Weight and Resistance Training - exercises for a weak lower back?

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09-16-2005, 06:47 PM
Hi everyone,

I've been meaning to post this question for a while now. I've been weight training for 3 years now, and lately it has become really obvious to me that my lower back is very weak compared to the rest of my body. It's very frustrating, because my lower back "gets in the way" (gets sore very quickly) when I do crunches, etc. My trainer recommended an exercise in which I lie face-down on the floor and lift my arms straight up (parallel to the floor). I've been doing this for weeks now, but haven't felt any improvement in my back -- it still starts to hurt after about 20 crunches.

I also read (goodness knows where :dizzy: ) that if all the muscles around your core aren't "equally strong" you have a really hard time getting a flat stomach, no matter how many crunches you do. Has anyone heard this?

Anyway...any tips on how to strengthen my (pathetic) lower back would be greatly appreciated :) . Oh, and FYI, I don't have an history of lower back problems or anything...and I don't sit at a desk all day, so I don't think it's poor posture and/or a "bad" chair or anything like that. I think it's just weak muscles.


09-16-2005, 07:46 PM
The first exercises that come to mind for me as far as lower back are deadlifts and hyperextensions.

In case you don't know what a hyperextension is:


I generally hold a medicine ball or a weight plate to my chest for some extra oomph but they're good even w/o the extra weight. :)

As an addition to your strength training, I would also recommend Yoga and/or Pilates.

09-16-2005, 08:19 PM
I really like the back extensions but when I work out at the house I use a stability ball for them. I brace my feet against the wall so I don't slip and roll up on the ball so it is under my hips and then do the extensions.

One more thing that has really helped me is to sit on a stability ball with a medicine ball in my hands and slowly twist from side to side holding the medicine ball level with your waist. You could use a weight plate too if you don't have a medicine ball.

Both of these were taught to me by my personal trainer.

09-17-2005, 07:12 PM
Definitely deadlifts and good mornings* - once I started doing them consistently, I could tell a big difference. You'll probably have to start w/ a really low weight, but just slowly work your way up. Also, what about pilates? It's really great for the back and all the core muscles.

* http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Hamstrings/BBGoodMorning.html has a description - you can also do them w/ a medicine ball or a dumbbell held at the back of your neck.

09-18-2005, 09:16 PM
Yep, I love hyperextensions, deadlifts and good mornings for lower back ... Working on the core muscles with a bosu ball helps a lot too ....

I find too that stretching your back with some yoga moves like the cobra, the cat stretch and the sun salutation are all good lower back strengtheners (is that a word?? )

Sir Savage
09-19-2005, 06:23 PM
One-arm snatches.

It's like the powerlift called the snatch, only using one arm at a time and using a dumbell instead of a barbell. It packs a serious wallop to the lowerback.

Plus, it works your hamstrings.

One variation of this exercise involves a sort of jumping motion to raise the dumbell over your head. Don't do it. Instead, use your hams, glutes, and lower back to raise the dumbell without a jumping motion, stopping before you reach all the way up.

09-20-2005, 08:55 PM
YO u can also do the same "superman" move, but do not do this on your knees, simply lie on your tummy and do the opposite arm and oppsite leg. This move intensifies when done with your legs kept tightly closed & keeping your forhead on the floor- you may wanna use a pillow or yoga block for head/neck support- and lifting only the arms and chest off of floor slowly and return to floor.
Take the same position and this time keep the arms extended in front of you, keep your head down or supported with a pillow, and peel both legs from the floor starting with the top of your foot, move to shins, then lift the quads. Hold the position then slowly lower.
Now one more way to do this is to again take the same position with arms extended and legs tight behind you, and slowly & simultaneously peel your arms & chset, and ankles/shins/quads from floor and hold pose. Slowly lower.
After doing moves with your back contracted like this, come to childs pose to release any tension.

edited for typing error

09-20-2005, 09:06 PM
Thank you all so much -- great links and photos! I have a stability ball at home, so I will be working with that -- and I also (LOL) kinda "forgot" how much I loved yoga when did it back in college. So I'm going to check out a yoga place in town tomorrow and probably sign up.

You guys are great! Thanks again! :D

09-20-2005, 09:30 PM
Kate- you can do all sorts of exercises on your stability ball at home. You can do the "Supermans" that firmgirl described with your stomach on the ball and lift opposing legs and arms. Hold the position for a few seconds, then change. You can also sit upright on the ball with your arms outstretched and raise one leg out straight in front of you. Hold for a few seconds, then switch legs. This works lower back gently and also works on balance.

These exercises aren't in the same class as weighted hyperextensions or deadlifts. If your back is really weak and you can't do hyperextensions, start with the ball exercises.



09-21-2005, 12:36 PM
One thing I for got to add is planks. Even though these are primarily doen for ab work they also help to strengthen the lower back.
Also you may want to incorporate more core training, and also some pilates work.

09-21-2005, 01:22 PM
2 exercises I was given in my physical therapy to build up my lower back:

1) they hyperextension one above but do it on the ball

2) lie down on your back and put your feet up on the ball (just your feet, not your calves!). Raise your butt up so your body is in a straight line. Actually, you'll be at an angle because your head and shoulders are on the ground. Hold as long as you can, lower and repeat. I was told to try to work up to 30 seconds at a time and 10 reps. This probably has a name, but i don;t know what it is - LOL!