Lower Back Exercises - Strengthen & Sculpt the Lower Back
In my experience, lower back exercises are the most neglected and overlooked by bodybuilders.
While the lower back muscles constitute a very small area compared to other muscle groups, their importance should not be underestimated.
You will rely on the strength of your lower back for other lifts such as squats and calve raises. If your lower back is underdeveloped, you will limit the amount of resistance you can use while performing these other exercises and will significantly hinder your strength and muscle building progress.
The muscles of the lower back are used to uphold the entire torso and have a large affect on your posture. Strengthening your lower back while you are younger will also pay dividends as you get older and your risk of back problems is greater.
Now that I have hopefully convinced you of the importance of strengthening your lower back, I will talk about the lower back exercises that work best at building and strengthening the lower back.
As stated above, the lower back is a small muscle group and will not require a multitude of exercises to ensure full development. I actually recommend using just one exercise for building your lower back as that will be sufficient to fully develop and strengthen the lower back muscles.
Lower Back Lift #1: Dead Lifts
Targeted Muscles: Lower Back
Auxiliary Muscles: Hamstrings, Glutes and Forearms
To perform this lift, you will simply load a barbell with your desired weight, grip the bar where comfortable, and raise the bar from ground level to a standing position using the lower back muscles.
Make sure to bend at the waist as you lower the weight, and straighten your upper body as you bring the weight back to an upright position. Your legs should also bend as you lower the weight to prevent lower back injury.
Due to the risk of lower back injury, be sure to perform dead lifts carefully and use a slower rep speed than you would use when performing other lifts.
If you are performing this lift with an amount of weight that makes it hard to maintain your grip on the barbell, you will want to purchase a pair of wrist wraps with metal hooks to rest the bar on.
Lower Back Lift #2: Lower Back Extensions
Targeted Muscles: Lower Back
Auxiliary Muscles: Glutes
To perform this exercise, you will need to lay face down on a hyper-extension bench. You will start by letting your torso fall as far as comfortably possible towards the floor and then lift your entire torso upwards until you cannot lift up any farther.
This exercise will be relatively easy to perform a high number of reps for most individuals.
If you are able to complete more than 15 reps while performing a set of this exercise, I recommend holding a weight plate across your chest that gives enough resistance to keep your number of reps below 15 before reaching muscle failure. This will make sure that you are maintaining high intensity and adding the extra weight when necessary will ensure continual development of your lower back muscles.
While I have described two lower back exercises above, you will only need to choose one of these lifts to sufficiently build and strengthen the muscles of your lower back.
Of the two lower back exercises described above, I personally use the dead lift exercise because it allows me to use more weight and increases my intensity which leads to faster strength gains. However, if your preference is to use lower back extensions, you will fair just fine as long as you add weight when necessary as described above.
Adding significant amounts of muscle mass will not be possible through weight training alone. In order to maximize your strength gains and quickly pack on lean muscle mass, you will need to follow a muscle building diet plan.