Marcus Filly’s Best Back Training Exercises That Don’t Use Machines


One of the challenges people face when not going to the gym or taking up bodyweight workouts is finding solid exercises to train their back muscles. Many of the best moves for building back mass require you to pull, and once you get beyond the standard pull-ups or rows, you might start to get bored and miss your gym’s floor full of cable machines. standard large-area sports car. But building a bigger back doesn’t require a gym membership or the expensive machines they house, according to trainer Marcus Filly, a former CrossFit Games competitor and proponent of “functional strength training.”

“I think most people associate back exercises with things like the lat pulldown, the seated cable row, the Hammer Strength machine, and other expensive commercial gym equipment,” Filly says.

Rather than skimping on your return day, you should find alternatives. The benefits of incorporating back exercises go beyond bigger muscles. The first is that it will help improve structural balance.

“When we train, we have to counteract all the pushing and forward shoulder postures in our daily lives,” says Filly. “It’s important to think about training the joints evenly, front to back and side to side. If we don’t do this, we can develop overuse injuries, pain, dysfunction, C-force plates and more.”

He notes that if one side of your body becomes overdeveloped, you’ll start to see unwanted aesthetic asymmetries, like shoulders hunched forward from doing too much pressing and not enough pulling. This type of workout will also help you achieve an aesthetic of a wider back and taper towards the waist.

Here are 8 machine-free back workout moves Filly recommends for a better workout.

Exercise 1: Negative Weighted Lean Away Pullup

“Overloading muscle tissue is a powerful way to build strength and aesthetics, and one way to achieve this is to focus only on negative reps and add more weight than you could possibly lift in the uphill or concentric phase of an exercise,” says Filly. .

Because of the angle at which you lower yourself, the lean away pull-up is a great way to target your upper back muscles. To start, use only your body weight before adding weight. To execute, jump to the top of your pull up, hold briefly, then start leaning back as far as you can and slowly descend. You are only working the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement, so take your time. Once you feel confident in your strength, you can start adding weights via vests or belts.

Exercise 2: RNT One-Arm Dumbbell Row

“This variation of a one-arm dumbbell row is a great way to help skew lats engagement when rowing,” he says. You will need a resistance band and a stable anchor point with your dumbbell and bench.

The technique here is to pull the dumbbell towards the hip, so you will be pulling against the resistance of the band as well as the resistance of the dumbbell. Filly suggests trying to create an arcing motion with the dumbbell as you row from below your shoulder toward your hip. This will put more emphasis on the lat.

Exercise 3: Landmine Knee on Bench Elbowing Row

“I love the landmine because it really simulates a machine. It provides some stability, but at the same time it will give you the same freedom of movement that you would see in a free weight,” says Filly. “This variation of the row is going to give the back of the shoulder and the rotator cuff more targeted work.”

When performing the exercise, pull your elbow out to the side of your body, perpendicular to the torso, as you rep.

Exercise 4: one-arm rope pull

“When we use ropes for pull-ups, we get two benefits,” says Filly. “The first is the added challenge of grip, which means that while we’re training our backs, we’ll also be training our forearms and biceps aggressively. The other advantage is that by having one hand on the other, and depending on the distance between them, we’re going to get this one-sided pull training effect, and it’s going to accentuate one side of the back more than the other.

He notes that the farther back you place your hands, the more difficult the pull-up will be. So, if you are new to this exercise, keep your hands together. And if you’re more advanced and want to challenge yourself on either side, spread your hands wide.

Exercise 5: Tapered Kettlebell Sweater

“If you don’t have a cable machine to perform pullovers or straight-arm lateral pulldowns, this is a great way to set up a similar exercise,” says Filly. Again, you will need a resistance band and a stable anchor with the weight and the bench.

While he notes that some people target this movement on the chest, there is no doubt that there is also a considerable lat component.

“The band provides tension in the horizontal direction, so even at the top of the rep when the kettlebell is just above your chest, you’re still under tension. For this exercise, I like to perform it on a slightly inclined bench if possible,” says Filly. “It allows me to support my entire back and get a better stretch in my lats.”

Exercise 6: Supine Band Separation

“This move can be done with the hands in a supinated or pronated position, but in my experience, the supinated grip is great for upper back and rotator cuff training,” says Filly. “The trick is to find the sweet spot of tension in this exercise. So you want to be able to get a full range of motion where you can extend your arms all the way out to the side, while you’re under just enough tension so you can throw between 15 and 25 reps. Play with the width of your grip on the band to find that sweet spot.

Exercise 7: One-Arm Ring Body Row

The one-arm ring body row provides a great option for a closed chain back exercise,” says Filly. “It will also allow for a long range of motion. Unilateral training, engaging one side of the body through a long range of motion is a great recipe for hypertrophy and strength development.”

He notes that this variation involves pulling and rotating to cover that large upper back and shoulder blade muscle group.

Exercise 8: Sled Drag Face Sweater

“I love it because it takes a tool that’s otherwise only meant for lower body training, and it turns it into an effective back exercise,” says Filly. “It’s also unique because there’s no eccentric or downward part of this lift. It’s all concentric. Without that eccentric load, you can perform more reps over a longer distance, and you get strength and a very unique hypertrophy.”

He notes that this exercise can be done sitting or standing. Keeping your elbows high and wide for this exercise will help you target your upper back and your traps.

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