Calisthenics Back Workout (12 Best Exercises)

Calisthenics training is an excellent way to strengthen and tone back muscles and improve flexibility. It requires no special equipment. You can do various calisthenics exercises using your body weight only.

In this article, I’ve shared as many as twelve calisthenics back exercises that will help you enhance strength, mobility, and flexibility and improve your overall posture.

Muscles of the Back and Their Functions

Muscles of the Back

The back is a crucial muscle that is responsible for upper-body musculature and better posture. It comprises many muscles, from the upper to lower back, including latissimus dorsi, trapezius, lumbar spine, and rhomboid.

Latissimus Dorsi

It is the large muscle that runs down each side of your spine. It looks like wings, covers most of your back, and works with other muscles to perform various activities, such as pulling and lifting.

Trapezius

The trapezius is a large muscle that covers the back of your neck and shoulders. It is basically divided into two parts, upper and lower trap. And they are responsible for raising and retracting your shoulders and moving your neck to the sides.

Lumbar Spine

It is a long muscle start that runs down from the neck to the lower back. It supports the upper body and is responsible for a better posture.

Teres Major and Minor

These are small muscles that add strength and definition to your back muscles.

6 Best Calisthenics Back Exercises (with Bar)

1. Pull-ups

A man doing pullups, a Calisthenics back exercise
LevelTypeGoal
IntermediateCompoundStrength and Muscle Building

The pull-up is a compound workout that works on multiple muscles at once, particularly the back and biceps. It can require you to pull your entire body upward until your chest is close to the bar.

Pullups can be challenging for beginners but help you build a sturdy and wider back.

Steps to do it:

  1. Hang onto a pullup bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your hands will be over the bar.
  2. Contracting your back muscles, pull yourself up until your chin crosses the bar.
  3. Once your back is fully engaged, lower yourself down until your arms are straight. That’s one rep.

Note: Avoid jerking and excess movement during the exercise.

Recommended sets and reps: As many reps as possible (AMRAP) x 3

2. Dead Hang

LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsometricBuild Strength and Muscle Endurance

Dead hang is an isometric exercise that activates the back, shoulders, arms, and core muscles.

It provides a good stretch to your lats, improves grip strength, and helps you scale up for your first pullup.

How to perform: To do dead hang, grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands four to six inches wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight, lats engaged, and head in the neutral position, and hang as long as you can.

Note: Keeping arms bent and not engaging lats can make this exercise least effective. So it’s best to focus on lats engagement throughout the movement.

Recommended sets and reps: As long as you can hold for three times.

3. Inverted Row

Inverted Row
Inverted Row
LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerCompoundBuild Muscle and Strength

The inverted row strengthens the upper body, especially the back. It is suitable for beginners, so including it in your callisthenic back workout can be efficient for developing your back.

Steps to do it:

  1. Set the barbell at your waist height so you can extend your arms fully while keeping your body off the floor.
  2. Lie on the floor on your back underneath the bar.
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and arms fully straight.
  4. Your body will be a few inches off the floor, heels on the ground, and toes facing upward. That’s your starting position.
  5. Keeping your core tight, pull yourself toward the bar until your chest touches it.
  6. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds and lower the body to the start.
  7. That’s one rep. Repeat for the maximum number of times.

Keep your body straight from top to bottom during the entire movement. And perform each rep slowly and in a controlled fashion.

Note: Keep your core tight and your head in a neutral spine position throughout the movement.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform as many reps as possible in three sets.

4. Muscle-up

LevelTypeGoal
AdvancedCompoundDevelop Muscle, Strength, Power, and Mobility

The muscle up includes multiple movements, such as pull-ups and dips, making it one of the most difficult calisthenics exercises to perform. It requires decent strength, speed, balance, and a firm grip.

The muscle-up targets various upper body muscles at once, including the back and biceps.

Steps to do it:

Before starting, stand 10 to 15 inches away from the pull-up bar, as it will allow you to generate swinging movement when you grab the bar.

  1. Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip with your hands a couple of inches wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your thumbs on the bar instead of under it and your arms fully extended.
  3. Pull your chest toward the bar until your chin crosses it. And from that position, perform a dip by pressing the bar downward.
  4. Once you complete the dip, return to the starting position and repeat.

Note: This exercise is done at a fast and explosive pace so you can generate swings and perform efficiently.

Recommended sets and reps: Do as many reps as possible x Three sets

5. Tuck Front Lever

LevelTypeGoal
AdvancedCompoundDevelop Muscle, Strength, Power, and Mobility

The tuck front raise is an excellent pulling exercise that bolsters arms, back, and core simultaneously and help you improve balance, strength, muscle coordination, and flexibility.

Steps to do it:

  1. Hang onto the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, and grab the bar with an overhand position with your thumbs under the bar. This is your starting position.
  2. Now, pull yourself up by keeping your arms straight and maintain the Front Lever position until you reach the pike position.
  3. Keep your body as straight as possible during the movement.

Note: Perform each rep in a slow and controlled manner.

Recommended sets and reps: As many reps as possible x 3

6. Chinups

A man doing Chinup
LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerCompoundBuild Muscle and Strength

Chin-up is comparatively easier than pullup and great for developing strength in upper body muscles, particularly the back and biceps.

It engages lats and traps and improves the definition of your back musculature.

Steps to do it:

  1. Hang onto a pullup bar with your hands shorter than shoulder-width apart. Your hands will be under the bar.
  2. Pull yourself up until your chin is close to the bar.
  3. Hold there for a couple of seconds at the top and then return to the starting position.

Note: Your abdominal muscle should be tight throughout the move.

Recommended sets and reps: Repeat until failure x 3

Calisthenics Back Workouts to Build Mobility at Home (No Bar)

7. Lying IYT Raises

LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerCompoundIncrease flexibility and posture

The lying IYT raise is one of the best exercises you can do to train your back muscles without equipment. It works on traps, lats, rhomboids, and lower back and helps improve stability and posture.

Steps to do it:

  1. Lie prone on the floor with your arms straight in front of you.
  2. Lift your chest a couple of inches off the floor.
  3. Raise your arms as high as possible in front of you, so you feel the contraction in your back. Keep your arms high for a couple of seconds, and then lower them on the ground. That’s the “I” raise.
  4. For the “Y” raise, lift your arms off the floor in the letter “Y” shape. Pause for a second or two, and then lower your arms in the Y shape.
  5. Now, bring your arms out to the sides, so your body forms a “T” shape. And to do T raise, lift your arms off the ground as high as possible so you can feel the contraction in your traps. And after one to two seconds pause, return your arms to the floor.
  6. To add resistance, you can use light dumbbells.

Note: Brace your glutes and thigh and keep your head in a neutral position during the entire movement.

Recommended sets and reps: Try to perform as many reps as possible in three to four sets.

8. Superman Pull

A man doing Superman Pull, a calisthenics lower back exercise
LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsolationImprove mobility and flexibility

It is crucial to train your entire back muscles from top to bottom to achieve a healthy back.

You’ve seen many middle and upper back exercises above in this article, but to train your lower back, you need exercises like a superman pull.

Superman pull works out the lats and lower back simultaneously and help build a sturdy back at home without a pullup bar.

Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Lie prone on the floor with your arms straight in front of you.
  2. Lift your chest a few inches off the floor with your eyes looking forward.
  3. Raise your arms up and pull them toward your chest until you feel the contraction in your back.
  4. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds, and then return your arms to the start. That’s one repetition.

Note: Make sure to squeeze and engage your back muscles in each rep.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform three sets of 15 reps each.

9. Bird Dog

Bird Dog Plank
Bird Dog Plank
LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsometricImprove mobility, strength, and flexibility

The bird dog is an isometric exercise for the back, and it can also be a part of your calisthenics workouts.

It strengthens your abdominal muscles and lower back and improves stability and balance.

Steps to do it:

  1. Get on all fours with your arms straight underneath your shoulders.
  2. Keep your back straight, core tight, and face downward. This is your starting position.
  3. Raise your left arm in front of you and kick your right leg behind you until they are parallel to the floor.
  4. Hold in the position for five to 10 seconds and return to the start.
  5. Switch to another side and repeat.

Note: Keep your abdominal muscles tight and maintain a flat back.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform eight to ten reps.

10. Locust Pose

Locust Pose for Lower Back
LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsometricImprove mobility and flexibility

The locust pose is another excellent exercise for strengthening the lower back muscle and increasing flexibility, balance, and stability. It is easy to perform, so people of all fitness levels can do this.

Steps to do it:

  1. Lying prone on the floor, bring your arms at your sides and keep them straight, close to your body.
  2. Slightly lift your chest and feet off the floor and hold in that position for as long as possible.

Note: You’ll feel the contraction in your lower back when you raise your chest and leg.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform three sets, 15 seconds each.

11. Lying Reverse Fly

LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsolationImprove strength, balance, and posture

The lying reverse fly exercise is a low-impact and effective exercise to work on your upper back without putting any load. It also helps improve flexibility in your back and fix poor posture.

Steps to do it:

  • Lying prone on the floor, take your arms out to your sides and keep them straight.
  • Contracting your upper back, lift your arms as high as possible and hold for five seconds before lowering them back on the ground. That is your one rep.

Note: You can keep your head down or look forward, depending on your comfort.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform three sets of 8-10 reps each.

12. Prone Towel Row

LevelTypeGoal
BeginnerIsolationImprove strength, balance, and posture

The lying towel row allows you to train your back muscles at home without putting any stress on the lumbar spine.

It is good for strength and rehabilitation purposes and great for beginners who are starting their calisthenics workout training.

Steps to do it:

  • Grab a towel (hands shoulder-width apart), lie prone on the floor, and keep your arms straight in front of you.
  • Lift your trunk off the floor and pull the towel toward your chest until you feel the contraction in your back muscle.
  • Pause for a moment and then return your arms to the starting position.

Note: You can also use a bedsheet to perform this movement.

Recommended sets and reps: Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

Calisthenics Back Workout Routine

If you train your back muscle individually, you can follow the below routine.

45-minute calisthenics workout routine for back

  1. Lying IYT Raises 10 reps x 3 sets.
  2. Superman Pull: 10 reps x 3 sets
  3. Pull-Ups: 8-12 reps x 4 sets
  4. Inverted Row: 10-15 reps x 4 sets
  5. Muscles Up: 10 reps x 2 sets
  6. Bird Dog: 5 times x 2 sets

If you’re a beginner, you can repeat the first four calisthenics back exercises twice. And if you’re intermediate, you can skip lying IYT and superman pull; instead, you can do Tuck Front Lever Raises and elevated inverted rows.

Related Calisthenics Exercises:

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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