The back muscles consist of the latissimus dorsi muscles which run down the sides of your back and are responsible for pulling motions, including rowing motions and pulling your arms downward. There are also other smaller muscles in your back. Exercises for your back include chin-ups and rowing. If you have access to a chin-up bar, or can construct something in your basement or garage, or purchase the type of inexpensive bar that you install in a doorway, then you are all set. Even a tree branch can sometimes work. Various types of chip-ups make for a great back routine, and also work your biceps a lot. Do underhand and overhand chins, and experiment with different grips. If you are strong enough, you can do chins behind your neck, which isolate the lats even more. Many people I know, myself included, who have been working out for years and have all kinds of equipment, still employ regular chin-ups as their primary back exercise.

Many parks have circuit training courses in which you jog from station to station, performing a different exercise at each station, and usually one of these stations is a chinning station. If there is a park near you check out what is available. You can often use the equipment to perform your chins, and maybe other parts of your routine, especially in good weather.

Since you are using your entire bodyweight as resistance, chins can be pretty tough if you are just starting out or if you are overweight. In this case, you can assist yourself by jumping and pulling yourself up, and then letting yourself down slowly, to the count of ten if possible. These types of “negative” reps are also good under ordinary circumstances as a second set. If you can’ t do a chin up at all, try climbing on a chair and grabbing the bar so you can step off already at the top position, then let yourself down slowly, to the count of ten if possible, resisting the whole way. Keep trying to do regular chins as well, and after a week or two, don’ t be surprised if they start to come easy.

A rowing exercise is also a great back builder. Dumbells work great for one arm rowing, as does any heavy weight you can find that you can lift with one hand. For one arm rowing, you place one hand on a bench and also the knee and lower leg of that same side, so you are sort of kneeling on the bench with one leg and leaning on it with your hand at the same time. The other foot is on the ground, and you reach down with that hand and lift the weight off of the floor. Keeping the rest of your body still, “row” the weight up to the side of your torso, and back down again. You can work up to some pretty heavy weights with this one, but go slowly. Increasing a few pounds a week is