7 Great Beginner Exercises for the Lower Back

A lot of people have back problems in the United States. It’s best to seek medical guidance before you do any back exercises as it could make problems worse for you. Otherwise, I am putting together seven great exercises for those who are looking to get a bit more strength and endurance from one of the most utilized groups of muscles in the body. Many of these are quite simple and can be done virtually anywhere.




What Can You Do to Strengthen your Back?

Back exercises will contribute in many different aspects of your life. For example, the muscles in your back are flexed whether you’re doing landscaping or simply putting a jug of milk in the fridge. Here are seven of my favorite exercises that nearly anyone can do. Just remember to pace yourself. Pushing your limits is one thing, but you can severely hurt yourself by going too far.

Bird Dog

The Bird Dog is an incredible beginner exercise for the back as it works on much more than one muscle group. It puts more emphasis on your lower back, but the exercise as a whole will do a great deal for your legs and core muscles.

You do the Bird Dog by getting down on your hands and knees with your arms about shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders in this position. Now, tighten your core muscles while raising your left arm up and out while lifting your right leg at the same time. Once your arm and leg are in line with your body, return them to the starting position and raise your right arm and left leg in the same fashion. Each alternation is considered one repetition. This exercise works on:

  • Lower back
  • Traps
  • Shoulders
  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Lying Bird Dog

In the Lying Bird Dog, you’re essentially working on the exact same muscle groups as in the original Bird Dog. However, this may be more comfortable on those who have knee problems or cannot otherwise get down on all fours. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a workout for your lower back.

To do this exercise, you lay on the floor face down in the prone position. While laying, lift your right arm and your left leg as high as you can simultaneously. Hold it for a brief moment and return them to the starting position. Now, lift your left arm and right leg in the same manner. This is considered a single repetition. If you’ve done the Bird Dog in the past, you’ll notice there is far less stress put onto your knees in this exercise. The Lying Bird Dog works on:

  • Lower back
  • Traps
  • Shoulders
  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Superman

In the future, I plan on putting together a list of exercises for the super hero as there are so many to choose from. The Superman concentrates effort on your lower back while firming up the glutes and hamstrings. To a lesser degree, you may even feel it in your shoulders and traps.

To do the Superman, you lay flat face down on the floor with your arms and legs extended. You want your hands to be above your head because, you guessed it, that’s how Superman flies. Anyway, lift your arms, legs and chest off the floor for as long as you can. This back exercise is intended for duration, not repetition. However, many people will modify the workout by doing a two-second lift in order to make it repetition-based. If you’d rather do repetitions instead of total time, then that is up to you. This exercise works the:

  • Lower back
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Abs

Prone Cobra

A Prone Cobra is similar to the Superman in almost every way. It is an exercise that is based in total time. However, it can be easily modified by holding the position for a few seconds at a time to count as a repetition.

You perform the Prone Cobra by laying face down on the floor with your legs straight together and arms at your sides. Lift your legs, chest and arms off the ground with your arms still behind you. Now, rotate your arms so that your thumbs are pointing up at the ceiling. You should feel the muscles in your arms stretch while doing this. This can help loosen your arms for future activities – at least, it does for me. The Prone Cobra works on firming:

  • Lower back
  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Swim Kick

This is another back exercise that puts you face down on the floor. The Swim Kick is one of the easiest exercises in this list and can be done virtually anywhere you have room to lay down. This exercise focuses more on duration rather than repetition, but it can be modified if you choose. Just remember that constant flexing is where a lot of muscle work is performed.

You do the Swim Kick by laying down on your stomach and resting your chin on your hands. Lift both legs slightly off of the ground. Now, gently kick as if you were actually swimming without your legs or feet touching the ground. Do this for as long as you can. The sustaining your legs up and keeping them moving is what puts the work on several muscle groups. This activity strengthens:

  • Lower back
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Cobra Push-Up

Not to be confused with a Prone Cobra, this exercise works many of the similar muscle groups. Most of the exercise itself is concentrated on the lower back, but it also contributes to firming the core and a few leg muscles as well. Personally, my back popped and cracked the first time I did this.

To do the Cobra Push-Up, lay on the floor face down. You want to place your hands on the outside of your shoulders as if getting ready to perform a standard push-up. While keeping the lower portion of your back against the ground, push up with your upper body. Essentially, you’re thighs should still be touching the floor. Hold this position for about five seconds. This is considered to be one repetition. This exercise works out the:

  • Lower back
  • Abs
  • Groin
  • Hip flexors

Lower Back Curl

This is another simple exercise for the back that can be quite beneficial. It’s a bit like some of the above exercises only without the use of your arms. Instead of relying on total time, this one is best done with repetitions.

To do the Lower Back Curl, lay on the floor face down with your hands at your sides. Now, lift your chest up off of the floor as far as you can while extending your spine. Lay back down on the floor – this is one repetition. It’s an incredibly easy exercise that reminds me of the “planking” fad when everyone was taking pictures of themselves laying on random objects. I bet you didn’t know there was an actual physical benefit to this activity. This exercise puts effort onto:

  • Lower back
  • Abs

These are some of my favorite exercises for strengthening the lower back. If you want some activity to go into your middle back, you may have to consider weights. I am currently looking for exercises you can do at home without machines or dumbbells to work on the middle back and lats, but there is very few that I can see. But the search will continue.

If any of these are more than you can bare, don’t push yourself too hard. The last thing you’ll want to do is throw your back out, especially if your exercising alone. Be logical with your workouts and don’t go too far beyond your abilities. You can cause more damage than benefit from over exertion.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael is a work at home father who has completed a wide assortment of writing regarding various topics. Currently, he is working to achieve a weight loss goal and improve health in order to cross the state of Colorado on bicycle.

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