Having strong upper back muscles is imperative to performing well and preventing injury during sports, especially upper-body-dominant activities like racquet sports, golf and swimming. Daily life tasks, such as carrying heavy groceries, also depend on a strong back. You can easily work on back muscles at home with these exercises.
Make reverse snow angels.
This exercise involves reaching your arms out wide, just like when you were a kid in the snow. The arms can move through the full range of the “angel wings,” from overhead to beside the hips for a full trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and spinal erector exercise. Hold some weight to increase resistance once you have mastered keeping the torso and arms slightly lifted off the floor, shoulders pulled back.
- Lie facedown on the ground, or a mat. Put your hands to your side with palms facing down.
- Slowly bring your arms forward at the shoulder until you reach past your head and your thumbs touch.
- Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position. Make sure your arms are straight and elbows are locked for the entire movement.
- Do three sets of five reps. Make sure to rest for about 30 – 60 seconds between sets.
- If you are a beginner, and not comfortable bringing your arms all the way around, you can work to get them even with your shoulders. Eventually you should be able to build up the strength to reach over the head.
Do hip hinges.
These are simple exercises that involve bending forward at the hips. You’ll be able to work your spinal erectors (as well as your glutes, hamstrings, and hips) as you perform a very simple maneuver.
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Put your hands on your hips.
- Pull your shoulders back slightly to tighten your back muscles.
- Slowly bend forward at the waist. Make sure your shoulders keep in line with your hips as you go forward.
- Bend forward until you are parallel to the ground, then slowly pull back up.
- Keep the movement slow and keep the abdominal muscles contracted.
- Start with one set to be sure this exercise agrees with your back. Gradually increase up to three sets of 10 – 15 reps. Give yourself 30 – 60 seconds of rest between sets.
- You can also do these exercises while sitting. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet planted on the ground directly below your knees. Put your hands on your hips. Pull your shoulders back slightly to contract the muscles, then bend forward to a 45 degree angle.
- When you do this, be careful not to bend your back. This will not only prevent you from really working your back muscles, but there is also a chance you will hurt your spine.
This is a beginner yoga position that works the mid to lower back and increases flexibility.
- Lie facedown on the floor. Stretch your legs straight out behind you with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bring your arms into your body, elbows bent and hands under your shoulders.
- Contract the muscles in your back to lift body upward, using your hands to assist with the positioning. Press your feet, legs, and thighs against the ground. Inhale as you lift upward.
- Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing normally.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the ground, exhaling as you do.
- Do around 10 reps. Like any exercise, try to push yourself to hold for a few more seconds each time you do it. You don’t need to do this every day, but it is one you can do several times a week.
This is a common exercise that involves pulling yourself upward using a fixed bar. This particular exercise will help you a lot to work on your back muscles at home. It is one of the simplest and best exercises out there for working your lats. It does require a pull-up bar, which you can permanently install in a doorway, or buy a door-hanging bar that you can easily hang and remove when you’re done.
- Wrap your hands over the top of the bar, slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Hang for a moment with your arms straight. Arch your back and pull yourself up so that your chin clears the bar. Pause at the top of chin-ups to sustain muscle contraction. Return to the start position and repeat.
- Don’t swing during this exercise. The temptation is to help yourself up using momentum, but this lessens the effect of the exercise on your lats.
Do some wall slides.
These are simple exercises that you can do using only a wall. They are also really good for preventing or relieving back pain you may experience while working. It’ll work on your back muscles and hamstrings and also helps to maintain good posture and you can do these at home easily.
- Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder distance apart and heels one stride length away from the wall.
- Slide down into a crouch, getting so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold that position for five seconds.
- Slowly slide back up the wall until you are straight again, then repeat five times.