5 Best Back Exercises for Lifters Dealing With Lower Back Pain

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Having a strong back is one of the keys to any great physique. Think back to the best bodybuilders of all-time and you will find one common trend: a wide back with a thin waist, resulting in the classical V-taper look.

There are plenty of great back movements that can be performed to build a thick back but sometimes excess stress can be placed upon the lower back. Of course, deadlifts and bent over rows are the staples of any back workout, but they can also place a lot of excess stress on the lower back causing further injury.

Related: 10 Exercises to Ease Lower Back Pain

If you are undergoing lower back pain, or have permanent issues, fear not. There are several exercises available at your disposal that will allow you to build a well-developed, thick, wide back.

Stick to these movements while your back is in recovery mode to still receive massive gains.

Lat Pull Down

5 Best Back Exercises That Won’t Strain Your Lower Back

#1 – Chest supported T-bar rows

Most gyms have some form of the chest supported T-bar row. T-bar rows are one of the best movements available for targeting thickness in the back but due to the fact that your back is near parallel to the ground it will also create excess stress on the lower back.

Instead, use a chest-supported T-bar row station to protect your lower back while still targeting the lats and traps.

#2 – Pull-ups

Pull-ups are one of the most fundamental back movements, and quite possibly the best bodyweight exercise period. By using various grip widths you can target back width with a wider grip or back or thickness using a closer grip.

Contrary to popular belief, pull-ups are actually a compound movement as they are engaging several different muscle groups simultaneously. Try warming up with pull-ups or even using them as a finisher to really kill your workout.

#3 – Seated row

Muscular BackThe seated row is one of the best back exercises. It puts the body in a horizontal plane allowing less tension on the lower back. Be sure to keep the weight at a moderate level to avoid hyperextending the back at the end of the movement.

The beauty of the seated row is the amount of variations that are available. Most gyms have attachments for wide grip, closer grip, and even single arm movements. Focus on getting the full extension and squeeze of the lats concentrating more on solid form rather than going as heavy as possible.

#4 – Lat pulldown

The lat pulldown is a machine that simulates a pull-up but allows for excess force to overload the muscle by going above and beyond the typical body weight pull-ups. Many people are commonly seen performing this movement under less than optimal circumstances and involve too much deltoid and bicep in the exercise.

To maximize the effectiveness of this movement keep the weight moderate where it can be controlled. Lean back slightly at the bottom of the exercise and mentally focus on pushing the lats down towards the glutes. This simple mental que will result in a far better contraction.

#5 – Chest supported dumbbell rows

Dumbbell rows are a popular back accessory movement but can also place strain on the lower back. Try using an incline bench and sitting backwards on it facing downwards. Then bring the dumbbells up and back slightly until they come up to parallel to the ground.

Don’t overload the weight and concentrate on controlling it through the entire movement.

Bonus Exercise – Rope pulldowns

To perform this exercise simply stand in a fashion similar to how you would perform a triceps rope pushdown. Keep the arms tight with the elbows curved slightly and pull back and down.

By doing this movement you should be able to feel contraction throughout the exercise. This exercise makes for a great finisher to burn out the back muscles.

Wrap Up

Just because your lower back is in pain doesn’t mean you can’t still get an effective back workout. Concentrate on movements that place less pressure on the back until you reach full recovery.

As is the case with most injuries, focus on doing movements that work around the injury rather than avoiding it entirely. Never think about what you can’t do but instead focus on what you can do to move forward. After working for several years some degree of minor injuries and tweaks are inevitable but we must do our best with the options we have available.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @ryanrodal and subscribe to my YouTube channel: MuscleMinds for more diet information and workout tips and advice.

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Name: Ryan Rodal

Bio: My short term fitness goals include reaching a 300lb bench, 405 lb squat and a 500 lb deadlift. Longterm I want to become more involved in the fitness industry and help others achieve their goals. The bodybuilding lifestyle is not about how much you can lift or even how you look, its simply about being the best version of yourself.