Isometric Exercises for Lower Back

Female swimmer standing on diving board
Divers rely on isometric strength for perfect form. (Image: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images)

Isometric exercises strengthen muscles without moving your joints. Muscles in your back work isometrically throughout the day to keep you upright. These muscles can be strengthened without need for fancy equipment.

Young man shows Elbow Plank Workout, isolated on white, front view
Planks can be modified to your current fitness level. (Image: starush/iStock/Getty Images)

Front Plank

Plank exercises effectively strengthen muscles along your entire spine. These exercises can be easily progressed as your strength improves.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Prop yourself up on your forearms with your elbows positioned in line with your shoulders.

Step 2

Push your toes against the ground. Squeeze your abdominal, buttock and back muscles simultaneously and lift your body up on your toes and forearms. Do not allow your belly to drop or back to arch.

Step 3

Keep you neck in line with the rest of your spine by looking at a spot on the floor, slightly in front of your hands. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat three times.

Step 4

Progress this exercise by straightening your elbows and placing your palms on the ground.

Two young women doing yoga asana side plank. Vasisthasana
Make the side plank easier by starting on your forearm. (Image: Viktor_Gladkov/iStock/Getty Images)

Side Plank

Side plank exercises should be performed on each side of the body to target all your back muscles.

Step 1

Lie on your right side on a firm surface. Prop yourself up on your right forearm.

Step 2

Keep your knees straight and legs stacked directly on top of each other. Press down through your right elbow and the side of your right foot. Lift your body off the ground by tightening muscles in your back and abdominal area. Keep your spine straight.

Step 3

Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times on each side.

Step 4

Progress this exercise by placing your right palm on the ground, supporting your upper body with your elbow straight. You can also make side planks more difficult by reaching your opposite hand straight up toward the ceiling.

Cork, Ireland
Keep your shoulder blades on the ground to protect your neck with bridge exercises. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Bridges

Once you can perform a bridge properly, progress the exercise by adding leg movements.

Step 1

Lie on your back on a firm surface. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Rest your arms by your sides.

Step 2

Squeeze your buttocks together and tighten your back muscles. Lift your lower body off the ground as high as possible, keeping your shoulder blades on the ground.

Step 3

Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Keep your back straight throughout the movement. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets in a row.

Step 4

Progress this exercise by bridging, then slowly lifting and lowering one knee at a time as if you are marching. Lift each leg five times, then relax. Repeat 10 times.

Manager in a superman pose wearing a red cloak. Studio shot on a beige background.
The superman exercise strengthens your back muscles. (Image: Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images)

Superman

The superman exercise resembles the superhero flying in the sky. To make this exercise easier, begin by lifting either your arms or legs before you combine them together.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Stretch your arms over your head, palms facing down.

Step 2

Tighten your back, arm and leg muscles simultaneously. Lift your arms and legs off the ground until your hips and thighs are the only things touching the floor. Keep your elbows and knees straight throughout this movement.

Step 3

Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.

Cape Town, South Africa
Keep your back straight when performing quadruped exercises. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Quadruped

Quadruped exercises are performed from all fours and target your glutes, as well as your lower back.

Step 1

Position yourself on your hands and knees. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Look forward throughout this exercise.

Step 2

Tighten your back and abdominal muscles to keep your spine straight. Slowly lift your right arm straight out in front of you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then put your hand back on the ground. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3

Slowly straighten one leg out behind you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then bring your knee back down to the ground. Repeat in the other side.

Step 4

Alternately lift your arms and legs 10 times each while maintaining a straight spine.

Step 5

Progress this exercise by lifting the opposite arm and leg at the same time. Alternate sides 10 times.

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