- Calisthenics Back Workout
- Calisthenics Back Exercises
If you’re looking to strengthen and tone your back without heading to the gym all the time, then you’re in need of a super effective back calisthenics workout!
To help you learn the best calisthenics back exercises in the safest, and most effective way, we’ve created a calisthenics workout for your back that will start you off if you’re a beginner, or inspire you if you’re a seasoned calisthenics pro.
The best part about a good back calisthenics workout is, as we mentioned above, you can do it from home. So you don’t need to worry about lifting weights or paying gym fees, instead you can do a truly challenging workout without stepping foot outside.
Plus, in addition to no weights, we’ve also got some amazing calisthenics exercises for back, that don’t require any equipment. So, if you’re just starting out, there’s no need to invest in pricey bits of kit yet!
It’s just a case of learning the movements and making sure you do them in the most effective way possible.
Calisthenics Back Workout
|Scapula Push ups||3||10|
|Rear Delt Fly||3||8|
|Sheet Face Pulls||3||10|
- Top tip 1: if you don’t have rings for the rows, you can use a sheet as we’ve described below
- Top tip 2: As you progress, it might be worth investign in a good pull up bar you can use at home, as it would be a challenging addition to this workout once you’ve got a few no equipment movements under your belt! Check out our top picks of the best calisthenics equipment for at home workouts right here.
Now you’ve seen what our top back calisthenics workout looks like, you need to check out the exercises! We’ve written up the movements in this workout, plus a few more on top, to help you perform the workout in the safest, most effective way possible.
It’s worth noting that, while these movements are all bodyweight and don’t require weights or the need to go to the gym, some of them do require equipment.
Don’t panic though! You can still do these workouts from home.
For example, a pull up bar can be fitted for relatively little money across a door frame, and you can easily purchase some gymnastic rings that are specifically designed to go over a door.
A lot of these movements are also floor based, so it might be a good idea to invest in a yoga mat for a more comfortable workout
Related Article: Calisthenics Beginner Workout Guide
Calisthenics Back Exercises
It might look innocuous, but the superman is a fantastic exercise that provides a great workout and activation to the whole of the posterior chain! You’ll feel this from your glutes all the way to the top of the back, so don’t miss it out of your workouts.
- Lie prone (on your front) on your mat with your hands out in front of you, thumbs up towards the ceiling
- Squeeze your glutes and tense your core as you arch your upper back so your arms and upper body are off the floor, whilst also lifting both legs
- Ensure your knees are locked out and straight in this position
- Whilst holding this position you should feel muscles working hard all the way down your back (feel like a flying superman yet?!). Hold for 5 seconds.
- From here, gently bring your legs, upper body and hands back down to the mat. Repeat
Similar to the superman hold above, the IYT offers up a little extra spice that helps you to recruit more muscles into the movement and work your back harder. It’s one of the few calisthenics back exercises that also pulls in the lower traps.
A must for any calisthenics workout for back! Build up from the superman to this, and you’ll soon be able to elevate your back strength.
- Lie prone with your arms directly out in front of you, thumbs up and facing the ceiling
- From here, squeeze the glutes and tense the core, lifting your arms and upper body off the floor, activating those whole posterior chain
- Hold this position for two seconds
- Move your arms outwards into a Y shape, maintaining that strong back position
- After another count of two, keep your back in position and move the arms out to the sides into a T shape
- Return to the start position and lower your upper body back to the floor to rest, before starting again
[Related Article: Best Shoulder Workout for Women]
Bodyweight rear delt fly
Let’s take a look at those posterior delts! When you think rear delt fly, you often imagine a couple of dumbbells in hand, but no need! With a bit of reimagining, this is a great addition to any back calisthenics workout.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your arms out on either side of you in a T shape.
- Create a fist with your hands, with thumbs facing up to the sky
- From here, push your fists hard into the ground, so you raise your upper body off the floor
- Hold for a count of two before returning your upper body back down to the ground
Scapula push ups
The middle of the upper back comes under the spotlight in this calisthenics back exercise. It might look like a quarter of a push up, but it offers big muscle building and posterior chain supporting benefits! Check it out.
- Begin at the top of a push up, on your hands and feet, with hands positioned below your shoulders
- From this relaxed position, retract, or pull your scapulas together, which should slightly lower your body a couple of inches. Keep the core and glutes tight throughout
- Make sure you feel that tension in the upper back between the scaps, before pulling the scapes apart, until you’ve moved ‘up’ as far as you can. Do not bend the elbows at all in this movement.
- Your back might be rounded at the top of this movement, but that’s completely normal.
- Repeat the movement
Another great way to pull the upper back and lower traps into your back calisthenics workout, is to try a scapula wall slide. Again, it might not look like loads of work, but you’ll feel this in your muscles almost straight away!
- Stand with your back against a wall
- Hold your hands in line with your shoulders, so your arms are touching the wall from elbow to the back of your hands.
- From here, slowly raise your arms upwards, keeping your arms and your back in contact with the wall
- Go as high as you can without breaking contact with the wall. When you feel yourself moving away, lower your arms back to the starting position again.
Door frame bodyweight rows
Rows are a fantastic way to get all those pulling muscles working hard. And, what’s more, you don’t need weights or rings if you don’t have them. Just a door frame in your home is needed for an effective wall pull.
- Stand facing the side of your door frame, with a hand either side of the frame.
- Place your feet as close to the door frame as you can amd make sure you’re barefoot or wearing grippy shoes! Your chest should be touching the frame
- Grip on to either side of the frame with your hands and carefully lean back, extending the arms until they’re straight
- From this position, pull your body back to the frame, until your chest is touching the frame again.
- Begin the rep again.
Related Article: Calisthenics Chest Workout – 9 Exercises You Must Try!
Now, all the movements above are completely without equipment. And, as we know calisthenics is focussed entirely on bodyweight movements, however, if you want to take your calisthenics workout for back up to the next level, it might be worth investing in a few bits of equipment. They’re not often costly, but can really transform a workout.
You might not think it, but you can do pull ups at home! Check out this doorway pull up bar which you can easily fit and remove at home.
- Stand below the bar and place your hands at about shoulder width apart, gripping tightly onto the bar
- Pull your scapulas together and your lats down to create tension on the bar
- Pull your body up until you chin is over the bar
- Gently lower yourself down
If you are looking for a reliable pull up bar you can use at home, then we recommend this over door bar, which can easily be fitted and removed when you need. We found it to be sturdy and a game changer to have on hand for a back calisthenics workout.
We also found it cost efficient, as it comes with handles which we used for rings rows and face pulls.
We’ve talked about door frame rows above, but if you feel like you’ve graduated from this movement and want to try something harder, then it might be time to invest in some rings that you can use at home.
We recommend these rings. They’re quite reasonably priced, but we found they’re sturdy and reliable, and can be attached to a door with ease.
- Begin with your feet under the rings with the height adjusted so the rings hang at about elbow height
- Hold on to the rings and slowly and carefully lean back until you’re holding your weight with your heels still under the rings and your arms straight
- From here, squeeze your scapulas together and pull your body up until the rings are at your armpits. Keep your core and glutes tight throughout so you don’t dip your hips during this movement
- Slowly straighten your arms to return to the start position. If this is too challenging, to start with, try stepping back slightly until you can comfortably complete the movement
Don’t have any rings? Don’t sweat it! You can use sheet rows as a variation on this to do the movement in exactly the same way as a ring row, but with one of your bed sheets.
Simply tie a knot in the middle, feed it through the top of a door and close the door with the knot on one side and your ‘rings’ on the other. From here, simply follow the instructions above!
Sheet face pulls
With the sheets, you can also do face pulls to work out those posterior delts. Follow these simple steps!
- Stand about a foot away from the door, with one end of the sheet in either hand
- Lean back and take the weight of your body on the sheet, with straight arms
- Keeping the core tight, pull your body forward by keeping the elbows high as if you were pulling the sheet to your face
- Your hands should be around forehead height by the time you get to the top of this movement
- From there, slowly straighten your arms and return to the start position
What back muscles will a back calisthenics workout strengthen?
This back calisthenics workout takes into account a range of different bodyweight movements that will help you to develop strength and muscle in your back.
With such a large area, and large muscles, it can be difficult to achieve a really effective back workout, even when you include barbells and dumbbells!
So, it’s important to know what muscles your calisthenic back exercises will be targeting when you start to think about doing your workouts, or when you move on to creating your own workouts too.
Let’s take a closer look at the four main muscle groups these calisthenic back exercises will impact:
Found between your scapulas, these muscles are responsible for pulling your shoulder blades (scapulas) together. So when we’re thinking about exercises, you’ll find that rows, pull ups, scapula press ups and pretty much anything that focusses on the upper back will pull in the rhomboids.
Latissimus Dorsi (Commonly known as the lats)
These muscles are found at the sides of the back, and look kind of like wings, giving your back that hourglass shape from the top to the waist. When it comes to exercises that work the lats, you should be thinking about movements that pull something down towards you from above, so pull ups are the big focus for this muscle group.
The posterior delts sit right behind your shoulder and can be a tricky one to target, as they are only really recruited when the shoulder is rotated up and outwards. As such, your main movement for this muscle group would be a face pull, which requires a high and outside elbow to complete the movement.
This is another large muscle group, which runs from the upper back to the mid back. What’s a little bit different about the traps, is it’s actually split into three different sections that can be worked in different ways.
- Your upper traps are those muscles you can see from the front, just above the clavicals. These can be worked with shrug movements and rows too
- Just a little lower down, the mid traps can also be worked with pulls and rows, but just make sure you’re pulling toward your lower ribs areas
- The lower traps are a little more difficult to reach, but the superman movement helps to target these, as you move your arms from a relaxed lying position to a tensed raised position