Dumbbell Exercises for Lower Back

Weak lower back muscles often result in pain and discomfort after standing or carrying objects. Dumbbells are generally used to work the muscles of your arms and legs, but also to strengthen the lower back. If your doctor gives you her nod of approval, keep these muscles strong by performing two to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of dumbbell exercises on three nonconsecutive days a week.

A woman is exercising with dumbbells. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

This exercise contracts the deep spinal muscles on either side of your spinal column. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, tilt your tailbone back to keep your spine straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Contract your abdominal muscles and stabilize your spine. Keeping your back and legs straight, bend forward at your hips to lower the weights toward the floor with your arms extended. Continue down as far as possible, then contract your back and gluteal muscles to return to the standing position. To increase the intensity of the exercise, stand on a box so you can lower the weights past your toes.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell deadlifts work not only your lower back, but also several leg and hip muscles. Place two dumbbells on the floor and stand between them with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and hips to lower down until your thighs become parallel with the floor. Tilt your tailbone back to keep your spine straight. With your arms extended, grasp the dumbbells with your palms facing in. Brace your abdominal and spinal muscles and push your chest out slightly. Press through your heels to lift the weights by extending your knees and hips to come to a full standing position. Pause at the top of the movement then slowly lower back to the starting position.

Good Mornings

This exercise develops the spinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum of the lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, tilt your tailbone back to keep your spine straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your arms to lift the weights to shoulder level, resting them on your shoulders, if possible. Contract your abdominal muscles and stabilize your back. Keeping your back and legs straight, slowly bend forward at your waist as far as possible or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Contract your gluteal muscles and lower back to return to the standing position.


Form is vital to preventing lower back injury and injury can occur quickly if trying to move too much weight too soon. Use slow and controlled movements rather than speed and momentum; and warm up and stretch prior to any lower back exercises.

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