3 Lower Back Workouts for Stronger Lower Back Muscles
An often overlooked part of the physique is the lower back, or lumbar. Much attention is given to the more visible upper back at the expense of its bottom portion. Many bodybuilders focus their training on the abs and build up strength and conditioning in this area. This also causes an imbalance if the lower back isn’t trained as well.
If this continues, it can cause lower-back injuries severe enough to end bodybuilding careers. So bodybuilders need to take some advice from their powerlifting counterparts and focus training efforts on building size and strength in this important muscle group.
That leads us to the question: How best to train the lower back? Should I do mostly medium-weight isolation moves or powerbuilding compound exercises like deadlifts?
The answer is to do both. It’s important to build up the muscles with isolation exercises but you need to “tie-in” these muscles with surrounding ones and build functional strength.
So we will be using routines with both types of exercises and some with one or the other.
Lower Back Exercises; A Quality List
Good Mornings – This isolation movement is a great one for focusing exclusively on the lower back muscles. Place a barbell with a moderate weight behind your neck. Bend forward at the waist while keeping your knees locked. Continue until horizontal with the floor. Return to the upright position before repeating.
Roman Chair Hyperextensions – Another great way to isolate your lower back and build up strength. Lie face down on a roman chair, placing your feet under the legs to hold yourself in place. With your hands locked behind your head, lift your upper body up as far as you can go and pause for a second before lowering.
Seated Machine Lower Back Extensions – Sit in an extension machine after selecting a moderate weight. Slowly extend back until perpendicular with the floor. Pause for one second and return.
Barbell Deadlift – Load a barbell with the desired weight. Use either a standard grip or an over-under one. Bend your knees while crouching down. Your feet should be wider than shoulder-width. Using your back and leg muscles, lift the bar up and backward until your knees are locked and you’re bent slightly backward. A pair of dumbbells can be used as an alternative.
Deficit Deadlift – Begin by standing on a large block that’s approx. 3 inches in height. Bend down and grip the bar with an over-under grip. Do a deadlift using proper form. This form gives some extra range-of-motion to the lift.
Seated Cable Back Extensions – Sit in front of a cable machine while grasping a double rope handle in front of your forehead. Lean back against the resistance until fully-extended. Pause for one second, return.
3 Lower Back Strengthening Workouts
#1 – HIT Routine
- Deadlift – 1×8. Rest 10 seconds, then…
- Roman chair hyperextensions – 1×15+4, 10-second holds at end of set. (To do the holds, extend to the top and hold for 10 seconds,rest 10 seconds, repeat. Continue until four holds have been completed.)
#2 – Standard Volume Routine
- Deficit deadlift – 3×6,8,10 (rest one minute between sets)
- Good mornings – 2×15 (rest 30 seconds between sets)
- Machine extensions – 3×12
#3 – Powerlifting Deadlift Routine
- Deadlift – 6×8,6,4,3,2,2 (Rest three minutes between sets. Add weight as you reduce the reps on each set. Use at or near max weight on each set.)
- Roman chair hyperextensions – 4×12,10,8,3 (Rest three minutes between sets. Hold a weight plate behind your head to add weight.)
- Good mornings – 2×10,6 (Rest one minute between sets.)
Things to concentrate on:
Use relatively slow, deliberate movements with strict form. While deadlifts require faster movement than machine extensions do, avoid fast, jerky movement to prevent injuries.
Add weight to the bar or machine in small increments to avoid activating the Golgi Tendon, which limits the muscle’s ability to contract against resistance by nerve deactivation. This is the body’s way of avoiding damaging injuries to tendon,ligaments and muscles during strenuous activities.
Record weights used and repetitions during each exercise. This is the only way to set goals and achieve them.
Focus on the muscle to increase the mind-muscle connection. After you have been training for awhile, you will be able to make the weight feel heavier on the muscle being trained by increasing the efficiency of the neuromuscular system.