What Are 5 Exercises for Your Back?

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022

5 exercises to strengthen your back

back pain exercise
Learn the five exercises to strengthen your back, which includes renegade rows, bent-over reverse flys, scapular push-ups, superman, and swimmer.

Exercising the back lowers stiffness by keeping the muscles, ligaments, and tendons flexible. Improved mobility from back exercise helps keep connective tissue fibers from tearing under stress, preventing injury and back pain.

Along with a nutritious diet that includes proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables, proper sleep, sunlight (that provides vitamin D), and a good exercise regimen provide strength to the back.

Five exercises that strengthen your back include:

1. Renegade rows

  1. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your shoulders stacked above your wrists in a high plank position.
  2. Lift your right hand off the ground while keeping your hips square and your core engaged. Tuck your right elbow near your rib cage.
  3. Return your right arm to the starting position and then repeat with your left arm.
  4. Perform 10 to 12 reps on each side.

2. Bent-over reverse flys

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hips hinged forward.
  2. Arms should be at your sides, palms should be in and gaze should be forward.
  3. Raise your arms to create a “T” parallel to the floor, with your elbows slightly bent, while engaging your back and shoulder muscles and maintaining your chest up.
  4. To fully engage the muscles, compress your shoulder blades.
  5. Return your arms to the beginning position.
  6. Repeat for 15 reps.
  7. Consider pinching your shoulder blades together with each exercise while keeping along the spine.
  8. Grab a dumbbell in each hand once you've nailed the technique and can execute the reps reasonably easily.

3. Scapular push-ups

  1. Form a high plank with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Maintain a straight line with your body and neutral head position.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you slowly lower your body halfway down the floor, imagining something between your shoulders on your upper back.
  4. Return your body to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for an additional 8 to 10 reps.
  6. If keeping your high plank is too difficult, try a modified standing version, in which you place your hands flat on a wall in front of you and walk your feet out to your comfort zone.

4. Superman

  1. Lie face down on an exercise mat, toes pointed down and forehead on the floor. Maintain a neutral stance with your gaze.
  2. Bring your arms straight out in front of you and palms down on the floor.
  3. Lift your hands and feet a few inches off the ground by engaging your back, glutes, and hamstrings. 
  4. Repeat for 10 reps, each time holding for three seconds.
  5. Make sure to bring your shoulders down and back as you lift your arms and legs off the floor.
  6. Lift your body and exhale as you lower it.

5. Swimmer

  1. Starting face down on your exercise mat, extend your arms out in front of you and palms on the floor.
  2. Elevate your right arm and left leg off the ground at the same moment while engaging your back, core, and glutes. Then, lower them and lift your left arm and right leg.
  3. This is one repetition. Alternate for a total of 12 to 15 repetitions.
  4. Just like a swimmer in the pool, keep your neck and spine long and your shoulders down to make your movements precise and efficient.
  5. Inhale for three counts and exhale for three counts to help you use your breath efficiently during this workout.

3 stretching exercises to help with lower back pain

Stiff back muscles place additional strain on the vertebrae (bones in your spine) by restricting the spine's natural movements. Stretching the low back and lower body muscles can help relieve stress, reduce pain, and improve spine support.

Three stretching exercises include:

1. Back muscle stretches

  1. Lying on your back, bring your knees and chin to your chest. Gently pull on the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and torso.
  2. Stretching these muscles increases spine flexibility and reduces the likelihood of muscle strain.

2. Hip muscle stretches

  1. These stretches focus on the hip flexors, gluteus, and piriformis muscles.
  2. Stretching these muscles relieves lower body strain and maintains a healthy range of motion.
  3. They can be stretched by lying on your back and dragging one knee to your chest and across your torso while the other leg is flat. Hold for 30 seconds and come back to the starting position.
  4. This should result in a little pulling feeling in the buttocks or upper thighs.

3. Hamstring stretches

  1. Attempt to gradually extend the hamstring muscles to reduce strain on the lower back.
  2. Sit on a mat with your back straight and legs stretched in front. Bend at your waist, extending your arms to reach as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat.
  3. The hamstring muscles arise from the pelvis and run down the back of the thighs to the knee.
  4. To protect the lower back, hamstring stretches should be done gently.

Stretching should not be painful; however, if a stretch causes pain, it is best to stop. 

Stretches should be held for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the muscles to relax before being performed 5 to 10 times. Deep breathing can assist reduce muscle tension and make stretching easier.

What is the importance of back-strengthening exercises?

Exercising and participating in fitness activities help keep the back healthy, improve posture, and prevent injuries.

Exercise stretches, strengthens, and heals muscles that help support the back. When the back and abdominal muscles are weak, the back cannot be properly supported.

Back-strengthening exercises serve to develop these supporting muscles, preventing soft tissue strain such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons and providing enough support for the spine's structures. They improve the body’s posture, prevent back pain, and stabilize the spine.

Stretching is beneficial to the back. Stretching the hamstring muscles helps ease the stress on the lower back. Another advantage of back exercises is that they help keep the bones and joints in your back healthy.


Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form) See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Stretching and strengthening are key to healing and preventing back pain: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/stretching-and-strengthening-are-key-to-healing-and-preventing-back-pain

3 Reasons You Need to Strengthen Your Back: https://www.thejoint.com/arizona/peoria/park-west-48028/272420-3-reasons-you-need-to-strengthen-your-back

Strength Training: Building Shoulder and Back Muscles: https://www.webmd.com/men/features/strength-training-building-shoulder-back-muscles