5 best lower back exercises to get a stronger lower back without pain

Best lower back exercises to achieve a strong and healthy lower back (Image via Unsplash/John Arano)
Best lower back exercises to achieve a strong and healthy lower back (Image via Unsplash/John Arano)

Our lower back muscles — the ones located deep within your trunk and the ones that support your spine — are often ignored by everyone, including many fitness trainers.

To achieve a strong and healthy lower back, you'll need to strengthen your core muscles. In particular, the lower abdominal oblique muscles, located above each hip bone, are important because they work synergistically with the rectus abdominis — the muscle group that gets most of the criticism in regards to lower back strengthening — to support the spine.

They’re actually one of your most important support systems and are responsible for keeping your spine strong and healthy. The more you train these powerful muscles, the more stable and pain-free your lower back will be.

Before we get to the five best lower back exercises, let us first briefly go over the anatomy of the lower back muscles and the benefits of strong lower back muscles.

Anatomy of lower back muscles

Just like other muscles in the body, your lower back is made up of two large groups of muscles. These are the transversospinales and erector spinae muscles. Both these groups are intrinsic muscles that sit deep within the body and are responsible for the movement of the spine.

Benefits of strong lower back muscles

Imagine being able to pick up and carry anything you need with ease. By strengthening your lower back muscles, you can do this every day.

Lower back muscles are a key muscle group for strength in the core and lower body, but they’re not superficial muscles that will make you look good. They are simply big muscles that help your back stay strong and healthy, enhancing your stability, posture, mobility, and strength.

5 best lower back exercises

We have shared some of our favorite lower back exercises, including the best ones for targeting a wide range of back muscles. This list of exercises includes some of our favorites, and they target muscles in all areas of the back.

One last note on this workout: gentle stretching isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your lower back. It can help relieve pain and bring blood flow to those muscles. However, it won’t actually improve your long-term ability to reduce muscle pain and exertion, which is what you want to focus on if you’re hoping to get rid of the bulging disks in your lower back.

Here are the five best lower back exercises, each targeting the lower back from a different angle. These exercises can be done individually or all together as a workout routine.

1) Superman

The Superman stimulates your erector spinae muscles and trains them to contract as an extensor, which is when your muscles contract to straighten the body. This exercise is particularly effective because it requires no equipment. Everyone from beginners to advanced exercisers can do it.


How to do the Superman:

  • Lie face down on the floor with both arms extended out in front of you, palms facing up.
  • Lift your legs and arms off the ground by flexing your buttocks (it is easiest to use machines or a partner to start, then go at it alone once you've mastered the movement).
  • Your lower back will have to work hard to initiate the movement and stabilize to hold the top position isometrically.

2) Bridges

Bridges is an excellent corrective lower back exercise. Using your back muscles, complete an extension as you reach the top of your range of motion. This is the best way to get a firm, toned butt and build gluteal strength.


How to do Bridges:

  • Lie on your back and place your feet on the floor or weight machine chair. Make sure it won't move. Knees and hips should both be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Lift up your torso using your hips, glutes, and lower back muscles.
  • Bring your hips back down to the ground with control.

3) Side Plank

Side planks are known for their intense exercise. People who hate them claim that it can be a brutal workout, but those who dominate them report experiencing miraculous results.


They train almost every muscle from head to toe, including the lower back muscles surrounding the spine. Maintaining your spine's neutral posture is a function of the muscles surrounding it.

How to do Side Plank:

  • Lie on your left or right side(s) with your knees straight and both elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Propping up on your opposite arm, raise the other to a perpendicular position facing the ceiling.
  • Focus on your core and raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from ankles to shoulders.

4) Dead Lift

Deadlifts are a great lower back exercise for building strength in the muscles of your hips, legs, and glutes. However, they also build strength in your lower back. When done correctly, you should be able to maintain a rigid torso throughout the move. You’ll also feel a concentric contraction — a muscle contraction that occurs at the point of maximum voluntary tension — as you reach a vertical position. These lifts will also work the entire core region of the body: your abs and lower back muscles in particular.


How to do Dead Lift:

  • Set the barbell up in the squat rack either above or below the knees and grab a barbell with an overhand shoulder-width grip and squeeze your armpits together.
  • Squat down until your knees are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest up and shoulders back.
  • Then stand back up, completing each rep by pressing through your heels.

5) Kettlebell swing

Swinging kettlebells is similar to deadlifting. You’ll use your lower back and hip muscles to stabilize your upper body as you move using the kettlebell. The swing forces you to use your hips as an engine, so it’s great for building endurance and fostering athleticism. And because it uses the hip muscles, it’s a good way to condition your lower back.


How to do Kettlebell Swing:

  • Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart and with the kettlebell on the floor at your side.
  • Bend your knees and grab the kettlebell behind you. Tilt your hips and push your butt backward. Ensuring that you keep your chest and back straight.
  • As you straighten your knees, thrust your hips forward with the kettlebell at shoulder level.
  • Breathe smoothly as you do so, and keep those elbows out for balance.

Your lower back muscles are used every day, whether you're lifting a heavy laundry basket, swinging a baseball bat, or grabbing an item off the high shelf, so strengthening your lower back muscles is important in everyday fitness.

To help strengthen your lower back muscles, make lower-back workouts part of your regular fitness routine. Deadlifts, squats, and back extensions are just a few exercises that can help strengthen your lower back.

Avoid injuries by warming up, using light weights, and practicing proper form.

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