Calisthenics isn’t a fad or trend. In fact, if you know someone who is incredibly fit and toned, they likely got there with some help from calisthenics.
Muscular backs are coveted by both women and men alike. This is why you’ll see so many gym-goers adding so much weight to LAT pulldown machines or doing a hundred variations and reps of rows. Adding all of that weight is their way of trying to tone their back.
Then again, it doesn’t always have to be that way. A great calisthenics back workout will have your back looking toned, ripped, and muscular in no time.
Why Do a Bodyweight Back Workout?
So, you likely have a gym membership, whether you use it every day or once a year. That gym is probably stocked full of dumbbells, various machines, and plenty of heavy plates. Why would you ever choose to use your body weight as resistance instead of all that you have at your disposal?
There are actually plenty of reasons to use calisthenics to get your back nice and toned, such as the following:
- It puts way less pressure on your joints.
- You can do the workout anywhere, even outside the gym.
- You need very little equipment. In fact, a simple pull-up bar is enough.
- You don’t need to be supervised because the exercises are simple. No “spotters” are needed.
- Calisthenics back workout exercises are all compound movements. This means that you are working out a number of muscle groups at the same time.
Calisthenics Back Workout: A Complete Guide
Now that you know why you should be doing calisthenics, we will highlight a calisthenics back workout for you. For each of these, we discuss how to do the exercise, the variations available, and the equipment you might need, if any.
1. Reverse Push-Up
These push-ups put more of an emphasis on your back. There are plenty of variations of this exercise available. We will highlight a couple of these variations, and you can choose one that feels the best to you.
Over time, you can switch things up during your calisthenics back workout and do different reverse push-ups. You only need equipment for one of these variations; the elevated reverse push-up requires two elevated platforms.
- Elevated Reverse Push-Up
Find an elevated platform of some kind. If you are working out at home, a set of kitchen chairs will do. The goal is to be suspended in the air.
Then, simply lower your upper body and raise it back up again. As you do so, make sure you are contracting your back when you reach the top of every movement.
- Scapula Push-Up
To do this variation, simply get into your regular push-up position. Then, you want to shrug your body down, but you do not want to bend your arms.
This variation can be scaled for beginners. You can simply do the scapula push-up while on your knees.
- Hindu Push-Up
Begin by getting into the downward-dog position. Then, dip your head to the ground and raise it so that your chest gets as close to the ground as possible.
After that, go in the reverse of that movement to get yourself back down to downward-dog. This is considered one repetition.
2. Bird Dog
You do not need any equipment to complete the Bird Dog successfully. Simply get down on your hands and knees, maintain a back that is parallel to the floor and flat, and raise your left arm and your right leg at the same time.
When doing this, you want to keep your foot with the toes pointing down so that foot stays flexed. After that, get back to all fours. Do your set number of repetitions and then switch to the left leg and right arm.
To scale this position, you can get a bit more stretch if you twist your upper body after you’ve raised your arm and leg. To make it a more advanced move, you can also lift the arm and leg of the same side. When you raise your right leg, you also raise your right arm.
Finally, you can also make the exercise more advanced by holding the position at the top for a certain period. Remember to do this while keeping your core engaged.
3. Reverse Snow Angel
You don’t need any equipment at all to do this upper-back exercise. To do a reverse snow angel, start by laying on the floor face down. Keep your arms up by your head, and move your arms out and back toward your hips.
Then, move your arms back toward a position where they are pointing forward. Envision yourself making a snow angel, but this time, you are doing it face-down. You are basically just making an angel upside-down and in reverse.
This exercise targets both your inner lower back and your traps, with a primary focus on your traps. However, as we said earlier, each of these exercises is a compound movement, which means that you’ll get benefits in more than one muscle group.
4. Wall Walk
This exercise will work out both your traps and your shoulders. For equipment, you’ll need a wall. To start, lay face-down on the floor and place your feet up against the wall. Then, lift your body off the ground by using your feet and hands.
Start to walk up the wall with your feet. At the same time, walk your hands toward the wall. This is hugely effective at toning your shoulders because you are basically placing all of your weight on your shoulders.
If you want to scale this exercise to make it more advanced, you can hold the top movement for a certain time. This is when you are flat right up against the wall. You’ll basically be holding an assisted handstand.
If you want to make it really advanced, you can try out some handstand push-ups, which will give your shoulder muscles an incredible workout.
The chin-up is elusive for many, but if you work at it, you can perform them nicely. It is largely considered the best exercise for building your back using just bodyweight. You’ll need a pull-up bar for this exercise.
To do a chin-up, take hold of your pull-up bar a little short of your shoulder width. You want your palms to be facing you. You’ll be hanging, but you do not want your feet touching anything.
Then, just pull your body straight up. You want your chin to pass directly behind the bar when you get to the top of the movement and then slowly lower yourself back down.
If you need to start off slower, you can begin by doing assisted chin-ups, which you can do with resistance bands placed around your feet and the bar. This will lessen the load for you when pulling up. You can then start doing negative chin-ups, which is starting at the top of the movement and just forcing yourself to come down slowly.
Once you can do those, you can move toward chin-up holds, which is where you hold the top of the movement. All of this should lead you to being able to do a regular chin-up. If you are looking to do a more advanced version of a chin-up, you can do a one-handed variation.
6. Australian Row
This is also called an inverted row. For this exercise, you need a horizontal bar, which should be able to be suspended above the floor. For this, you can use almost anything that you can easily hold at shoulder width.
To begin, lay face-up on the floor with your bar. You want to hold the bar at shoulder width. Suspend your body in the air, keeping only the heels of your feet on the floor. Then, lift your body by pulling it in toward the bar. Flex your back and bend your elbows in order to do that. Then, just lower yourself back down slowly.
If you want to make this more challenging, you can elevate your feet. If you want to make it a lot more advanced, you can try doing it with just one hand. That is a very challenging move to do, but with time, you can progress toward being able to do it.
Many gym-goers think that you absolutely need to add more and more weight to a machine to get a ripped and toned back. This just isn’t the case all the time.
If you are looking to tone up your back and improve your overall physique, calisthenics will help you do that. The best part is, you rarely need equipment, and you can perform the moves almost anywhere. You do not need to keep adding unnecessary weight to your exercises.
Calisthenics allows you to fit working out into the busiest of schedules. Do these calisthenics back workout exercises whenever you have free time. You can even take your workouts outdoors for some fresh air. If you stick with it, you’ll absolutely start to see results in nearly no time at all.