How To Strengthen The Lower Back Muscles
The lower back muscles are the most commonly injured amongst bodybuilders and people who lift weights regularly. Talk to anyone who has been lifting weights for a long time and it is highly likely they will have experienced a lower back injury at some point. I hurt my lower back many years ago from deadlifting. Therefore strengthening the lower back and keeping it healthy is something that I focus on a lot in my training. In this article I will share how to strengthen the lower back muscles and keep your lower back healthy. A strong and healthy lower back is one of the best assets you can have in life. Lower back pain can have serious negative effects on your overall quality of life.
Best Exercise To Bulletproof The Lower Back
From my experience the best exercise you can do to bulletproof the lower back and make it stronger is 45 degree weighted back extensions. As the name suggests you would do this on a 45 degree back extension bench. Not all gyms have this, but the majority should. If your gym doesn’t have one then ask the owner to buy one, it really is an essential piece of equipment in my view.
Pete Rubish who is a well known powerlifter also advocates this movement for strengthening the lower back. It must also be noted there is no reason to go ridiculously heavy on this exercise. You can just use dumbbells and work up to sets of 12, when 12 reps are too easy you can increase the reps. Then you can move up to heavier dumbbells. Alternatively you can use a barbell. For bodybuilding purposes I would recommend sets of 10-12 reps as a base to shoot for with this exercise, you can go up to as high as 20 reps if you want. Pictured below is what the starting position of this exercise looks like, you want to adjust the pad so that your hips are squarely on the pad in a fairly high position. You don’t want to start with your hips low on the pad.
Good Mornings are another great exercise to hammer the lower back muscles and strengthen them. It is where you put a standard olympic barbell on your back or you can use a safety squat bar. You unlock the knees slightly and bend over at the waist maintaining back extension. You then come back up and repeat this movement for the desired reps. I must say that you shouldn’t go too heavy on this exercise as the risk to reward ratio is not in your favour. Be sure to only go down as low as you can maintain proper extension in your lower back. This is very important to prevent injuries and get the most out of the movement.
This exercise is better performed with lighter to medium weights and a focus on quality reps and volume. You will feel insane lower back pumps from doing it. Consistent use of this movement over time will definitely help to strengthen the lower back muscles.
Suitcase carries are another great exercise which will help to relieve any lower back pain you may have and turn on the Transverse Abdominis Muscles (TVA). These muscles attach to the anterior lumbar spine. A suitcase carry is like a farmers walk but you only have an implement in one hand. This is a great exercise to keep your lower back healthy when done consistently over time. i would recommend performing this exercise with dumbbells and using it as a finishing move in your workouts.
Leg Curls To Keep Your Lower Back Healthy
Whilst leg curls won’t directly make your lower back stronger, they are an essential exercise to do consistently in your training to keep your lower back healthy. This is why I am mentioning leg curls in this article. A lot of people have very tight hamstrings and this can end up causing lower back pain. In my own training I like to perform lying leg curls twice a week, one day I work up to a set of 12 reps and hold the end contraction for two seconds on each rep. Another day I perform an AMRAP set to failure with the same weight on the leg curl as I did for the two second holds on each rep. However, on the second day I will get much higher reps as I am not pausing and holding the end contraction. If you have access to a seated leg curl machine as well then you could perform seated leg curls one day and lying leg curls another day. This would allow you to hit the hamstrings from many different angles. It is also possible to perform hamstring curls using resistance bands. Sit on a bench and hook the resistance bands to a pillar in front of you, position your feet inside the bands and perform seated leg curls.
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To conclude, in this article I have detailed methods on how to strengthen the lower back muscles. Strong lower back muscles are important not only in weight training but also in daily life. Many people suffer from lower back pain and thus it is very important to work on strengthening the lower back. The exercises I have talked about in this article will help you keep your back healthy long term and make it stronger.
It is important as well to listen to your body. Don’t perform movements which result in you experiencing a lot of pain. If a movement is not suited to your body then discard it and perform a different movement. I would love to hear from you about your experiences with lower back pain and what you have done to resolve them in your training. Please leave comments below. If you have any questions about anything I have written in this article don’t hesitate to let me know them. As always, enjoy your training!