Best Exercises to Strengthen Lower Back

Best Exercises to Strengthen Lower Back

by Evelyn Valdez

When we talk about building a stronger core, we often think of getting a six-pack by adding a bunch of ab exercises to our workouts. However, training your abs mostly takes care of the front and the sides of your core, but what about the back?

Your lower back muscles play an important part in core strength by helping you stand straight and lift objects, such as your favorite heavy weights at the gym. Not only that, but your back muscles in general are in charge of protecting your spine from any strain during physical activity, particularly your lower back during lifting movements.

To help you give your lower back muscles the workout that they need, we’ve prepared a list of some of the best lower back exercises that you can add to your strength training routine. This way, you’ll strengthen your core all around and avoid any unwanted injuries during your heavier lifts!

Kettlebell swing

This powerful exercise isn’t just great for strengthening your lower back along with the rest of your posterior chain, but it’s also considered a full-body workout that increases your flexibility, explosiveness, and power.

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell by the handle with both hands in a neutral grip.
  2. Begin by hinging at the hips and slightly at the knees, driving the kettlebell down and between your legs.
  3. Use the momentum of the kettlebell to explosively thrust your hips forward as you swing the weight forward and up to shoulder height, with your arms fully extended in front of you and parallel to the floor.
  4. Immediately reverse the movement by swinging the weight back down and between your legs, and continue the movement until you finish your reps.

Rack pull

Rack pulls are the perfect pre-deadlift exercise because they feature a reduced range of motion and target your lower back without too much strain. And with the help of a pair of UPPPER Lifting Straps, you can max out while keeping the weight fully under control!

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a squat rack with your feet hip-width apart and place a loaded barbell around knee height.
  2. Bend at the hips and knees to reach for the barbell, grabbing it with both hands in an overhand grip at around shoulder-width distance.
  3. Keeping your back straight, engage your core and begin the movement by extending your hips and knees, pulling from the bar as you go up until you’re standing straight with the bar resting over your thighs.
  4. Pause for a moment while you squeeze your muscles, then bring the bar back to the rack and repeat.

Back extension

During back extensions you target your whole posterior chain, strengthening your lower back muscle groups and improving overall flexibility around your hips to help you increase your range of motion.

How to do it:

  1. Set up the back extension machine so that you fit comfortably on it, then get on the machine with your lower body resting on the pads and your feet secured under the ankle pads.
  2. Cross your arms in front of you and begin the movement by engaging your core and hinging forward at the hips as you lower your upper body until your hips are bent at around 90 degrees.
  3. Hold this position for a moment while you squeeze your muscles, then slowly extend your hips back to the starting position and repeat.

Single-leg side plank

Planks are a great core exercise as they target both your abdominal muscles and your lower back, and by making it unilateral with a single leg you’ll also target your obliques, turning it into a complete core workout!

How to do it:

  1. Place your left forearm and foot on the floor in a side plank position, stacking your right foot on top of your left one.
  2. With your right hand on your hips or in the air for stability, begin the movement by raising your right leg past the horizontal, keeping your torso in a straight line with your left leg.
  3. Keep this plank position for the desired count without letting your hips drop, then switch to the opposite side and repeat.

Barbell bent-over row

Sometimes classic strength-training exercises are just what you need, and the barbell bent-over row is perfect for strengthening your whole back. Make sure to stay safe during your heavier lifts with a trusty UPPPER Double Prong Lifting Belt or Lever Belt from our collection!

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a loaded barbell with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend down to grab the bar with an overhand grip and your hands shoulder-width apart, then extend your hips just enough so that the bar sits right below your knees while your arms are fully extended downward.
  3. Keeping a straight back, begin the movement by pulling the bar toward your body, bending your elbows and driving them back until the bar almost touches your belly button.
  4. Stay in this position for a second while you squeeze your muscles, then slowly bring the bar to the starting position and repeat.

Barbell good morning

Good mornings are a killer exercise for your lower back and the entirety of your posterior chain, and you can maximize your gains by adding a barbell to the mix to increase resistance!

How to do it:

  1. Place a loaded barbell on a squat rack at about shoulder level, then get under it and place it over your upper back where your traps and shoulders are.
  2. Grab the bar with both hands in an overhand grip at a comfortable distance from your head, then unrack it, step away from the bar, and stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  3. With your knees bent slightly, begin the movement by hinging down at the hips, lowering your upper body along with the bar until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor.
  4. Squeeze your muscles in this position while keeping your back straight, then return to the standing position and repeat.

Landmine deadlift

This simpler deadlift variation allows you to target your posterior chain without putting too much strain on your spine, making it perfect for beginners and those with back problems!

How to do it:

  1. Load one end of the bar and secure the opposite end against a rack or a corner to make sure it doesn’t slip, and place it on the floor.
  2. Stand in front of the loaded side of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart, then hinge at the hips and knees to grab the loaded end with both hands.
  3. Engage your core and begin the movement by straightening your hips and knees, pulling from the bar as you go up until you’re standing straight with your arms down, holding the weight.
  4. Hold for a second while you squeeze your muscles, then slowly bring the bar down and repeat.

Strengthen your core for better exercise performance

Your core is right at the center of your body, so you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping it strong so it can support both your upper and lower body exercises to maximize your gains. 

Want to lift heavier and hit PRs safely?

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