Some people neglect their back when participating in exercise programs. However, exercising the muscles of the back is an important part of a well-rounded routine. Exercising the back consistently can help prevent and/or treat back pain. There are many exercises you can perform to strengthen your back using only your body weight as resistance. Some require special equipment, but many can be done from the comfort of your home.
This exercise is usually performed using a special apparatus, but can be done on a bench or table also. Lie face down on a bench with your upper body and waist hanging off the edge. Have a partner hold your feet down. Extend your trunk until your body is aligned from head to feet. Pause for a moment and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
Like back extensions, the bird-dog exercise works on the muscles of the lower back. Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Perform the exercise by extending your right hand forward and your left leg backward at the same time. When both are parallel to the ground, pause momentarily and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side by raising your left hand and right leg.
The bridge works on the lower back. Start by sitting with your knees bent and feet on the ground in front of you approximately 6 inches apart. Place your palms on the ground shoulder width apart behind you with your fingers directed away from your back. To perform the exercise, use the muscles of your lower back to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders are aligned horizontally. Keep your hands and feet on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds or more.
Contralateral Limb Raises
Begin on your belly with your arms extended in front of your head. Squeeze your lower back to raise your left arm and right leg about 6 inches off the ground at the same time. Lower them back to the ground and raise your right arm and left leg.
Pull-ups exercise the big latissimus dorsi muscles that run from your shoulders down either side of your back. Start by hanging from a bar high enough so your feet do not touch the ground. Hold your hands much wider than shoulder width. Perform the exercise by pulling your body upward until your chin is above the bar, then slowly return to the starting position. Do not swing your legs to help raise your body.
Begin in the same position as contralateral limb raises, but raise both arms and legs simultaneously rather than the contralateral limbs. Pause for a second at the top before relaxing back to the starting position.