bar. However, many exercises can be performed with just your body weight.
How can I engage my back muscles without equipment?
-You can engage your back muscles effectively without equipment by performing calisthenic exercises that specifically target the back muscles and require little to no equipment.
What is the role of calisthenic exercises in strengthening the back?
Calisthenic exercises play a crucial role in strengthening the back as well as the shoulders and core. They help improve overall upper body strength.
Which muscles are targeted by calisthenic back exercises?
- Calisthenic back exercises primarily target the muscles of the back and shoulders, including the latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, and rhomboids.
How can I rotate my calisthenics training to include the back?
To incorporate more back exercises into your calisthenics training, you can focus on pulling exercises like pull-ups and variations, which are great for strengthening the back.
Can calisthenics exercises benefit the muscles of the lower body?
While calisthenics primarily target the upper body, they also engage the core and indirectly involve the lower body, contributing to overall functional strength.
Is a pull-up bar the only piece of equipment needed for calisthenic back exercises?
A pull-up bar is a common piece of equipment for calisthenic back exercises, but other exercises can be performed without any equipment, making it versatile for home workouts.
How can I strengthen my back without putting strain on my back and neck?
Performing back exercises with proper form and technique, and gradually increasing intensity, can help you strengthen your back without causing strain on your back and neck.
Are calisthenics exercises a great way to build a stronger back?
Yes, calisthenics exercises are an excellent way to build a stronger back, as they target various back muscle groups and can be adapted to different fitness levels.
Can I work on my back and shoulders simultaneously with calisthenic exercises?
Yes, many calisthenic exercises work the back and shoulders simultaneously, providing a well-rounded upper body workout.
What are some various exercises that target the back?
Various exercises that target the back include pull-ups, rows, back activation exercises, and exercises against a wall.
Can calisthenics athletes benefit from specific back-focused training?
Yes, calisthenics athletes often include back-focused training to improve their overall strength and performance, as a strong back is crucial for many calisthenics movements.
My Journey With Calisthenics Back Exercises
When I first got into calisthenics, I'll admit - I neglected training my back. Like many beginners, I was focused on push-ups, pull-ups and core moves that felt more "macho". But I soon learned the error of my ways. After developing some muscle imbalances and poor posture from desk work, I realized the importance of building a strong, balanced back.
Hitting the Lats with Pull-ups
One of the first back exercises I incorporated was good old fashioned pull-ups. I started with scapular pulls just lifting my shoulders to the bar.
It was humbling but over time I worked my way up to full deadhang pull-ups. I'm still chasing that elusive muscle-up but once I max out strict pull-ups, it'll be time to get explosive!
Activating the Glutes and Posterior Chain
I was initially intimidated by advanced calisthenics skills like the human flag that require incredible glute and posterior strength.
So I started small with glute bridges, hip thrusts and back extensions on the floor. Wasn't long before I worked my way up to bodyweight glute ham raises. Talk about feeling the burn!
Discovering the Best Calisthenics Back Exercises
I experimented with all sorts of grip widths and angles with pull-ups and rows before discovering close-grip chin-ups.
The way they light up my lats while building chunky wings on my biceps and forearms is wildly addicting! Paired with feet elevated bodyweight rows I can practically watch my back transform before my eyes after every workout.
Of course I can't forget good mornings, reverse planks and Superman holds for bringing up my lower back strength so I can keep pushing the limits. Calisthenics humbles quickly if you have any weak links!
My Back Routine Evolution
These days my calisthenics back workouts start with skin-the-cats to get my scapulas firing. Then I move to front lever raises paired with uneven chin-ups for 3-4 circuits. I finish off with single leg hip thrusts and weighted back extensions for some serious glute burn!
It's taken a lot of trial and error adjusting angles and grips over time to really feel that mind-muscle connection. But the investment has paid dividends towards improving my posture and preventing injuries in other lifts.
Can't wait to see what the next evolution looks like on my continual journey towards building the complete calisthenics back! Just remember to put in the work and the results will come. Much love fam!
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