Exercises for a Weak Lower Back

Your lower back muscles make up your body's core, along with your abdominals and obliques. A strong core helps you in everything you do, including daily activities of living and your favorite fitness activities. But the lower back muscles often get passed over in core workouts that favor abdominal toning. Give your lower back some love and protect yourself from injury by adding a few targeted low-back exercises to your workouts.

Weak lower back muscles often cause pain and fatigue. (Image: twinsterphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Supermans

So named because the position of the body during the exercise resembles Superman flying through the sky, this body weight move strengthens the entire back, as well as the glutes.

How to:

  1. Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat with your arms and legs extended in opposite directions.
  2. Keeping your arms and legs straight with no bend in the knees or elbows, slowly lift your arms, chest and legs off the mat.
  3. Contract your lower back and glute muscles, and hold the position for 2 seconds. Return to the starting position with control.
  4. Repeat for three sets of 10 repetitions.
How long can you hold it? (Image: undrey/iStock/Getty Images)

Planks

A total-core strengthener, this static hold exercise targets the abdominals, obliques and lower back.

How to:

  1. From a prone position, prop yourself up on your forearms, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Curl your toes under and lift your legs and torso off the ground.
  2. Contract your core muscles and keep your body in one straight line from your heels to your head. Do not allow your hips to pike up or sag down.
  3. Hold for as long as you can --usually 30 to 90 seconds -- then lower down.
  4. Repeat three times.

Bridges

The bridge exercise strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles with an emphasis on the lower back.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms extended alongside your body. Position your feet about hip-distance apart.
  2. Press into your feet and lift your hips off the ground until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Hold at the top for a second then slowly lower back down. Repeat for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
  4. Make the exercise more challenging by lifting and extending one leg and then the other at the top before lowering back down.

Back Extension on Stability Ball

Just like it sounds, this exercise works your back in extension, which is the movement that occurs when you bend backwards. You'll need a stability ball and a sturdy wall.

How to:

  1. Lie prone on a stability ball with the ball positioned under your torso. Place your feet flat against the base of the wall.
  2. Place your hands on the ball beside your hips for added stability, or clasp them behind your hips.
  3. Keeping a slight bend in your knees, curl your torso off the ball, hyperextending the spine. Return to the starting position.
  4. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

Bent-Knee Good Morning

Performing good mornings with bent knees emphasizes the lower back. The tighter your hamstrings, the more you will have to keep your knees bent to avoid rounding your spine. You will need a weighted bar for this exercise, however, you should start with a very light weight and gradually progress.

How to:

  1. Position the bar across across the backs of your shoulders with your hands at a comfortable distance -- not too close to your shoulders but not too far away.
  2. Assume an athletic stance with knees slightly bent. Contract your core muscles.
  3. Keeping your spine straight, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor. Bend your knees as much as necessary to keep your back from rounding.
  4. Raise your torso back up until the hips are fully extended.
  5. Repeat for three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
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