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Exercises for a Weak Lower Back

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Exercises for a Weak Lower Back
Man working out on fitness ball. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Having an adequate amount of strength in your lower back is important for ensuring you’re able to hold your spine in proper alignment. If your lower back muscles are weak, they’ll fatigue more quickly and be unable to keep you upright when you’re sitting or standing. Improper alignment of the spine can lead to lower back pain.

Significance of the Lower Back

The major muscles in your lower back are your erector spinae muscles, which run along the length of your spine. They’re responsible for performing spinal extension, or straightening your spine from a flexed position. They also work with your abs to keep your spine straight. According to ExRx.net, weakness in the erector spinae increases your risk of lower back injury when you’re straightening up to a standing position or when your back is forced to stabilize your torso.

Effective Back Strengthening

For a comprehensive strengthening workout that targets the lower back, incorporate both dynamic and isometric exercises. Dynamic exercises involve forcing the lower back to perform reps of movements against resistance. Isometric training forces the lower back to hold your spine in a static position. Complete two to three lower back workouts each week. As you’re starting out, begin with body-weight exercises on an exercise mat and gradually increase workout intensity as you develop strength. Always perform five to 10 minutes of light cardio to warm up your muscles prior to exercise.

Mat Exercise

With your own body weight and an exercise mat, you can strengthen your lower back with supermans. To perform supermans, lie on your stomach on the mat, with your arms extended overhead as if you were pretending to fly. Simultaneously lift your arms at the shoulders and your legs at the hips a couple of inches off the floor and then lower them back down. Complete two sets of 12 reps.

A More Advanced Hyperextension Exercise

If you have access to a gym, you can use a hyperextension apparatus to perform back extensions. Position yourself in the apparatus so that your thighs are lying atop the unit with your lower legs positioned against the pads. Depending on the unit, you’ll be lying completely prone or positioned at 45 degrees. Cross your arms at your chest and bend forward at the waist, lowering your head toward the floor. Rise back up until your torso is in line with your thighs to complete the rep. Once you’re comfortable completing two sets of 15, increase the intensity of the exercise by holding a 10-pound plate against your chest.

Barbell Strengthening Exercises

The barbell stiff-leg Romanian deadlift is a more advanced exercise for strengthening a weak lower back. To perform stiff-leg deadlifts, set your feet to shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell down in front of your thighs with your hands set to hip-width apart. Keep your knees primarily straight as you push your hips back and bend forward at the waist, lowering the barbell toward your feet. Extend back up to a full standing position. If you keep your back straight throughout the exercise, your lower back will work isometrically. If you allow your back to roll forward, you’ll work your lower back dynamically.

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