We all want chiselled arms, strong legs, and glutes, but what about your lower back muscles? Your back musculature should complement the strength of your core, neither one being stronger than the other. The primary job of the core is to support and stabilise your spine, so it’s a balance to develop a strong foundation, front to back.
If those muscles are strong, they can perform their jobs effectively, minimising the stress on your spine. But if they’re weak and/or overworked, then they likely won’t give your spine the support it needs, increasing your risk of developing back pain.
There are many exercises you can do to make the muscles in your core—including your lower back muscles — better at doing their jobs. But the best ones don’t simply strengthen your core muscles — they condition those muscles to work together more effectively and efficiently.
Also keep in mind that strengthening your lower back muscles is no guarantee against future back pain. There are so many reasons that you might develop back pain. It can come from improper posture, tight musculature, slipped discs, and pinched nerves, among other causes.
Consider adding one or two of these lower back exercises to your workouts two to three times a week.
This basic floor move targets the muscles linking the upper and lower body, strengthening the erector spinae and QL. It also works your upper back, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and your arms extended ahead of you.
- Squeeze your glutes and lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor.
- Raise your right arm and left leg toward the ceiling.
- Lower them as you raise your left arm and right leg toward the ceiling.
- Continue alternating sides.
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Superman with resistance band:
A resistance band boosts the challenge of this classic floor exercise, increasing the muscle engagement and tension not only in your core, but also throughout your posterior chain, which includes the muscles of the lower back.
- Wrap a resistance band securely around both feet, and lie face down holding the handles beside your shoulders.
- Your heels should touch, with your toes turned out, and the band should run along the outsides of your legs.
- Keeping your legs straight and your core engaged, simultaneously extend your arms in front of you as you lift your chest and legs off the floor.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
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This exercise targets your glutes and hamstrings, but also engages muscles throughout your core to hold you steady.
- Lie face-up with your hands on opposite shoulders, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor.
- Keeping your core braced, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body is straight from knees to shoulders.
- Pause, then slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
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Half-Superman Heel Tap:
Limiting movement to your lower body in this exercise allows you to focus on strengthening your QL, glutes, and erector spinae as you raise your legs as high as possible.
- Lie face down with your feet wider than your hips, and your arms extended ahead of you, holding a sandbag or dumbbell as a counterweight.
- Bend your knees slightly, and try to raise your quads off of the floor.
- Keeping your legs elevated, tap your heels together, and reverse the move to return to the starting position.
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The combination of extending and contracting your arms and legs helps you to engage all of the muscles along your posterior chain, including your erector spinae, QL, lats, rear delts, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Lie face down with your legs straight and your palms on the floor beside your shoulders.
- Squeeze your glutes, and raise your chest and legs off the floor as you extend your arms ahead of you.
- Simultaneously bend your knees and cross your ankles, as you draw your elbows back toward your hips.
- Straighten your legs and arms, and return to the starting position to complete one rep.
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As you raise you legs and sweep your arms back during this move, you’ll feel all the muscles along your posterior chain engage.
- Lie face down with your legs straight and your arms extended in front of you.
- Your feet should be hip- to shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze your glutes, and lift your chest and legs off of the floor.
- Sweep your arms back until your fingertips are pointing toward your feet.
- Pause, and then sweep your arms straight ahead of you.
- Continue alternating arm positions.
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This standing exercise strengthens your hamstrings and all of the muscles in your posterior chain, including your erector spinae, which act as stabilisers.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and and place your fingertips gently behind your ears.
- Keeping your back flat and core braced, push your hips back, and lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the ground.
- Pause, and then return to the starting position.