Try this trainer's four-move functional back workout with just a pair of dumbbells and your body weight

Train your back with minimal equipment and get stronger postural muscles

Man using dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A large portion of your postural muscles are found in your back. Strengthening them can make it easier to stand upright and move freely throughout the day. A strong set of back muscles will also help your form during exercises like the deadlift

NASM-qualified personal trainer Sadielee Thomas has put together this 20-minute workout that specifically targets the muscles of your back and core. It’s a functional strength workout, which means that it mimics everyday movements, so that your strength gains translate directly to real life.

How to do the workout

The exercises

1. Push plank single-arm row to tricep kickback: 4x30 seconds

2. Push plank with single-arm dumbbell reverse fly: 4x30 seconds

3. Bear hover renegade row: 4x30 seconds

4. Rear delt dumbbell row: 4x30 seconds

You’ll do this workout in rounds, with 30 seconds of each exercise, 30 seconds of rest, then 30 seconds of the next move. Continue this until you’ve finished the full list of exercises, then repeat the whole thing four times. 

What is functional strength training?

We previously spoke to WIT Fitness coach Monica Swain, who explained the differences between functional strength training and traditional strength training.  

"Traditional strength training is more static and isolated, however functional strength training is just that: functional. You work on your strength through multiple ranges of motion across different directions."

It can help you build a more robust body, as you'll stimulate your muscles and joints from lots of different angles. But that's not it's only benefit.  

"Due to the nature of the large full body movements involved, you’ll burn lots of calories and get a cardiovascular benefit as well," adds HYROX Master Trainer Jade Skillen adds. "The more muscles you use in a movement the greater the demand on your circulatory system."

Looking for your next set of weights? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.


Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.