Building strength is about every part of your body—not just those parts that other people can see or associate with strength. For example, regularly doing exercises to strengthen your lower back is critical for the strength of your core muscles, balance, coordination, and whole-body power.
When your lower back is sore, weak, or strained, it affects how you move or, in some cases, can’t move.
Your lower back supports your entire body, whether working out, standing, or even just sitting.
You don’t have to rely on complex moves or complicated equipment to exercise this area. You need to recognize its importance and make sure that you’re giving it the attention it deserves and requires.
The Function of Your Lower Back
Your lower back is the area between your lowest rib and the upper area of your glutes. The lower back keeps you upright, connecting your body’s upper and lower halves. You use it every day, even though you might not realize it.
- When you sit, your low back experiences a lot of compression and stress because of gravity.
- When you’re moving, the low back keeps supporting your upper body.
- The lower back also has internal benefits by protecting your organs, including your kidneys, colon, and reproductive organs.
- Your lower back isn’t made up of a single muscle. There are several key muscles. Your lower back affects your abdominal muscles, including your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, lumbar spine, and the health of your pelvic floor up to your shoulder blades and neck.
Since it exists as a foundation for all of your body’s functionality, strengthening your lower back will help you prevent injury, promote good posture, allow your other types of training to be more productive and effective, and give you overall health.
Your lower back muscles don’t work alone. They work in conjunction with other major muscle groups, so your fitness approach and strength training should be integrated to reduce poor posture, promote core stability and be physically stronger overall.
Lower Back Pain
Along with generally wanting to strengthen the lower area of your back, doing so is important to prevent pain and ensure you have continued mobility.
- Lower back pain is incredibly common, often resulting from a strain or injury to the muscles or tendons in the area.
- Disk injuries, structural issues, and arthritis can also contribute to back pain, particularly in the lower region.
- Some people experience back pain or muscle spasms that are debilitating, preventing them from doing daily activities.
- People who are obese or overweight are more likely to have back pain. The extra weight puts pressure on the joints and disks.
- Having weak ab muscles can cause back strains and sprains because they can’t support your spine.
- Other risk factors for lower back pain include smoking, drinking, or a sedentary lifestyle.
So how can you make sure you have a strong, stable lower back that serves as a powerful foundation for the rest of your body?
The Best Exercises to Strengthen Lower Back Muscles
Below are some of our favorite choices for lower back strength training. Many of them have multiple benefits, like also engaging your core at the same time.
Your glutes are the largest muscles of your buttocks, and they’re among your strongest. The gluteus maximus, as it’s technically known, controls hip movements, including hip extension activities and squats.
If your glutes are weak, it can contribute to back pain. The reason?
Your glutes stabilize your hip joints and lower back when you’re doing simple, everyday things, including walking.
To strengthen your lower back, you want to have strong gluteal muscles. Bridges are an effective, equipment-free way to simultaneously strengthen your glute muscles and lower back.
Remember the following to do this simple exercise:
- Lie on your ground, putting your feet flat on the floor.
- Your feet should be around hip-widths distance from each other.
- Press your feet to the floor while your hands are by your sides.
- Slowly lift your butt off the ground until you’re in a straight line.
- Your shoulders should stay on the ground. Hold this for 10-15 seconds.
- Lower down.
- Repeat 12-15 times, and perform three sets total. Give yourself around a minute of rest between each set.
There are back extensors that are alongside your spine. These muscles support you when you’re upright. They also provide support to your pelvic bones and spine so that you can arch your back. Doing superman’s can strengthen your entire back-side body, including your butt, hips, and shoulders.
- Lie flat on your stomach and extend your arms in front of you. Your legs should be out long, and you should keep your body stable but in a neutral position.
- Lift your hands and feet off the ground until you feel your lower back contract. You’ll raise them around six inches off the ground.
- You can engage your core by slightly lifting your belly button off the floor.
- Reach away with your hands and feet, and keep your eyes on the ground to avoid straining your neck.
- Hold the movement for two seconds and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 8-10 times.
Plank with Leg Lift
A plank is great for back and core strength. It’s the perfect move to engage and strengthen essentially every part of your body. If you add a leg lift to a plank, it will target the lower back.
- Start in a low plank, and then raise your body off the floor, with your weight on your toes and forearms.
- Raise one leg straight off the floor. When doing this, keep your back flat and neutral, and your body should be in a straight line.
- Lower back to the floor, and then raise your opposite leg.
- Alternate sides with each rep.
Side Plank Hold
Another variation on the plank that happens to be good for lower back strength training is the side plank. A side plank is also helpful for strengthening the external obliques for a stronger core overall. To perform the side plank hold, do the following:
- Life on one side of your body
- Put your weight onto one elbow
- Extend your legs out straight, stacked on top of one another
- Raise your body off the floor, with your weight resting on your foot and forearm
- Keep your body in a straight line, with your elbow directly under your shoulder
- Hold the side plank, and then lower yourself back to the ground
- Repeat on the other side
For this lower back strength training move, do the following:
- Start on your hands and knees and keep a neutral spine.
- While engaging your core, slowly extend your opposite arm and leg out simultaneously.
- Keep your neck long while doing this, and your eye line should be on the floor.
- Return to your starting position, alternating sides.
- Don’t overextend to the point that you’re dipping into your lower back—you want to make sure that your arm and leg are parallel to the floor while you have a strong core.
Exercise for Quality of Life
It doesn’t matter if you have great-looking biceps or legs if your foundation is weak and ineffective. Fort Fitness works with clients on integrated, whole-body training, including exercises to strengthen your lower back. When your lower back is strong, you’re powerful, and you’re going to be able to lift heavier, reduce the risk of injury, and be more functional in your daily life; to learn more call us at 949-544-1557.