Your lower back training is an essential part of your workout. The lower portion of your back and your abs are your core. It is a critical area to build strong to assist in your general back training, as well as other lifts to boost strength and overall muscle development.
The lower back, as well as hams and glutes, are often neglected body parts, left to only a few light sets and reps at the end of a workout. This is due to these body parts not being visible in the mirror. One way to tackle this dilemma is to train your posterior body parts first in your workout, ensuring that they do get targeted fully.
When it comes to general back training, there is no shortage of people doing the lat pulldown. This is because the lats can be viewed from the front when flexed or posed. In fact, well-developed lats with that flaring v-taper are sort of an icon of the physique in sports such as bodybuilding and figure contests. A wide back and small waist with etched abs is really eye catching and can get you top placement in a competition.
Usually people will follow-up the pulldown with the popular seated rows, or some other back rowing movement. This is usually just done by default. It is a good concept. Any sort of rowing movement is effective for building back thickness such as seated rows, bentover barbell rows, dumbbell rows, T-bar rows, Hammer Strength rows, etc.
A lot of people are working on building back width with lat pulldowns, chins, and pull-ups, and working on building back thickness with rowing movements, but there is a huge portion of people neglecting lower back training.
Some of the more popular lower back exercises include:
Low CB pulleys
A Controversial Exercise (You Decide If It’s For You)
The good mornings… Well, it is actually NOT a favorite of mine. It’s a very controversial exercise to tell you the truth. I have the most irritating lower back injury that I can trace back to doing good mornings in the late 1990s. It has affected my training to a great degree, all the way to hindering my squat.
The famous Bruce Lee also got injured doing good mornings after an improper warm-up and choosing a poundage that was a bit challenging.
If you do choose to use good mornings as a part of your back training, choose a very light, and I do mean VERY light poundage. Avoid rounding your back when you do this exercise. As you lower, keep your lower back straight.
Exercises for Development
Hyperextension (Something to Consider)
The hyperextension is a good choice for a lower back exercise, targeting your erector spinae muscle, the one in charge of extending your spine. This exercise can increase lean muscle and strength in the lower back region, and it is also used for an exercise in rehab workout programs.
By adjusting the hyperextension machine’s adjustable pad to where it hits you at your hips, right at the bend, it allows the focus to be directed to your lower back more than your hamstrings and glutes.
Another little tip is, as you lower your upper body, round your back to allow it to do the work. If you keep your back straight as you lower your upper body, it will take a good bit of the focus off of your lower back and put it on your hams and glutes.
As your lower back gets stronger you can hold a weight plate against your chest as you do the movement to add a little resistance.
Build your reps and sets slowly, and only add the weight plate after you can do 4 sets of 15 reps with no weight.
Now, if you WANT to target your hams and glutes on the hyperextension machine, then move the adjustable pad lower so the top of the pad touches your mid to upper thigh area. As you lower your upper body, keep your back straight. This will take some focus off your lower back and direct it to your hams and glutes. Pretty cool, huh?
Deadlifts (A Great Muscle Builder)
Deadlifts can be used to build your hamstrings or they can be used to build your lower back. HOW you do them will determine which body part they target.
The stiff-legged deadlift, commonly known as the SLDL, is the one used to build your hammies. In fact, it’s the core hamstring builder to build those jaw-dropping, head-turning hams.
Now, using the deadlift to build a strong lower back is the way to go in my opinion. It is a compound movement and it also targets the traps, lats, middle back, forearms, glutes, quads, hams, and calves. This one exercise packs a powerful muscle building punch!
This exercise starts from the floor. Basically, you stand in front of the bar with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat down next to it and grip the bar with both hands. You might use an alternate grip if you are going to life heavy so you don’t lose your grip.
After you seal your grip, ensure your feet are planted flat on the floor. Your starting position will be you squatted behind the bar, your back straight, with a tight grip.
From this lowered position, stand straight up, pushing from your knees and using your lower body, keeping the bar close to your body as you power up.
When you reach the full standing erected position drive your hips forward and extend your lats to get the full contraction. Then, lower the bar back to the starting position and back to your squatted position. Repeat.
Start off light and get the feel of the movement before adding poundage. I highly recommend that you get a qualified trainer to show you the correct form before attempting this exercise with heavy weights.
Build A Strong Back Without Deadlifts
Low Cable Pulley (Great Muscle Builder If You Can’t Do Deadlifts)
I am so thankful for this exercise as a lower back muscle builder because with my nagging lower back injury, it can be difficult to do deadlifts properly.
I discovered this exercise from Peter Sisco and John Little’s popular muscle building book, “Power Factor Training – A Scientific Approach to Building Lean Muscle Mass.” It is actually an advanced and intense training program that uses momentary intensity with volumetric intensity to overload the muscles to produce dramatic lean muscle gain.
I have used it faithfully and I can tell you that it indeed works.
It requires some very heavy lifting, and in order to do certain exercises safely they have specific recommendations, and one of the lower back exercises is the low pulley back exercise. I’ve found, with my lower back injury, I can really maximize my poundage used and training on this one unique exercise.
Since you do it on a pulley apparatus, such as the seated row, I call it the Low Cable Pulley.
Here is what you do…
Sit on the seated row machine, grab the handgrip and sit in an upright position, now lock your knees out and keep them straight.
From this position, lean in and get a good stretch in your lower back and then using your lower back, pull yourself to the upright position and lean back slightly contracting the lower back. Repeat.
It’s really an easy exercise and easier to learn than the deadlift. It also allows you to handle a heavier weight load safely.
Don’t Be Left Behind (Important Stuff…)
These are just a few tips to help advance your lower back training or to help train around a lower back injury. If you want more training information on how to build your physique and have it stage-ready in just 12 weeks, you really should check out my Best-Selling eBook, Figure Competition Secrets. It’s the one most used by IFBB Figure Pros and Models. Remember, if you are not ready, your competition IS.
Karen Sessions – Figure Coach
(Article, Lower Back Training Alternatives, Written by Karen Sessions)