While lower back muscles play an important role in building a well-rounded physique for men, the lower back is one of the most vulnerable body parts to injure. I have seen many guys who just to show off push more weight than their bodies can handle. And if done in a bad form, it’s a sure shot way to a weightlifting related injury.
To prevent lower back injuries, you need to have strong lower back muscles. If you want to strengthen them consider including the following lower back isolation exercises into your workout routine.
The Best Lower Back Strengthening Exercises For Men
If you’re new to strength or resistance training, begin with the prone back extension moves. They are safe exercises as they do not involve any weight and focus on your lower back muscles. Then gradually take up the more advanced exercises such as the back hyperextension, good morning, kettlebell swing and stiff-leg deadlift, as mentioned hereunder. They allow you to keep adding weight so that you can continue your journey strengthening you lower back more and more.
Note: Remember that as a man you can recover from weight-training sessions somewhat sooner than a female, so you can do these exercises more frequently.
Prone Back Extension
If you’re just beginning to work on lower back exercises, this one is a good exercise to start with, as it doesn’t involve too much resistance.
(i) Lie flat on your stomach, your arms straight down by your sides with your palms facing upward and your toes touching the ground.
(ii) Raise slowly your head, shoulders, and breast-bone off of the mat – as high as you can, using your lower back muscles. Hold at the top for a second.
(iii) Return to the starting position (back down to the mat) and repeat.
Perform 3-4 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
For this you need hyperextension bench/machine. Begin with your body weight and, if you find it too easy, you may hold a dumbbell or weight plate while doing the exercise.
(i) Plant your feet in hyperextension machine. Lie face down, with the pads against your upper thighs.
(ii) Fold your arms across your chest (or place behind your head).
(iii) Lean forwards slowly at the waist as far as you can while maintaining your back flat.
(iv) Continue leaning forward, without rounding your back, until you feel a slight stretch on the hamstrings and you can no more keep going without a rounding of the back.
(v) Slowly raise your torso back to the starting position using your lower back muscles, but without arching your back.
Perform 3-4 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Strengthen Your Back With Good Morning With Barbell!
(i) Set up a barbell (with weight that you can handle) on a rack at a height that suits your height.
(ii) Step under the bar with your knees bent a little bit and position the barbell across the back of your shoulders, slightly below the neck.
(iii) Hold the barbell in place using both hands at each side. Lift it off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso, core braced and shoulders retracted.
(iv) Step away from the rack and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
(v) Take a breath and hinge your torso forward at your hips (not from your waist), allowing just a slight bend in your knees. Make sure to maintain your back flat all through the movement. You can lean forward until you feel a little bit stretch in your hamstrings (but don’t lower your torso beyond horizontal).
(vi) Reverse your torso back to the starting position.
Tips For Maintaining Proper Good Morning Form
(i) Maintain a neutral spine all through the movement by looking forward as you stand and toward the floor as you lean forward. Avoid craning your neck as you lower your core to horizontal.
(ii) Push your hips back to keep balance and drive them forward to initiate the force while returning to standing position.
(iii) Maintain a tight grip on the bar, securing it onto the soft muscle of your shoulders while you lean forwards in order to not put any pressure on your neck.
Perform 3 to 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Good Morning With Dumbbells
You can use two dumbbells instead of barbell, but keeping the movement and the form almost the same as the above.
(i) Stand and grab a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart, pointing straight ahead and knees slightly bent.
(ii) While contracting your abdomen muscles to stabilize your spine, draw in your navel toward your spine.
(iii) Bend your arms and draw the dumbbells upward to your your shoulders. Maintain your elbows wide with your both palms facing either forward or toward you.
(iv) Without changing the bend in your knees, keeping your legs straight and your back flat, hinge forward from your hips & lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. All through the movement keep dumbbells glued to your shoulders.
(v) Pause for one count, and return to the starting position. That’s one repetition.
Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Note: Don’t let your lower back to round the exercise movement.
Kettlebell swings engage your lower back dynamically because of the swinging motion. It also improves strength in the glutes, hamstrings and quads.
(i) Start with a kettlebell lying on the floor a foot ahead in front of you. While driving your butt back, lower yourself down and grasp the kettlebell with both hands.
(ii) Stand up tall with your feet positioned slightly wider than your hips while holding the kettlebell down between your legs.
(iii) Bend forward at the waist to lower the kettlebell toward the floor.
(iv) Using your glutes, extend your hips, back and knees to swing the kettlebell up in front of you, until your arms are parallel to the ground. Then, swing the bell back down between your legs while driving your butt back and bending your knees. Go right into the next repetition, repeating the movement. Make sure to keep your back straight during the exercise.
Perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
(i) Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width stance holding a loaded barbell in front of your thighs using an overhand, shoulder-width grip (palms facing you).
(ii) Keep your knees locked and slightly bent while performing this exercise.
(iii) Bend at your hips and lower the barbell toward the floor, keeping your elbows locked out and back straight. Lower weight down your legs and go down as low as you can without rounding your back. Pause briefly and then slowly straighten back up.
(i) Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement and avoid bouncy movements – keep the movement slow and controlled.
(ii) Look straight forward when you are coming up and going back down. This will help you to keep your lower back straight and flat.
Stiff-Leg Deadlift With Dumbbells
You can use two dumbbells instead of barbell, but keeping the movement and the form same as the above. Using dumbbells can enhance your range of motion and will help even out any imbalances in the muscles on either side of your body.
Perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps
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