Back strength is your ticket to proper posture, better balance, improved sports performance, and safer movement. When people discuss the importance of a strong core, they tend to obsess about the abs, but strength in your back is equally crucial. Strong back muscles are the power behind so much of what you do.
We’ve assembled a list of the best exercises to strengthen and support your back. Read through the list to learn how to strengthen the lower back and other core muscles. We suggest using these back strengthening exercises to protect from injury, improve posture and gait, and increase movement efficiency.
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1. Back Extensions – Strengthen your back and help relieve back pain also
Your back muscles are a part of your body’s main powerhouse and are used for everything from bending and twisting to maintaining healthy posture. Back extensions are one of the best exercises to strengthen and support your back.
Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your toes tucked under. If necessary, place a folded towel under your hip bones to prevent rubbing and discomfort. Place your hands behind your head or under your chin, lightly interlocking your fingers and opening your elbows to the side.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, aiming to create space between your stomach and the floor. Breathe in through your nose, and slowly raise your upper back off the floor, breathing out through your mouth as you rise. Be aware of the feeling in your lower back. As the muscles of the lower back engage, aim for a lengthening, not a crunching, sensation. Keep your eyes focused on the floor slightly in front of you. Hold the position for five slow counts, and then gently lower your chest to the floor, breathing in as your torso descends.
Repeat the exercise slowly and deliberately for a total of 10 to 12 times. Depending on your fitness level, you should repeat the set for a total of two or three times. Aim to keep your legs on the ground for the duration of the exercise, and avoid holding your breath.
2. Planks – Miranda Kerr Inspired back exercise
Miranda Kerr – the Victoria Secret model once said she maintains her trim figure by doing planks for 10 minutes! – Well, you may not need to do 10 minutes but planks do help!.
Strong back muscles offer critical support for your spine, which translates into greater stability. When developing your strength routine, incorporate planks, which are considered excellent back strengthening exercises to protect from injury.
Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your toes tucked under. Place the palms of your hands and your forearms on the floor, ensuring that your elbows are positioned directly under your shoulders. Squeeze your abdominal muscles, straighten your knees, and tighten your gluteal muscles as you raise your hips off the floor. Your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should form a straight line. Focus on the floor slightly in front of you, and breathe at regular intervals while keeping the shoulder, back, stomach, hip and butt muscles fully engaged.
Maintain a straight position for 30 seconds, if possible. Don’t allow your hips to drop and your back to sag. Losing your form in this way can put excessive strain on the lower back. If you have trouble maintaining a straight spine, try putting more distance between your feet.
Slowly lower your hips, knees, and chest to the floor, and then rest briefly. Repeat the exercise for a total of three or four times. As your strength improves, you can gradually increase the amount of time you hold the plank, or you can try a more advanced plank variation.
3. Torso Twists – Back Core strength and Conditioning
Back exercises such as the torso twist can help with conditioning, as well as rehabilitation, of the back.
Begin in a sitting position on the floor with your fingers interlocked behind your head or your arms crossed on your chest. Extend your legs in front of you, and bend your knees slightly so your heels are resting on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles to brace your back, and, keeping your spine straight, lean your entire torso back slightly. From this position, twist your torso slightly to the right and then to the left. Continue twisting back and forth slowly, making sure to keep your chin level and your abdominals engaged. Complete six to eight rotations to each side, breathing evenly throughout the exercise.
Variation: To increase the challenge, grasp a weight with both hands, holding it close to your chest while you twist.
4. 90-Degree Leg Slides – engage Back and abdominal muscles for overall strength
Good for rehab from injury and general conditioning, 90-degree legs slides boost back and overall core strength.
Lie on your back with your feet extended in front of you and your pelvis in a neutral position with respect to the floor. Relax your arms at your sides, or place your fingertips lightly on your hip bones. Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your knees to form a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor, and your lower legs should be parallel to the floor. Extend your right knee and slowly draw the leg toward the floor, stopping when you feel your back and abdominal muscles engage. Return the leg to its initial 90-degree position and maintain tightness in the core while you repeat with your left leg.
Continue alternating your legs for a total of six to eight repetitions per side. Breathe normally throughout the exercise.
5. Hip Bridges and Variations
Hip bridges and their many variations are a classic and highly popular means to strengthen the lower back and improve core stability.
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent toward the ceiling and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Relax your arms on the floor along your sides. Pressing your heels into the floor, tighten your gluteal muscles, and raise your hips toward the ceiling. Continue lifting until your knees, hips and shoulders are aligned. Hold the position for two to five seconds, and then slowly lower your hips to the start position. Repeat the hip bridges 10 to 15 times for a total of one to three sets.
Variation 1: Single-Leg Hip Bridges
To increase the challenge, perform hip bridges with one leg extended toward the ceiling. Ensure that your hips remain level at all times. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions, switch legs, and repeat.
Variation 2: Marching Hip Bridges
Move into a standard bridge position. Maintain tightness of the back, abdominals and glutes as you lift the right knee toward 90 degrees. Pause when your lower leg is parallel to the ceiling. Return the right foot to the floor and repeat the lift with your left leg. Continue “marching” for four to eight repetitions, being careful to keep your core stable.
Back health and strength Exercise Conclusion:
Exercise and a sensible lifestyle are critical for maintaining back health. As you consider how to strengthen the lower back and increase your core stability, respect your current limitations. Be prepared to modify exercises when necessary. Most importantly, be consistent with your workouts. Taking time to build your back strength is one of the best things you can do for your health, mobility, and quality of life.