7 BEST Exercises for a Stronger Lower Back

Check out my client Jordan’s transformation below where he lost a bunch of fat!

Are you ready to experience pain relief and improved strength like you’ve never felt before? If you answered ‘yes,’ keep reading to learn more.

These are 7 of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your lower back and prevent lower back pain from developing or reappearing. If you struggle with sciatica or just nagging low back pain, try these exercises with very light loads to slowly strengthen and build your lower back musculature.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises for the Lower Back

Deep down along your lower back, you have a group of muscles known collectively as the erector spinae. These muscles assist with everyday functions like extending and stabilizing the spine.

On top of that is a sizeable fan-shaped layer of muscle known as the lats. Then, we have the trapezius, a diamond-shaped muscle that runs from behind your head down to your mid-back.

By building up these muscles that run along your back as well as other muscles that support your lower back like your glutes and your core, not only will you develop a more aesthetic looking back, but you’ll also reduce the chances of developing lower back pain, which is one of the most common areas that people experience nagging injuries and pain.

A Word to the Wise…

Before we begin, I want to warn you that if you recently injured your back and are currently in pain, you need to give your body the time to recover. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is rest and wait until you’ve fully healed before working on strengthening your lower back with the exercises in this post.

Today, I want to go over 7 of the best exercises that you can use to strengthen and build up your lower back and the supporting muscle groups.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

Exercise #1: Hyperextensions

With that said, let’s start with the first exercise, hyperextensions.

This exercise is usually the most common go-to exercise for people trying to strengthen their lower backs.

The problem is that most people that use the hyperextension machine or the GHR machine. They end up performing hyperextensions incorrectly. Rather than strengthening their lower back, they place it directly at risk for an injury.

Whether you’re using a GHR or a hyperextension bench, the setup will be similar.

How to Perform Hyperextensions

Remember: The machines are adjustable. Before beginning, adjust the height so that the area right around your hip bones makes contact with the pad’s edge. You don’t want to be so low that your stomach makes contact, and you don’t want to be so high that your upper thighs don’t make contact.

Step 1: Lay facing forward on the bench. With the front of your thighs resting on a pad, hook your Achilles under the pads at the base.

Step 2: Cross your arms in front of your body. Go behind your head if you want a more significant challenge.

Step 3: Lower your upper body down slowly, bending at the waist until you feel a stretching tension building up in your hamstrings and your lower back. Although this exercise can be performed for partial reps, ideally, you want to lower yourself until your upper body is almost entirely vertical.

Step 4: Hold the position for a second and slowly return your body to the upright position.

Common Mistakes…

A common mistake many people make is extending past the spine’s neutral point – do not do this!

Once you extend your back into a straight line, don’t keep going further back into a hyperextended position. Instead, stop at neutral, and lower back down for the next rep.

Now, suppose you want to make this exercise even more challenging. In that case, you can hold a weight against your chest, with your arms crossed over on top, but only add weight after you’ve mastered the movement and have solid form.

Exercise #2: Kettlebell Swings

Let’s move on to the next one, kettlebell swings.

When done correctly, kettlebell swings are significantly effective at strengthening and protecting your lower back. They’re especially good at working your lumbar extensors.

Still, just like with all other back-building exercises, they can cause lower back pain rather than help fix it if you do them incorrectly.

How to Perform Kettlebell Swings

Step 1: Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width and the kettlebell out in front of you.

Step 2: Bend your knees, grab the kettlebell with both hands. Try and keep your arms straight and relaxed throughout this exercise. It’s not meant to be an arm exercise, but rather a hip-hinging exercise.

Step 3: Stand up straight with the kettlebell, relax your knees, shift your bodyweight back into your heels, and lower your butt backward and down as you swing the kettlebell behind you in between your legs.

Step 4: Drive through your heels, and explode through your hips. This explosive hip hinging motion should send the kettlebell swinging upward. 

NB: As you pop your hips forward, don’t allow them to go past a neutral spine. Pushing your hips forward too much will hyperextend your spine and will more than likely lead to a back injury. 

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

Step 5: Pop your hips, then squeeze your core and your glutes to stop at neutral. Aim for the kettlebell to come up to about chest height, with your arms still extended. 

Step 6: Allow the kettlebell to come back down as you shift your weight back on your heels, hinge your hips, and catch the weight of the kettlebell.

Step 7: Using the momentum, go straight into your next rep. 

Common Mistakes…

Now, keep in mind that many beginners make the mistake of performing squats, with frontal raises, instead of kettlebell swings.

If you’re not hinging your hips, and you feel like your shoulders are doing all the work, then you’re doing the exercise incorrectly. Ensure you lighten the weight and work on your form if it feels more like a shoulder workout than anything.

Exercise #3: Deadlifts

Next, we have the deadlift. 

This is by far one of the best exercises to strengthen your entire back, including your lower back.

Keep in mind that this is a hip hinge movement. Many newbies think that you just muscle the weight up with your lower back, but doing deadlifts that way is a recipe for disaster. 

How to Perform Deadlifts

Step 1: Step up to a loaded barbell, with your shins close to the bar, and plant your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.

Step 2: Hinge your hips and bend down to the bar.

Tip: To hinge your hips properly, push your hips back towards the wall behind you while you hinge forward at the hips. Almost imagine that you’re trying to stick your butt out back behind you.

Step 3: Grip the bar slightly wider than where your shins meet the bar.

Step 4: Stick your chest out, and drop your hips down while squeezing your shoulder blades together to pull all the slack out of the bar. Make sure you don’t lean too far forward. You want your shoulders in line with your hands.

Step 5: Take a deep breath, hold it, and lift the weight up.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

Remember: When lifting the weight, don’t pull with your lower back. Instead, lift the weight by squeezing your abs, pushing your feet into the ground, and hinging your hips by driving them forward until you’re standing upright, then repeat for reps.

Take a deep breath and hold it on each rep. Exhale at the top. This is something known as the Valsalva maneuver, and it helps protect your spine in a similar way to a lifting belt.

Exercise #4: Back Squats

Another excellent compound exercise that not only develops your lower back but is also one of the best exercises for your legs is the back squat. The squat will also help you strengthen your glutes, and weak glutes are actually a common cause of lower back pain.

How to Perform Back Squats

Step 1: Set up a barbell so that it’s positioned a little lower than the height of your shoulders.

Step 2: Stand in front of the barbell, and grab it with both hands. Dip your head under and press your upper traps against the barbell. Do not position the barbell on your neck; it should be lower down on your traps.

Step 3: Unrack the bar, and take one or two steps back.

Step 4: Spread your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly rotate your feet outward.

Step 5: Make sure that your chest is up, pointing straight ahead, and that you’re maintaining a nice neutral curve in your lower back.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

Step 6: Drive your hips back, bend your knees and lower yourself down nice and slowly. As you do that, make sure that you’re not too far up on your toes because that’ll put a lot of pressure on your knees. You shouldn’t be too far back on your heels either.

Step 7: Squat down until your hips are either parallel with your knees, or you can go under parallel for deep squats if it doesn’t bother your knees and your hips to go that low.

Step 8: Drive through the middle of your foot, extend your knees and your back simultaneously as you stand up straight. Repeat for reps.

Exercise #5: Bridges

Now that you know that having solid glutes helps support the lower back, it’ll make a lot of sense that for our next exercise, we have bridges.

Bridges can be done on the floor at home, and they also can be done loaded with weights.

How to Perform Bridges

To perform bodyweight bridges on the floor:

Step 1: Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your heels on the floor.

Step 2: Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips up until your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Do not go any further up past that point, and do not allow your lower back to hyperextend. To prevent that from happening, flex your abs and keep your core tight.

Step 3: Hold that top position, squeeze your glutes for a second, and then slowly lower the hips back to the floor before repeating for reps.

To perform bodyweight bridges with weights:

Place a barbell across your hips on top of a pad or a towel. Have your body facing perpendicular to a bench, and rest your traps on the edge of the bench.

From there, you would bridge up in the same way, making sure to keep your core tight and do not go any higher than that straight line between your shoulders, hips, and knees. Then lower back down and repeat for reps.

Exercise #6: The Plank

Next, we’re going to move on to a great core exercise that’ll help you improve your ability to maintain a neutral spine combined with the other exercises we’ve gone over. I’m talking about the plank.

How to Perform the Plank

Step 1: Get on all fours and plant your elbows directly under shoulders a little wider than shoulder-width.

Step 2: Extend your knees, plant your toes into the floor, and squeeze glutes and abs to stabilize your body. You should be in a relatively straight line, from your heels to your hips to your head.

Concentrate on one spot on the floor and make sure you do not extend your neck and lookup.

Step 3: Hold that position for 60 seconds.

Tips

If you can only do that for 20 seconds at first before your form starts getting worse, then that’s fine; stop at 20 seconds and work your way up to being able to do it for 60 seconds. Once you master this exercise, you can try adding a weight that you’ll place between your glutes and mid-back. But don’t up the weight until you can hold a regular plank for at least 60 seconds.

If you can only do that for 20 seconds at first before your form starts getting worse, then that’s fine; stop at 20 seconds and work your way up to being able to do it for 60 seconds. Once you master this exercise, you can try adding a weight that you’ll place between your glutes and mid-back. But don’t up the weight until you can hold a regular plank for at least 60 seconds.

Exercise #7: Side Plank

Finally is the side plank. This is going to help you focus on other parts of your core, like your obliques. Just like regular planks, they must be done correctly to be effective.

How to Perform a Side Plank

Step 1: Start by lying down on the floor on your side, and prop your upper body up with your elbow. Your elbow should be planted on the floor directly under your shoulder.

Step 2: Stack your feet together and squeeze your core as you raise your hips up until your body is in a straight line from head to feet.

Step 3: Hold that position without letting your hips drop for 60 seconds or go for a shorter time frame if your form starts breaking down. Then repeat on the other side.

Concluding Notes…

So those are 7 of the best exercises that you can do to help strengthen your lower back, as well as your core. You can sprinkle these exercises into your weekly workout routine, or you can perform them together in one workout. Just make sure that if you start experiencing lower back pain, then don’t push through it. Stop, let yourself recover, and come back to it next time.

That about wraps it up. Also, keep in mind that you will have to reduce your body fat if you want to see some excellent lower back definition.

So if you want any further help with burning fat or building muscle, and you want a streamlined process that you can use to hit your goals faster whether you train at the gym or at home, then click the link below.

We’ll provide a done-for-you plan with a customizable diet plan, an entire video exercise library, recipe books, and a coach to help guide you through the whole process. To find out more and to make a transformation like Jordan did, go ahead and click the link below.

Use my Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool to get the perfect program designed for your body and goal

Use My Free Diet & Workout Planner Tool

My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first of 3 transformation studios in 2011. I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 3,000,000 subscribers! I can happily say that we've helped over 15,000 people get in great shape over the years. I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to support@gravitychallenges.com

Founder // Gravity Transformation, Max Posternak