We all know how important our back is. From walking and running to simply just being able to bend over; we use it for everything we do. So it’s important for us to look after our backs and keep it strong.

Today we will be looking at ways to do this and exercises you can do for you back with minimal or no equipment. But first, we need to know what these muscles are.


Our back muscles are split into three groups; the superficial back muscles, the intermediate back muscles and the intrinsic back muscles.


This group of muscles begin at the vertebral column (spine) and they attach to the bones of your shoulder; the clavicle, scapula and humerus. This means that all of these muscles are used for movements in your upper limbs.

These muscles include the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae and the rhomboids. The trapezius and latissimus dorsi are the most superficial covering the rhomboids and levator scapulae.

Trapezius – The trapezius large, flat, triangular muscle on each side of your upper back which form a trapezoid shape. This muscle is the most superficial of all the back muscles. Responsible for elevating, rotating, retracting and lowering your scapula.
Latissimus Dorsi – This muscle covers a wide area originating from your lower back. Extends, abducts and rotates the upper limb.
Levator Scapulae – A small strap like muscle which begins in the neck and lowers to attach to the scapula. Elevates the scapula.
Rhomboids – There’s two rhomboid muscles; major and minor. Minor rhomboid is situated superiorly to the major. Rhomboid major retracts and rotates the scapula, rhomboid minor also retracts and rotates the scapula.


This group of muscles contains two muscles; the serratus posterior superior and serratus posterior inferior. These muscles go from the vertebral column to the ribcage and they help with elevating and depressing the ribs.

Serratus Posterior Superior – A thin rectangular muscle which lies deep to the rhomboid muscles on the upper back. Elevates ribs 2-5.
Serratus Posterior Inferior – Is broad and strong and lies underneath the Latissimus Dorsi. depresses ribs 9-12


These muscles are deep inside your back and extend from the sacrum to the base of the skull. These muscles assist with the movements of the vertebral column and your posture. These muscles are divided into three layers; superficial, intermediate and deep.

Superficial – two muscles in this group; splenius capitis and splenius cervicis. Associated with the movements for the head and neck.
Intermediate – three muscles in this group; the iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis. They flex and extend the vertebral column.
Deep – three muscles in this group; the semispinalis, multifidus and rotatores. assists in stabilising and movement of the vertebral column and head.

Now that we know the muscles and what they do, it’s time to learn how to strengthen out back using exercises that use no or minimal equipment.


If you have access to any kind of bar or anything you can use, pull ups are an amazing back exercise; one of the best. It strengthens and builds your upper back, shoulders, biceps, forearms and chest.

There are many different grips for a pullup, each one changing slightly which muscles work the hardest. We will use the basic overhand grip for this one.

Grab the bar with an overhand grip so you’re hanging from the bar. Keeping your legs straight (so you don’t use them to swing up) pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar. Lower yourself again until your arms are straight, then repeat.


This exercise strengthens the back and shoulder and is also excellent for counteracting the effects of sitting down for too long.

Lay face down on the floor, making sure your back is flat. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down and lift your arms above your head to make the shape of a Y. Lift your thumbs up and raise your arms and chest off the floor, keeping your arms straight.


This exercise is a yoga move and strengthens the erector spinae muscles.

Lay face down on the ground with your arms down by your side, lift your head and chest a few inches off the floor so everything above your breast bone is off the floor. Hold for a couple of seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat.


Lie face down on the floor with your arms reached out above your head like you’re superman mid-flight. Stretch your legs out with your feet resting on your toes. Lift your upper chest, arms and legs a couple of inches off the ground and for a couple of seconds before releasing and lowering back to the starting position. Then repeat.


Lie face down with your arms stretched out above your head in the shape of a Y, legs stretched out with your feet resting on their toes. With this version of superman you only lift your upper chest and arms into the air, arms stretched out. Hold for a few seconds and then release, lowering back to the starting position. Repeat as required.


Another version of the superman exercise. Lie face down, arms bent and to your side in the shape of a W, legs stretched out with your feet on your toes. Lift your upper chest off the floor, holding your upper body off the ground lift your arms up in the air, then lower your arms while holding your upper chest in the air. Repeat this movement 10 times before lowering your upper chest back onto the floor. That’s one set.


Yet again, another more difficult version of the superman exercise. Lie face down on the floor, arms stretched out in the shape of a Y. Lift your upper chest, arms and shoulders off the ground. Pull your arms back as if you are doing a pullup on a bar, then reach your arms back out to form the shape of the Y again. Holding your upper chest, shoulder and arms off the floor still repeat this movement. Repeat up to 10 times and then lower your body. Repeat for 2-3 sets.

These are some of the best back exercises with no or minimal equipment. Using these exercises will help you strengthen, even build your back and help you keep a good posture.

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