Weak lower back muscles can lead to various injuries and back pain. Back pain can interfere with our day to day lives and make even the simplest of tasks a nightmare. Now, I’m confident that nobody wants that. All of that can be avoided by properly exercising and strengthening your lower back muscles. In this article, we have picked our four favorite and possibly the best lower back exercises to help you strengthen your back muscles.
1. Back Extensions (Hyperextensions)
Back extensions, also known as hyperextensions, are the single best exercise you can do to strengthen your lower back. There are plenty of different variations to try, and you can do them basically anywhere, at home, at work, or at the gym.
The movement mainly targets your lower back by isolating your lower back muscles and training your spinal erectors. Back extensions also work your glutes and hamstrings and your core in general.
This lower back exercise can also do wonders for your back health. They are super simple and effective for preventing possible lower back injuries, healing your back, fighting back pain, and helping you recover from existing back injuries.
How to do Hyperextensions on a bench
- Lie on the hyperextension bench and lock your feet on the foot brace.
- Make sure that your waist is clear of the thigh support so you could bend at your waist.
- Cross your arms on your chest.
- Push your chest out a bit and keep your back straight.
- Slowly lower your upper body, by bending at our waist
- Lower as far down as you can. How far you can lower yourself depends on your flexibility. Lower yourself until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings
- Pause at the bottom.
- Slowly bring your body back up until it’s in a straight line again.
Tips to consider
- Always start with a proper warmup.
- Don’t use heavy weights.
- Keep the movement controlled and slow.
- Adjust the bench so that it fits your body.
The exercise varies mainly by how you perform it and by the equipment you use for it. For example, hyperextensions can be done by lying on the ground, by using a bench, an exercise ball, or even a specific machine. Using the back extension bench will make the movement much longer, and you can work your back muscles more effectively.
Lower back extensions can also be done both by using weight or with your body weight, depending on your end goal and the equipment you have. You can even use resistance bands and stuff like that to make it a bit harder.
The most popular way to add weight is by using a plate. Even with this, you have two options. You can either hold the plate at your chest or on your back. Holding the weight on your back can be a little trickier, and it can certainly feel a bit uncomfortable, but it will force your back and erector muscles to work harder compared to holding the weight on your chest.
Here are some hyperextension variations you could try out:
Exerciseball Back Extension
Lying Back Extensions
2. Good morning
Good mornings are a great and simple exercise to do for your lower back. If done with proper form the exercise will massively improve your back health and will strengthen your lower back muscles.
The movement is very similar to the deadlift and mainly engages the same muscles. The difference is that with this exercise the weight is on your back, rather than your hands (as it is with the deadlift). This forces your back muscles to work a lot harder making it an effective lower back exercise.
Good mornings basically train every muscle in your posterior chain. They work your glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, all the muscles in your back, and even your abs and core to an extent.
How To Do The Good Morning:
It’s best to do the good morning using a barbell, but the move can be done with any other type of weight such as dumbbells or weight plates. Also, the exercise can be done with just your bodyweight or by using resistance bands.
- Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart
- Place a barbell on your shoulders. The bar should rest on the back of your shoulders and your traps.
- Brace your core and keep your back flat.
- Hinge your hips- push them back and lower your chest until it’s almost parallel to the ground.
- Keep your core engaged and bring your body back up.
Tips to consider:
- Before starting the exercise, do a proper warmup for your lower back to avoid any possible injuries.
- Keep your core engaged for the whole movement.
- Start with light weights, and add more weight gradually.
- If you aren’t flexible enough for the move, then you can keep a slight bend in your knees.
The deadlift is a complete beast of an exercise. It’s a full-body lift that works your body from head to toe. The DL is considered the best muscle- growing and strength-building exercises of all time by many.
The lift mainly focuses on the muscles in your posterior chain. It’s also great for your grip strength and your core and stabilizing muscles. This huge compound lift also puts a heavy focus on your lower back. If done right, with proper and good technique and form, it’s one of the best back exercises you can do to improve your lower back strength.
How to deadlift
- Place your feet about hip-width apart.
- The bar should be positioned over the middle of your feet.
- Push your hips back and hinge your body forward.
- Grip the bar at about shoulder-width with an overhand grip.
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar.
- Keep your back straight and your head in a neutral position and look forward.
- Lift your chest up and drop your hips.
- Lift the bar using your legs. While lifting set your lats and drive through your feet like you would be pushing the floor away.
- The bar should move in a straight line.
- Fully extend your knees and hips and lock your hips out.
- Return the bar slowly and in a controlled manner back to the floor.
This lower back exercise can also be done by using dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or any other type of weight you can grip.
There are many different variations to this popular lift, and many of those can make for an excellent lower back exercise to add to your workout routine. Here are some deadlift variations that focus more on your lower back:
The stiff-leg deadlift is the best deadlift variation to strengthen your lower back muscles. In fact it’s one of my personal favorite lower back exercises ever.
What makes it so great and how does it differ from the regular deadlift? As the name implies, this variation is done with straight legs. You keep your legs stiff/ straight for the whole lift. This puts a lot more strain on your lower back and your hamstrings.
How to do the stiff-leg deadlift:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the barbell in an overhand grip at about shoulder-width.
- Deadlift the barbell. This is your starting position for the exercise.
- With your back as straight as possible, start bending over from your waist and slowly bring the weight down.
- Lower the bar as far as your hamstrings will let you (until you feel a stretch).
- Allow your knees to slightly bend at the bottom.
- The bar should move in a straight line.
- Pause and bring the bar back up.
Just like the stiff-leg DL, the Romanian deadlift focuses on your lower back and hamstring muscles. In fact, this back exercise is often mistaken for the stiff-leg deadlift. These two lifts are very similar and almost identical but there are a few key differences.
The main difference is that with the RDL you bend your knees a little and keep them fixed in that position for the entire lift. Which allows for an increased range of movement and it’s less dependent on your flexibility. Which makes it a great substitute for the stiff leg DL if you aren’t flexible enough.
The deficit deadlift is a little less known and often feared DL variation. In this variation, the lifter is slightly elevated by standing on a plate or a low platform. So that you are pulling the weight from a lower starting point. This increased range of movement will recruit more muscles in your posterior chain and focus more on your lower back.
But why is it often feared? Well, some trainers think it’s too dangerous because of the increased range and the fact that it places a lot more strain on your lower back. But in reality, if it’s done with proper DL form it is perfectly safe and an excellent exercise to strengthen your lower back.
4. Reverse Hyperextensions
The reverse hyperextension is basically the opposite movement to the regular hyperextension. In the hyperextension, you lifted and extended your upper body, but in this exercise, you are lifting and extending your lower body. This lower back exercise might not be as well known but it’s very popular in certain sports like for an example track and field.
The reverse hyperextensions require your upper body to be elevated enough so you move and lower your legs in a large range. They can be done by using a specific bench, the reverse hyperextension machine, or by using any platform to elevate your body.
To make this lower back exercise more challenging you can add weights to your heels (using ankle weights or even a dumbbell) or you can use resistance bands.
How to do the reverse hyperextensions
- Start by lying face down on an elevated surface.
- Your hips should be at the end of the surface. So you could flex and move your hips freely.
- Straighten your legs in the starting position.
- Brace your core muscles
- Slowly lift your straight legs until they are parallel with your body.
- Hold this position for a second.
- Now bring your legs back to the starting position.
There tons of different and beneficial exercises for the lower back to choose from. While choosing the best exercises, you should always consider your physical capabilities and personal needs. But these were my top 4 picks for the best lower back exercises you can do to strengthen your back muscles.
Also, in order to keep your lower back healthy and avoid any injuries, your lower back workout routine should be diverse. So, while training your back you should also consider adding different stretches and static exercises to your workout routine.
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