Exercises Without Push-Ups to Strengthen Your Back

If you're looking for the best exercises to tone the muscles of your back, here you'll find the solution. We present five alternatives to push-ups that will definitely work for you.
Exercises Without Push-Ups to Strengthen Your Back

Last update: 13 April, 2019

It’s important that you strengthen your back. In this article, you’ll learn about exercises other than push-ups to achieve a strong and toned back.

Push-ups are the exercise that dominates in back training, especially in CrossFit and calisthenics. However, there are many functional exercises that work the muscles on your back and have nothing to do with push-ups.

Exercises to strengthen your back

Working out your back is great for the rest of your body, because it improves your posture, stylizes your shoulders and opens your chest. Besides, you optimize the control over your body and develop a good sports performance.

Many factors influence having a strong back, such as the postures you do during the day, your diet and the types of exercises you do. As we’ve said before, although push-ups are a really complete exercise, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to try the following exercises to strengthen your back.

1. Back extension on the floor

This exercise, also known as “Superman”, burns fat, strengthens and gives flexibility to your back. You don’t need any equipment. To do it, follow these steps:

  • Lie face down, preferably on a mat.
  • Extend your arms to the front and stretch your legs as much as you can.
  • Now, raise your arms and legs at the same time as far as you can. Create tension and focus your energy on your back.
  • Hold that position for eight seconds. Then, rest four seconds and repeat until you reach 40 seconds.
Man doing back extensions on the floor

2. Rowing machine

At first sight, the rowing machine seems to work your arms. But, it turns out that it’s a machine that works your legs, arms, abs, shoulders, and back! It also develops your coordination and works as a cardio exercise. Using it’s really easy:

  • Sit on the machine with your legs flexed and your hands holding the handles.
  • Pull from the handles as you push yourself back with your legs.
  • While you do this, make sure your back is straight and don’t make the effort with your hands. Distribute it in all the extremities you’re using.
  • Return to the starting position and do 3 series of 15 repetitions.
Women using rowing machines at the gym

3. Dumbbell deadlift

The dumbbell deadlift is a great exercise for your core, back and legs. But you must be very careful when you do it because a wrong execution could really hurt your lumbar area.

  • Stand firmly with a dumbbell in each hand; your palms must be facing your body.
  • Flex your knees as you take your hips to the back. Put the dumbbells at the height of your thighs.
  • Keep going down until the dumbbells are under your knees. To do so, you need to slightly tilt your back forward. Your spine must be straight and your abs squeezed in.
  • The dumbbells shouldn’t touch the floor. If you lower yourself too much, you can hurt your lower back. Take them under your knees, not any further.
  • Do a pause and then return to the starting position slowly.
  • Do 4 series of 15 repetitions.
Woman doing dumbbell deadlifts to strenghten her back

4. Reverse snow angels

The movements you make for creating angel shapes in the snow can be used as an exercise to strengthen your back too! The only changes are that you don’t need to use snow and instead of facing up, you do it facing down.

Therefore, lie facing down, lift your head, arms and legs from the floor and make the moves to create snow angels.

5. Dumbbell lateral raise

The lateral raises with dumbbells will help you to strengthen your back, tone your arms, define your shoulders and chest. To do it, follow these steps:

  • Stand up, with your back straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise your arms, side by side, until they’re aligned with your shoulders.
  • Your palms must be facing down and you must focus the strength on your arms and back to stay balanced.
  • During the short pause, put your arms down.
  • You can do 4 series of 12 repetitions.
Woman doing lateral raises with dumbbells to strengthen her back

Before you practice any of these exercises, you must perform a good warm-up session to prepare your muscles. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the exercises will be less. Also, stay hydrated and enjoy a healthy diet so that your back and the rest of your body can also become stronger in the right way.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arokoski, J. P., Valta, T., Airaksinen, O., & Kankaanpaa, M. (2001). Back and abdominal muscle function during stabilization exercises. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation82(8), 1089–1098. https://doi.org/10.1053/apmr.2001.23819

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.