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How can I strengthen my lower back?

There are several good exercises to strengthen the lower back. One is called a Ball Cobra. You can use a physio-ball (inflated ball sold at most department stores). Lay on the ball so you are facing the floor and the ball is against your lower stomach/upper thighs. Keep your arms parallel to your trunk with your palms facing the ceiling. Slowly raise your upper body off of the ball about 5-6 inches keeping your head in a neutral position. Hold for about 1-2 seconds and slowly return to the ball. If you don't have a ball you can lie on the ground keeping the head in a neutral position and feet against the wall. Do 2 sets of 15 reps for the best results.
The low back is part of the area of the body known typically as the “core” musculature which helps stabilize and control the spine and pelvis, which is your body’s base of support. To strengthen the low back you must focus on exercises that strengthen the backs' ability to stabilize and extend the spine as well as stabilize the pelvis.  Isolation holds like the prone iso ab (plank) will help strengthen the low backs' ability to keep the spine and pelvis stable.  Strength movements like the cobra and ball cobra will make your low back better at extending the low back. To perform a ball cobra lay on the ball so you are facing the floor, and the ball is against your lower stomach/upper thighs. Keep your arms parallel to your trunk with your palms facing the ceiling. Steadily raise your upper body off of the ball about 5-6 inches keeping your head in a neutral position. Hold for about 1-2 seconds and slowly return to the ball. If you do not have a ball, perform the same motion while lying flat on the floor. 

The best way to strengthen your lower back is to look at the lower back as part of a larger system which constitutes the core musculature. The reason we point to the core as part of the entire lower back picture is that a lot of the time when people say they want their lower back stronger they say this because of some form of chronic low back pain. Very often chronic low back pain can be reduced or eliminated by looking at the core as a whole. If this is the case for you focus on developing an entire core program and this will not only strengthen your lower back but stabilize the whole area thereby reducing many types of aches and pains that lead people to ask how to get their low back stronger.

If you are asking though simply because you need to get your low back stronger and none of what I stated above really applies to you then there are many exercises that can strengthen the low back specifically. These would include back extensions from what we know as a roman chair, various forms of mat exercises like "superman", "cobra", etc. and many types of traditional back exercises where the lower back works as a stabilizing force like a lat pull down, a standing cable row, or a seated row where the chest is not stabilized.

Lie on your stomach and interweave your hands underneath your forehead. With your legs on the ground, squeeze your butt and lift your armpits as high as you can 25x. Focus on using only your lower back. Then hold up at the highest point and lift your knees 25x, then do both at the same time 25x. The entire time your neck should be relaxed. Before doing anything else be sure and stretch your back. Cat and cow are ideal.
Lie on your stomach with your arms straight out in front of you. Lift your right leg and your left arm off the floor as high as you can and hold for 5 sec. rest them back on the floor and lift the left leg and right arm off the floor and hold for 5 sec. repeat on each side 15x. Make sure you are breathing during the entire exercise and focus on using the muscles in your lower back to lift your legs and arms off the floor. Once you have completed the exercise roll over to your back and pull your knees into your chest one at a time and then both together to stretch. Hold each stretch 20-30 seconds.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.