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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How To Strengthen Your Lower Back Muscles & Why it Matters

How To Strengthen Your Lower Back Muscles & Why it Matters

Reading Time: 5 minutes 49 seconds


DATE: 2022-01-14

Lower back strength is so important to overall health and fitness. The muscles of the lower back make up your core, the stabilizer of the body. Every movement you make relies on the core.

Before starting a back strengthening routine for your client, they must talk to their doctor before making any changes to an exercise routine. Once they get the go-ahead for a lower back strength plan, you can get started.

Here’s what you need to know about why building back strength is important, how to do it safely, and the best exercises to target.

Why Worry About Low Back Strength?

If you’re interested in being fit and healthy, you want to strengthen all the body’s muscles. Many people overlook the lower back, though. The focus of strength training is often on legs, glutes, abs, and arms.

Aside from simply having overall good fitness, there are several reasons to target the lower back when building strength:

Reduce and Prevent Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is a major complaint that many people have. Often, there is no single identifiable cause. Researchers have found that exercise is a great antidote to this kind of pain. Any type of exercise increases blood flow to the area, reducing stiffness that can cause pain.

Specifically, a mix of strength training with stretching or cardio reduces disability in people with lower back pain. A stronger lower back prevents and relieves low back pain by supporting the spine and improving posture. It also takes the pressure off other parts of the body that kick in when the back is weak.

Poor posture is a cause of pain and discomfort for many, especially those sitting at a desk all day. Try these exercises to strengthen the back and improve posture.

A Strong Core Improves Stability

Most people understand the importance of core strength. Your core supports all your movements and stabilizes the body. What not everyone realizes is that the core is more than just abdominal muscle. It’s also your lower back. Strengthen the entire core for more stable movements and ultimately less pain.

Prevent Injuries

That stability is also key in preventing or reducing the risk of injury. This is true for day-to-day activities as well as exercise. In order to get stronger doing big compound movements, like squats, you need a stable, strong core. The stronger your core, the safer and more effective your workouts will be.

Protect the Rest of Your Body

A strong lower back is important for more than just the lower back itself. A weak or injured lower back can lead to pain elsewhere, including in the hips and legs. The nerves of your lower back impact these more distant areas of the body. Weak muscles here can interfere with them and cause pain.

How Can I Strengthen My Lower Back Muscles? The Best Exercises

Try these exercises to get a client started on strengthening the all-important lower back muscles to support good posture and paint relief.


This is a good beginner move that really targets the lower back and requires only body weight. Lying on your stomach on a mat, stretch your arms out in front of you and legs behind, like Superman in flight. Raise your arms and legs off the floor. You should feel your back muscles activate. Hold it for a few seconds and release.

Until you build more strength, you may not be able to lift your limbs very far. You’ll get more range of motion as you develop strength and flexibility.

Partial Crunches

The core muscles work together, so try this move to strengthen both the abs and the lower back. For clients with existing back pain or tension, really focus on making this a partial movement, nowhere near a full sit-up. Focus on tightening the abs and pressing the lower back into the floor.

Bird Dog

This is another good exercise for an overall strong core. On hands and knees, stretch the left leg back and the right arm forward. Balance in this position, keeping the back straight and strong.

If your lower back is weak, it will want to sag during this movement. Focus on keeping it up and straight to really work those low back muscle groups. Repeat with the opposite leg and arm.

Straight Leg Deadlifts

Also known as a Romanian deadlift, this move really targets the lower back if you do it right. Correct form is essential to doing this safely and effectively. Emphasize and work on form with clients before adding weight.

When doing a deadlift to strengthen the lower back, really focus on those muscles as you lift. Keep the back as straight as possible as you lower down and rise back up to standing. The spine should not curve during this movement.

Leg Lifts

Don’t try this exercise until you have developed some muscle strength in the lower back. It is a challenging move that really targets these muscles as well as abdominals. Start with a small movement, lying on your back, arms at your sides, and legs straight. Lift the legs, keeping them straight, off the floor just a couple of inches. Hold and release. Increase the movement as you get stronger.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How To Strengthen Your Lower Back Muscles & Why it Matters, Knee to Chest

Don’t Forget to Stretch

Especially for clients with lower back pain and tension, stretching is as important as strengthening. Try a gentle stretch routine after a workout and that your clients can use throughout the day to relieve pain:

  • Knee-to-chest. Lying on your back, pull your left knee toward your chest. Hold the leg against the chest to get a stretch in the lower back. Repeat with the other leg.

  • Rotations. Also lying down, bend the knees with feet flat on the floor. Stretch the arms out to each side, perpendicular to the body. Keeping them together, drop the knees to the right and repeat on the left. Let the lower back twist while keeping the upper back and shoulders as flat and anchored to the floor as possible.

  • Pelvic tilts. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. To tilt the pelvis, arch the lower back and hold it up off the floor, then release. This is a small movement, but effective in releasing lower back muscles.

Everything is connected. To strengthen the entire posterior chain of the body, try this 30-minute workout.

Strengthen Your Back Safely

Strengthening the lower back should make you healthier and fitter while reducing pain. On the other hand, working out incorrectly can cause injury or worsen the pain. Before getting into a low back strength routine, keep safety in mind.

Can You Hurt Your Back Exercising?

Exercise is generally good for your back and should reduce pain, but it’s also possible to hurt it while working out. Don’t let the risk of injury or pain stop you or a client from exercising, but do focus on safe practices.

The primary ways you risk hurting your back during a workout include poor form and overdoing it. Incorrect form can stress or even injure muscles. Using too much weight too soon can do the same. Another potential issue is failing to warm up before starting. Going into an exercise with cold muscles can lead to an injury.

How Can I Strengthen My Lower Back Muscles Without More Pain?

Avoid the above scenarios, and almost anyone can do lower back strengthening exercises without pain or injury. When working with clients, start them slowly, with no weights and with an emphasis on correct form. Add in weights as they get stronger. Always start with a dynamic warm-up.

If you have a client with existing back pain or an injury, they must talk to their doctor before making any changes to an exercise routine. Be sure they get the go-ahead for a lower back strength plan before you get started. Of course, with anyone, stop a workout immediately if it causes or worsens back pain.

Lower back strength is crucial for functional movement in your daily life as well as for stability and safety in workouts. Strengthening the back can help many people get relief from pain too. Do these exercises safely and with good form for the best results.

Get expert answers to this and many other fitness questions by completing the ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program. Totally online, you can complete it at your own pace and be ready to help clients within months.

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