Strengthening your lower back can help relieve lower back pain and reduce the risk of injury. Here are 10 exercises for strengthening the lower back
Your core consists of your lower and upper back, abdomen, pelvis, hips, and neck. When your core is strong, it supports your posture and balance, minimizing strain on your back.
Strengthening your lower back and core can help relieve lower back pain and reduce the risk of injury. However, make sure to enlist the help of a physical trainer who can help you use proper form, as doing these exercises improperly can do more harm than good. It is also important to warm up beforehand and start slowly.
If you have lower back pain or recently suffered an injury, consult your doctor before trying these exercises.
10 exercises to strengthen the lower back
1. Good mornings
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands placed behind your head.
- Pull your shoulders back and tighten your core.
- Breathe in and hinge forward from your hips (not your waist) while slightly bending your knees.
- Keep your back flat and lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your thighs.
- Breathe out and stand up straight.
- Try doing this exercise while holding a barbell or weights.
- Stand holding a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at your hips to hold the bar with a mixed grip on the bar (one hand overhand while the other hand underhand).
- Push your hips backward so that you come in a half-squat position with your back flat.
- Tighten your back and engage your core as you breathe.
- Raise the barbell, keeping it close to your shin and knees, and stand straight.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds and then lower the barbell to the ground without arching your back.
- Get down on all fours on a mat.
- Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees under your hips.
- Keep your back parallel to the floor and pull your belly button toward your spine.
- Reach your right arm forward as you straighten your left leg back.
- Hold for 2-4 seconds
- Return to the starting position.
4. Glute bridges
- Lie facing upward on a mat on the floor.
- Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground with your heels touching the floor.
- Dig your heels into the ground, simultaneously squeezing your hip muscles.
- Lift your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees are a straight line.
- Hold this position for about 5-6 seconds.
- Bring your hips back to the floor slowly.
- Rest for 5-10 seconds and repeat.
5. Knee to chest
- Lie down with your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Draw your right knee toward your chest while keeping your left foot flat on the floor.
- Hold this position for about 15-30 seconds, making sure your back is flat on the floor.
- Resist the temptation to lift your lower back or put pressure on it.
- Gently lower your right knee and relax.
- Repeat the exercise with your left knee.
- Lie on the floor facing down.
- Place your palms on the floor slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Extend your legs back so that you are balanced on your hands and toes.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe without arching your back.
- Keep your feet together or spaced slightly apart, depending on what is most comfortable for you
- Keep your core tight, inhale slowly, bend your elbows, and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle
- Breathe out and push yourself back up using your hands.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent during this workout and avoid locking them.
- Lie on the floor facing down.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor
- Raise your arms, legs, and chest simultaneously off the floor.
- Hold for about 2 seconds and breathe out.
- Slowly inhale and bring your arms, legs, and chest to the ground.
8. Contralateral limb raises
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and toes pointing away from your shins.
- Extend your arms overhead so that your palms are facing each other.
- Keep your core tight as you breathe out while raising the opposite arm and leg (for example, left arm and right leg) a few inches above the ground
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
9. Bent-over rows
- Stand with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees slightly and hold dumbbells in each hand with a neutral grip.
- Hinge forward from your hips so that your torso is roughly parallel to (or slightly above) the floor; this is the starting position.
- Drive your elbows behind your trunk while retracting the shoulder blades.
- Now pull the dumbbells toward your trunk until your elbows are at or just past the midline.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.
- Stand with your feet together or slightly apart while keeping your core tight.
- Gently breathe out and bend downward, keeping your legs straight.
- Touch the ground and crawl forward until you are in a push-up position and your back is parallel to the ground.
- Crawl back in the same way until you reach the standing position.
- Inhale and repeat.
Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2022
Graham K. 5 Lower Back Bodyweight Exercises to Ward off Low Back Pain. The American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/6326/5-lower-back-bodyweight-exercises-to-ward-off-low-back-pain/
Mayo Clinic. Back exercises. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265