If there’s one thing I think most home workouts miss, it’s a good back routine, especially if you don’t have any kind of weight equipment.
Where I most commonly see neglect for back movements are in body-weight workouts, such as this one I really like from the New York Times, the 7-Minute Workout that is great as a full-body warmup or an “off-day” workout to get the blood moving. It’s like interval training, but with resistance. Anyway — as good as it is, it has nothing for a pulling movement.
Having a gym at home means you can get back work in, and it’s also why I insisted on buying a squat rack with a pull-up bar installed. Upper-body balance is important to me, as I’d like to avoid injury and prefer some symmetry, aesthetically speaking. Plus a strong back is the beginning of a strong posterior chain, which opens whole new doors toward athletic function. But that’s a different story.
Anyway, right now I’m in the middle of a workout plan where I try to hit legs fairly heavy (for me) every day, and then mix in other muscle groups on a daily split. My back split today is below — let me know if you give this one a try, or if you have any good back workouts you think I should work in to my own plans. (I like to mix things up, so hit me!)
Posterior Chain/Pull Workout
Romanian Deadlifts (deficit)
3 sets of 10, on a platform. Typically I alternate my heavy deadlift days and something with more of a stretch/lower back, for reps, later in the week, and that was the case today. I like the platform-created deficit for a bit more range of motion and to engage the lower back muscles.
3-4 sets of max reps. I’m weak on pull-ups — I’m still trying to get to a consistent point with them, but in the meantime, I’m working in max sets. Eventually the hope is to get up to a point where I can start weighing them down, but for now, my body weight (200 pounds) is enough for what I can do.
My favorite back lifts at the gym were seated cable rows and T-bars rows. Of course, minus a gym, I don’t have either of those pieces of equipment! That’s where this nifty piece of equipment, the landmine, comes in handy. It attaches to the rack and secures the bar, and has 180-degree swivel rotation on two planes. I use the neutral-grip attachment under the collar and it’s a great movement to go heavy with.
3×10 (or max). This is where I put the barbell back on the squat rack, lie on the ground facing the ceiling, and row myself up with an overhand grip. I like these as a back finisher, because it’s easy to know when you’ve reached absolute failure — you won’t move an inch!
Three tri-sets, with 8 reps each of: hanging leg raises, weighted crunches, 30-seconds of planks. I bought a pair of elbow supports (you can see one in the left side of the pic below) that hang from the bar, since I’m tall with long arms. This keeps my feet from dragging the ground on the leg raises.
I’d love to hear what exercises and movements you go for to work your back — I might even share it here on my blog!