Weight Training Exercises for Your Lower Back
by Heather Wilson
A strong lower back makes everyday tasks like carrying kids or groceries manageable. Having a strong core is also beneficial when playing sports, running, cycling and weight-training. The lower back is often neglected until we feel pain. Performing weight-training exercises for your lower back can help prevent injuries caused by muscle weakness and inflexibility. For each exercise start out with a light weight and gradually work up. Do one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at least once a week.
Machine Back Extension
Sit in the machine with your upper back and hips in contact with the machine's pads. Adjust the seat so that your hips are in line with the axis of the machine. Lean backwards, keeping the upper back in contact with the pads and your feet flat on the foot platform or floor. Pause briefly before slowly leaning forward to return to the starting position. Be sure to use the lower back muscles to push the weight, not your legs.
Back Hyperextension on a Stability Ball
Lie on a stability ball with your bellybutton in the center of the ball. Place your toes on the floor about a foot apart. Your legs will be fully extended. Lightly clasp your hands behind the head or fold them across your chest. As you exhale lift your upper torso towards the ceiling until your back gently arches. Lower your torso to return to the starting position. Your toes should maintain contact with the floor and your bellybutton should stay on the center of the ball throughout the movement. Keep your movements slow and controlled, not fast or jerky. Be careful not to pull on your head or neck with your hands.
Body Weight Back Extension on the Floor
Lie on your belly with your legs fully extended and your toes pointed towards the floor. Gently clasp your hands behind your head or fold them across your chest. As you exhale arch your back to lift your chest off of the floor. Slowly and with control lower your chest to return to the starting position. Your toes and hips should remain in contact with the floor throughout the movement. Be careful not to pull on your head or neck with your hands.
Bend your knees to grasp a barbell (two dumbbells can also be used) with a grip that is just outside of your hips. Come to a standing position. Keeping your knees slightly bent, your back straight, and your head up, slowly lower the weight toward the floor, touching if you can. Maintaining bent knees and a straight back, return to the starting position slowly and controlled. Never lift with a rounded back and your head down; this will compress the spine and could cause injury.