Skip To Main Content

Every product is carefully selected by our editors and experts. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission. Learn more. For more information on how we test products, click here.

Back of a man doing pullups

How to Build a Strong Back Without Lifting a Weight

When it comes to building muscle, you don’t need to lift weights! You can build some serious strength and lean muscle without stepping foot in a gym. For over 3 years I haven’t stepped foot in a gym and my back is stronger than ever! Not only stronger visibly, but more importunately, from within. The lower back is one of the most prone to injuries places of the body and I have had my share of serious injuries and flare-ups in that region. Not since quitting the gym has my back and specifically lower back ever felt better, stronger, more flexible and as a result, I haven’t had a flare-up for the past 3 years!

So how can you strengthen your back without lifting weights? Here are a few key exercises to do.

1. Pull-ups

Let’s start with the hardest move. Keep in mind you can always use a resistance band to assist in your pull-ups. Obviously, you need a bar of some sort, whether this is at home above the doorway or even the local playground using the monkey bars, anything sturdy enough to hang from, you have yourself a pull-up bar! Play around with hand position, don’t get too comfortable using the same width for hand placement. Your hand placement plays a major roll in putting more load on certain areas of the back. Challenge yourself and go wide, really wide and even super close to the point your hands touch each other!

2. Australian Pull-ups (Inverted pull-ups)

This one is a great alternative to build-up to the high bar for the full dead hang pull up but also a great exercise to hit different areas of your back. Unlike regular pull-ups where you are hanging directly under the bar, Inverted pull-ups or “Australian pull-ups” as they are also commonly referred to have you underneath a lower bar (think stomach height) with your body on an angle and heels on the ground. Again, hand placement is key, play around with that and feel the different areas of your back working!

Now that we have covered two of the best moves for middle to upper back, let’s focus on the lower back, which is key to almost every movement you make with any part of your body… Don’t believe me, try slipping a disc in your lower back, then you’ll know how debilitating it is on your entire body and movement!

Want to take your fitness to the next level? Check out all our medically reviewed fitness guides and workout plans

3. Back extensions

A great exercise to target the lower back and glutes which are often overlooked in back health. For this one, you don’t even need a bar. This is a zero-equipment exercise that should be done in a slow and controlled movement. At the top of the movement with your chest and thighs off the ground (that’s the aim) squeeze and pause for a split second.

4. Cranes (Bodyweight deadlift)

This exercise does require some balance, but it brings the hips, hamstrings and glutes into play, all while working the lower back. Another exercise not to be rushed through, slow and controlled is the way!

If you would like to have a structured workout plan, know exactly what to do to achieve your body and fitness goals then check out my online coaching options available at BODYWEIGHT BUILT and find me on Instagram @mattycfox

Matt Fox is a former professional tennis player and cancer survivor, turned elite coach, PT, Active Escapes Trainer, Husband and Father. Matt has an online training business called Bodyweight Built which provides options for both men and women.

General FAQ

How can I strengthen my back without weights?

4 great exercises to strengethen your back without weights are Pull Ups, Australian Pull Ups (Inverted Pull-Ups), Back Extensions, and Cranes (Bodyweight Deadlifts)

What exercise gets rid of back fat?

Some exercises to strengthen your back and get rid of back fat are plank, bridge, superman, pushups, and limb raises.