Probably one of the most neglected body parts to train is the back. We want those beautiful caps on rounded shoulders, a bodacious booty, and amazing abs, but what about the back?
The back is important to keep fine-tuned because it ties all of those body parts together and supports a correct posture. Correct posture aids in proper digestion, a positive mental attitude, and overall spinal support. That’s why these resistance band back exercises are a great way to train, especially for beginners.
Even though you can’t see it because it’s behind you, working it out and keeping it strong will give you many strength and health benefits that go beyond aesthetics. Training your upper back muscles with resistance band exercises is a great way to help create an hourglass shape.
Perks of Using Resistance Bands to Train Back
Resistance bands are great for back exercises because they offer a smooth flow of pulling resistance that simply feels good to execute. It’s like when you wake up, yawn, and stretch your arms out or do side bends, then bend over and touch your toes, only with a bit of resistance. The bands are quiet and easy on the joints, yet provide you with enough resistance to actively stretch, tone, or build muscle. No awkward free weights or heavy plates to clang around or risk injuring yourself!
The only risk with the bands, as opposed to free weights, is with pulling them too tight and snapping them in your face or maybe a slight skin pinch. So take care to determine the amount of tension that you put on the bands when feeling them out for what resistance level you are looking for.
Virtually all types of resistance bands can be used for back exercises. Anything that you can grab and pull is going to engage your back muscles. But certain types are better for certain exercises and building muscle mass. Regardless, fitness bands are a great addition to your back workout for any fitness level. If you are working with a personal trainer, ask them about how you can incorporate these into your routine and keep your muscles guessing. They can also help you learn more about how this affects your muscle groups as you train.
Resistance Band Back Exercises You Can Try at Home
Resistance bands are a great way to level up your bodyweight exercises and muscle contraction! Let’s go over my favorite 7 back exercises with resistance bands and the type of band that will give you the best results (and keep your core engaged as a bonus!).
These resistance band back exercises require only your body and the band, so you can do these at home or at the gym. These resistance band workouts are a great starting point for people new to exercises or an addition to a more advanced exercise program.
Single Arm Rows
The single-arm row is a simple resistance band exercise that you can use with any of the bands. The flat, tube, booty and pull-up bands will all work for this movement.
Simply loop a part of the exercise bands around one foot, grab the other end of the band with the same side hand and lunge the other foot back. With your back straight, pull your elbow straight up in the air while creating tension on the band between your foot and hand. Adjust the tension by looping the band more or less around your foot, being careful not to create too much tension where you could possibly break the band.
The beauty of a resistance band workout is that you can add more bands for additional tension or use a different resistance band as needed. Keeping your spine straight and head in a neutral position, exhale on the pulling, shortening (eccentric) muscle movement while inhaling on the lengthening, recovery (concentric) movement.
Perform 3-4 sets with 10-15 reps on each foot, squeezing the back muscles on the top part of the movement on each repetition. I recommend alternating feet, going from one side to the other without rest until sets are complete, using a slow, flowing motion.
This exercise can also be used with any of the bands, but you may need to use extra bands or a heavier resistance band because of the resistance needed to be effective for this movement.
Sit down on the floor with your legs together and straight in front of you. Loop the band around your feet, holding on to the other part of the loop, or the handles with your hands.
Loop the band around your feet as many times as needed to create the right tension, adjusting as you go. You can also spread your feet apart to create more tension, making it more comfortable on the lower back if needed.
Experiment with both ways and use the one most comfortable. Again, be careful not to make the tension too tight to where it could possibly tear the band. Snapping one of these babies back into your face is not anything you want to experience. Trust me.
Sit up tall with your back straight, head forward, and hands on the band or handles. Pull your elbows back towards your body, close to your sides, arching your back, and expanding your chest.
As you feel your back muscles squeeze together, exhale as you pull the band tight and inhale as you slowly release back to starting position. Perform 3-4 sets with 10-12 repetitions each, going a bit faster on the pulling movement, returning to the start position a little slower.
This movement can be done with the flat, tubed with handles or pull-up assist band. Lay about three feet of the middle of the band on the floor, holding onto the other part of the loop or end of the bands or handles with your hands.
Step on the band with your feet shoulder-width apart. The hinge forward with your back straight and head in a neutral position. Here is where you adjust the band to the tension that you need by wrapping it around your wrists or feet or spreading your feet apart, tugging on the bands to adjust resistance.
There are a few different variations to try, so see which one works best for you. With knees slightly bent and upper body still, pull back on the bands, sending your hands up next to your thighs and elbows behind you like you are about to push the wheels forward in a wheelchair. Pull tension tight on the band, squeezing the back muscles together, then releasing back to starting position smoothly.
Exhale on the pull, inhale on the return, adjusting as needed. Another variation uses the tube bands with the handles, crisscrossed over in front of your legs, with the legs a bit wider apart. I feel this variation is best for the least amount of relaxed band from the starting position and a smoother repetition overall with less pressure on the lower back. Try both ways to see which you prefer.
Band Pull Aparts
This is my all-time favorite back band exercise. This is the exercise everyone should do at work that has a desk job. Use one of your desk drawers to keep a band inside to use throughout the day to keep your back stretched and strong.
There are a few different angles or and variations to choose from with hands chest level or higher at head level. You can use the flat, tubed or pull-up assist bands for this one.
Stand straight, holding the band arm’s length away from the front of your body. If you are using the tubed handle bands, hold the handles and loop the band around your wrists to create the amount of tension you want on the bands without is sagging in between your hands.
If using a pull-up assist band, put the band over your head, leaving the sagging band behind you while you hold the front of the band tightly in front of you, about two feet apart. With straight arms extended and palms facing down, separate your hands, opening your arms wide, stretching the band tightly in front of you.
Arch your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and opening the chest, then back to starting position. This is the posture-king of exercises. Exhale on the stretch, inhale on the return. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Single Arm Lat Pulldowns
This exercise should be used with a light to a medium resistance band. Starting with the same body and band and position criteria as the Band Pull Aparts, with the arms and band out in front of you, raise both your hands over your head in a touchdown position, adjusting the tension of the width between your hands as needed. Then pull one hand down to your side, with arm straight in a windshield wiper type motion, exhaling, then inhale and return it to over your head. This is one repetition.
You can do all reps on one side then the other, or alternate left then the right side. Be careful not to pull the band too tight or thin to avoid breaking it. Find your tension carefully before beginning the exercise.
Bent-Over Reverse Fly
This exercise uses a lightweight tubal or flat band. Stand in the same position as the bent-over row, but keep the arms straight on the movement instead of bending them when stretching the band.
Hinge over to about a 75-90 degree angle, and open your arms wide, squeezing the shoulder blades together to maximum comfortable extension, with the arms out like bird wings. Exhaling when the arms are at their maximum range of extension, then inhale on the downward recovery motion.
It is imperative that you use a lightweight band on this exercise so that you do not strain your neck or lower back before you are able to get the full range of motion with the arms opening up. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
I love this movement for overall back strength with minimal stress on the joints while strengthening the lower back, legs, and glutes. Use the flat pull-up assist band for this awesome movement that engages the whole body. Heavy bands or doubled-up bands are best for this movement.
Drop the band on the floor and then step on it with both feet at shoulder-width apart. With your back straight and head forward, squat down with straight arms like you would grab a barbell off the floor, with palms facing in toward your legs, grabbing the bands on the outside of your feet. Adjust the tension here by looping the loose band around your wrists, making it tighter or looser, and situating your feet in a comfortable, strong stance for lifting with heels solid on the ground.
Stand up straight while holding the bands, locking the knees tall and squeezing the glutes tight. You should feel some good resistance with this exercise. I like to squat slowly towards the ground, then lift off with a burst of power on the concentric move a bit faster than the eccentric. Exhale on the lift and inhale on the squat. Perform 4 sets of 10 strong reps on this one.
You can vary these exercises as needed by attaching the bands to a foundation if you do not want to use just your body or try different types and strengths of bands for the same movement.
When using bands, the emphasis should be on your form, flow, and the extension of the exercise. Good posture and working through the entire movement are critical when strength training.
The beautiful thing about band workouts is the pressure that you do NOT feel in your joints. These bands distribute the work evenly and smoothly without the jerking of weights, dumbbells, and kettlebells that can sometimes fatigue the joint before fatiguing the muscles that you are working on. They are an amazing, affordable substitute or alternative to any other type of workout.