This is my fourth post on “Home Gym With Only two Equipment”. I have started writing this series on dumbbell workouts because they’re fairly inexpensive, compact, allow you to tone every part of your body and easy to use even at home.
Click here to read my other posts published in this series:
When exercising, people do not pay much attention to their lower back muscles. The reason for that might be in the fact that the lower back is a part of the body we do not look much. But, the back is very important because that area contains muscles that are responsible for standing up and walking.
We just miss the fact that a strong lower back supports our core, reduces the risk of injury, improves our posture and helps us carry out day-to-day physical activities. Our lower back carries a heavy burden even when we aren’t doing any lifting or carrying. The back extensor muscles play a vital role in maintaining proper posture all day long.
How To Strengthen Your Lower Back With Dumbbells At Home?
There are many exercises that target entire back. But in this post we are covering the top exercises to target and tone up your lower back muscles.
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with a brisk walk or a jog before starting these exercises and always consult a doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
Few Words Of Caution
(i) If you have some health issue, we advise you to check with doctor before starting an exercise program.
(ii) Always focus on proper form and correct movements during any lower back exercise. To prevent injury, avoid rounding your lower back during exercise. Keep your spine straight during standing and squatting exercises by focusing on holding your head and chest up. When an exercise requires you to bend forward, bend from your hip sockets and feel like your back is flat.
(iii) Warming up before exercise is necessary to prevent injury. Spend five or 10 minutes doing light activities like walking, riding an exercise bike, etc. to raise your body temperature and get your blood flowing. Stretch your hamstrings and lower back with toe touching exercises either on the floor or standing up.
The dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift is a simple exercise that will build strength in your lower back, hamstrings and glutes.
(i) Grasp a pair of dumbbells and stand holding them in each hand in front of your thighs at arm’s length. Your palms should point toward you with a slight bend in your knees and your feet around shoulder width apart. This is your starting position.
(ii) Keeping the knees stationary, lower the dumbbells to over the tops of your feet by bending at the waist while keeping your back straight as possible.
(iii) Keep lowering the dumbbells until you feel a stretch on the hamstrings.
(iv) Now while engaging and squeezing through the hamstrings and glutes, begin to raise the dumbbells straight back up until you are back at the starting position.
(v) Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
(i) You must keep your eyes looking up and shoulders back at all times. As soon as you look down at the floor your back will round!
(ii) The dumbbells should stay close to your legs throughout the movement. The further the dumbbells are from your legs the more strain is on your lower back.
(iii) Try to keep your knees slightly bent during the movement but stationery throughout the movement.
(iv) During the descent, keep your weight back on the heels to protect your lower back. Do not allow your weight to shift forward onto the toes. If you find the your weight on the toes when at the bottom position of the exercise, you are performing it incorrectly.
(v) Do not relax at the bottom of the movement. Keep your legs, back and abdominals tight as you begin the ascent.
(vi) Keep the rep timing slow and control the weight, especially when lowering.
(vii) One of the gravest mistakes people make when doing this exercise is bending over at the waist without moving the hips back. Instead of being supported by the large hamstring muscles, the weight is now placed almost entirely on the lower spine. This puts your back at great risk for injury.
Note: If you keep the weight close to your legs your hips with naturally move back.
(viii) Technique is very critical with this exercise. If you’re just starting out, stand with your side to a mirror with a very lightweight and practice the movement. Once you get the technique perfected you’ll be able to increase weight and start building strong lower back and some killer hams and glutes!
(ix) Avoid jerking motions. Doing too much weight can injure your back.
Caution: This exercise is not recommended for people with lower back problems.
Dumbbell Front Squats
The dumbbell front squat is a multi-joint, lower-body strength exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The dumbbell front squat also improves balance and stability throughout the core and on both sides of the body.
(i) Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out 10-30°. Hold a pair of light dumbbells down by your sides. Clean the dumbbells up to your shoulders so that end or side (as per your choice) of each dumbbell rests on top of each shoulder. Balance the dumbbells on your shoulder by holding on to dumbbells with elbows facing forward or flaring outward. This will be your starting position.
(ii) Squat down by bending your knees & pushing hips back. Keep your head facing forward, back straight, upper arms parallel to the floor and chest high. Allow your knees to come forward slightly, but not beyond your toes and maintaining them pointed in the same direction as your feet. Descend until your thighs are at parallel, or just past parallel to floor.
(iii) Pause at the bottom, and then drive your heels into the floor to return back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
(i) Make sure you keep your elbows high and not allow them to drop.
(ii) Do not let your knees go beyond your toes.
(i) Stand with your feet hip-width apart and pointing straight ahead while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Draw your navel in toward your spine, and contract your abdomen to stabilize your spine.
(ii) Bend your arms and draw the dumbbells up to your shoulders. The weights should be held at the shoulder level with the palms facing you.
(iii) Keep your legs straight and your back flat as you hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso parallel to the floor while keeping the dumbbells glued to your shoulders. Pause for one count.
(iv) Return to the starting position without releasing your abdominals. Pause briefly and repeat for your desired number of reps.
This exercise will give you a stronger back because it targets the erector spinae, a group of muscles that extend from the base of the skull to the sacrum.
As you age, it’s common to experience back pain. Structures in the back degenerate, and the effects of gravity, desk jobs and a sedentary lifestyle can take their toll. Even if you’re very active, the lower back is often neglected in average fitness routines. Strengthening the lower back with the Superman exercise builds support and stability for the spine, and it can also prevent and reduce back pain. Among body weight exercises the Superman exercise is one of the best for training the erector spinae muscles.
(i) Lie on an exercise mat on your stomach. Bring your legs together and extend your arms overhead so your biceps are alongside your ears.
(ii) Using the muscles of your back with a little help from your glutes, raise your legs and torso off the ground. Keep your legs straight and reach your fingertips away from you.
(iii) Hold at the top of the exercise for five counts. Lower back down to the ground with control. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions.
Variation – Contralateral Superman
In this version, you have to lift one leg and arm at a time instead of both together.
(i) Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat with your legs together. Extend your arms overhead.
(ii) Using your back muscles, lift your right arm and your left leg off the ground. Hold for a second at the top, and then lower your right arm and left leg.
(iii) Next repetition, lift your left arm and right leg. Continue to alternate for a total of 20 repetitions.
(i) Ensure to use a slow and controlled motion for this exercise – no jerking.
(ii) Keep your neck long and in line with your spine.
Watch this video to learn how to do Superman Exercise using proper form & the right technique:
Sets and Reps
Begin your dumbbell lower back exercises using light weights and concentrate on form until you master the move. Then increase the weight in small increments. Start with single sets of each 10 reps for each exercise and build up to three sets of 10 to 15 reps.