Build A Strong Back Without a Gym

Christopher McMahon

NCSF CPT, CPR-AED, CAFS, FRCms, ViPR Pro

Verona, New Jersey, United States

Fitness coach, Movement Specialist, Nutrition Coach

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My first introduction to strength training was my sophomore year of college. Every day after my last class, I would make my way to the gym and get ready to let off steam. Going to the gym became a part of my daily routine - a routine I still follow, granted there are fewer bicep curls.

 

Now things are different, and most, if not all, gyms are closed for the time being. So, what do you do? Well, thanks to social media, there are endless options for #athomeworkouts from talented trainers.

 

 

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

 

You don't need a fancy facility or equipment to build incredible strength. Since you may not have access to a pull-up bar or dumbbells, I wanted to share a few of my favorite bodyweight exercises for developing a strong posterior chain.

 

 

Rocking Cues

  • Initiate the movement through the shoulder blades.

  • Keep arms locked out and push through the arms the entire time.

  • Place something soft under your knees to help with any discomfort.

 

Elevated Rocking Cues

  • Elevate the knees.

  • Initiate the movement through the shoulder blades.

  • Keep arms locked out and push through.

  • Move with control the entire time.

 

Baby Crawl Cues

  • Move with contralateral movement. (Right arm moves with left leg.)

  • Look straight forward, maintaining a long spine.

  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades

 

Leopard Crawl Cues

  • Elevate the knees

  • Move with contralateral movement. (Right arm moves with left leg.)

  • Look straight forward and avoid rounding the lower back.

  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades

 

Hollow Crawl Cues

  • Push away from the ground and tuck your tailbone, while keeping the focus on depressing the shoulders.

  • Move with contralateral movement (the right arm moves with the left leg).

  • Initiate movement through the shoulder blades

  • For an added challenge, attempt to balance with two limbs off the ground

 

 

Forearm Plank Cues

  • Place forearms on the ground with shoulders stacked over elbows.

  • Engage your glutes by squeezing the legs together.

  • Push away from the ground while pulling your shoulder blades into your back pocket.

 

Seesaw Cues

  • Place a slider or towel under your feet.

  • Place forearms on the ground with shoulders stacked over elbows.

  • Engage your glutes by squeezing the legs together.

  • Push away from the ground while pulling your shoulder blades into your back pocket.

 

Windshield-Wiper Cues

  • Keep shoulder blades in contact with the ground the entire time.

  • Squeeze ankles and knees together through your full range of motion.

  • As your lower body moves to the right, flip your right palm up. Repeat going to the left.

 

Tabletop Rock Cues

  • Push through the arms and lift your chest.

  • Drive the hips up toward the ceiling.

  • Push through the arms to shift your weight forward.

  • Pull the shoulder blades down to return to your starting position.

 

3-Point Bridge Cues

  • Push through the arms and lift your chest.

  • Drive the hips up toward the ceiling.

  • Bend one arm and glue it to your ribs.

  • Shift your weight back over the supporting arm.

  • If you feel stable, feel free to extend the bent arm over your head.

 

Bridge Pushup Cues

  • Keep feet hip-width apart.

  • As you push into the bridge, focus on relaxing the glutes and engaging the quadriceps.

  • Push through the arms and lift the chest.

  • As you push through the quadriceps, shift your weight back into the arms.

 

Sets and Repetitions

You can alter any of these exercises to fit your training needs. I am a big fan of following timed sets instead of aiming for a certain number of repetitions. Timed work allows me to focus on the quality of each movement while keeping each session short and sweet.

 

Sample Session

Prep: 5 Minutes

 

 

Practice: 5 Minutes

 

Leopard Crawl

  • Practice moving with control and take as many breaks as you need to during the 5 minutes.
  • Focus on quality of movement over quantity.

 

Push: 30 seconds per exercise with 30 seconds rest after the exercise

 

Goal: 5 Rounds

 

 

Ponder: How'd your session go? Were there any movements that challenged you? What is one positive take away from your training session today?

 

Give any of these movements a try in your next workout and reap the benefits of a strong back.

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