A home gym can potentially sound pretty limiting -- you probably only have a few basics and don't have the luxury of using fancy resistance machines or tonnes of weight. Don't use that as an excuse to put you off though. The key to getting the most out of your home gym is to get inventive. When it comes to strengthening your back muscles there are plenty of effective though unconventional exercises you can perform that can get just as good results as sticking with your faithful old gym routine.
Free-weights should be the foundation of your home gym as they're versatile and relatively cheap. You can train your back in two planes of motion, writes Nia Shanks, strength coach and co-founder of Girls Gone Strong. Horizontal movements hit the rhomboids and traps in the center of your back while vertical exercises work the lats that run from your hip joint to your armpit. Most free-weight exercises are in the horizontal plane, so pick a variety of rowing movements such as barbell rows or dumbbell rows using whatever equipment you have available. If you don't have free-weights then a grocery bag filled with cans is your best alternative.
Resistance bands may look like they should be confined to yoga classes and physiotherapy centers, but when used correctly they can be seriously tough and effective. You can substitute bands for barbells and dumbbells on your rows by attaching them to a door frame and pulling the band towards you. Try band pull aparts too -- grab a band and hold it out in front with a shoulder-width grip. Pull your arms apart while keeping your elbows straight until it lightly touches your chest, pause for a second then straighten your arms again.
Don't dismiss chinups as being too difficult before you try them. They certainly are challenging, but it's well within your reach to perform them. Strength coach Charles Poliquin, owner of the Poliquin Performance Center, says that while women can initially struggle with chinups and pullups, any female can go from zero chinups to 12 in 11 weeks. Using a resistance band looped round the bar is the best way to start learning chinups, adds Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." Place your knees in the loop made by the band -- this will give you some assistance on the way up. As you progress aim to increase the reps and switch to a lighter band.
Hit your back muscles once a week if you're doing a body-part split routine. Perform one rowing exercise with free-weights, one band exercise and a chinup or pullup variation. If you're using a full-body approach to working out, however, use free-weights in your first session of the week, bands in your second and work on chinups in your third. It can be harder to find motivation with a home gym and you'll need to get creative, but when done right your results can be even better than if you were training at a commercial gym.
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