Fitness at Home – Body Weight Based Exercise – Back Workout

Health and fitness is on a lot of minds. As boomers get older and Gen X’ers start hitting their thirties they are realizing that unless they do something to take care of themselves physically they aren’t going to be able to do the things that they’ve been taking for granted. Becoming more fit doesn’t have to involve joining a gym or buying a bunch of weights or machines. For the most part you can get a good workout in using only your body weight and things around the house. One exception is back exercises. To get a decent back workout you should purchase a pull up bar that can be mounted in a doorway. If anyone can suggest any exercises to complement the ones I am detailing, please let me know.

Pull-ups are one of the most effective back exercises around. When I did research on back exercises pull-ups were often cited by experts as an integral part of training. Many pieces of equipment at a gym simulate the movement of a pull-up, but have the advantage of using smaller weights, which makes them easier to do. So how can we work around that issue at home?

The easiest solution is to place the pull-up bar at lower positions in your doorway. If you place the bar at chin height you can use your legs to give you whatever assistance you need to do a successful repetition. Use as much or as little leg strength as you desire. As you gain strength over the course of time you may want to either raise or lower the bar. Either one can add to the challenge. Let me explain.

Raising the bar is pretty self explanatory. Once you have the bar at the height where you can just barely reach it, you will be using your entire body weight for the exercise. This is not easy. A fitness entry test for the Coast Guard only requires men to be able to do three pull-ups. (An alternate name for this exercise is the chin up. If you have a double chin, one repetition still only counts once.) Keep that in mind as you are doing your pull-ups. They are a challenge.

To make a less strenuous challenge, lower the bar. If you take the bar down to about the three foot height level you can do what is essentially a inverted push-up. Try to have your back and legs in a rigid straight line and pull yourself up to the bar. To make this easier you can rest your butt on the floor, or sit on an. That takes a percentage of weight off your lift. When you get comfortable with that, raise the bar height. You can gradually raise the height as you get stronger, or you can keep the height low. Don’t push yourself too hard. Slow and steady wins the race.

As an alternative to a pull up bar, you could potentially lay under a table and grip the edge of the table to do a modified floor pull-up. You have to have pretty good hand strength for that, but I like to include alternatives that involve no equipment.

To change up these exercises a bit you can grip the bar in different ways. You can have your palms facing you or facing away. Doing a pull-up with your palms facing you engages your biceps more, facing away engages your back more. You can also have your hands at shoulder width apart, narrower or wider. Do what feels most comfortable for you, but experiment occasionally with different grips.