It is all too common to see gym- goers and even some bodybuilders avoid training their lower back in fear of injury or muscle damage. Most other people are indifferent about training their lower back as it is not a region visible whilst wearing clothing. It is not common to receive compliments like “nice lower back”, so people neglect the area. However, there are some benefits to working the lower back. Working the area can make it stronger and less injury-prone. The lower back does not count as a vanity muscle group like the pectorals or calfs, so it doesn’t get the same level of interest in the gym.
Training the lower back has benefits for all-round health and also sporting performance. If you are training to do any type of long-distance running, then working on your lower back will help prevent any injuries. For those of you who avoid squatting because of the strain it puts on your body, train the lower back so you can have a stronger stance. As you get older, the lower back often becomes weak and makes it difficult to bend over and pick things off the floor. This makes it incredibly important to train the lower back consistently throughout your life in order to maintain a strong form as you get older. In this mini-guide we are looking at what muscles make up the lower back, the upside to training the area and what a strong lower back workout routine looks like.
What Muscles Are In The Lower Back?
There are so many muscles located in the lower back, it would be ridiculous to try to name them all. Instead of looking at all of the muscles in the lower region individually, we will be looking at the muscles in two groups, along with some other muscles that are involved in movement.
The Transversospinalis Muscles
This is the first group of muscles located in the lower back and are made up of three layers of muscles. The Rotatores, the Semispinalis and the Multifudus muscles are the three that make up this group. These muscles can be seen to go all the way up the spine and their main function is to rotate the vertebral column.
The Erector Spinae Muscles
There are three types of muscle that make up the Erector Spinae group. These are the Iliocostalis, Longissimus, and Spinalis muscles. The three muscles work against your abdominals, preventing them from overworking. This group prevents your abdominals from pulling you forward, straightening your vertebrae.
If you lean over to pick something up from the ground, the Erector Spinae muscles will be responsible for raising you back up. There are some other muscles that impact the movement of your lower back. For example, the abdominals, latissimus dorsil and gluteal all effect the lower back.
Why Its Good To Have A Strong Back
The Lumbar area is located around the lower quartile of the torso, the area includes the abdominals and the other lower back muscles previously mentioned. Most of your bodyweight is carried by this Lumbar region. In people aged 40+, lower back pain is incredibly common. This is because the lower back is put under so much stress from the rest of the body. Once one muscle is damaged, the other muscle are all likely to be negatively effected, which makes the lower back pain so much worse. Strengthening the lower back is important because it makes the area more resistant to these issues.
The most obvious upside to strengthening the lower back is the resistance to tears and other injuries. Knee pain and lower back pain are two of the most common problems there are. This can be the symptom of a poor posture, exercise-induced injury or a sedentary lifestyle. If the lower back muscles are under-developed then injury and pain is more likely to occur.
Lower back pain can be caused by simple exercises such as running, an abdominal workout or even hiking. Overdeveloping the abdominals whilst neglecting the lower back is one of the main causes of lower-back injury. Deadlifts and squatting becomes much easier once the lower back muscles become more developed. If you play American Football or Rugby, then taking impact will be less likely to cause injury as the lower back will be able to withstand more strain.
Exercises For A Strong Lower Back
These are the best exercises that we recommend to improve your lower back conditioning.
#1. The Deadlift
The deadlift can be carried out with kettlebells or dumbbells, but the barbell version is most popular and is the best in terms of muscle-development. There are quite a few variations of the deadlift, such as the Sumo and the Roman deadlift. Keeping the reps low will help you develop muscle faster as this is a labor-intensive exercise. Make sure to get a good rest in between sets to avoid strain.
#2. The Squat
Squats are a great way to strengthen the lower back, this is going off the assumption that the form is good. Squatting is in all good workout routines. Front squats, sumo squats, box squats and even back squats will help you improve your lower back muscle development. Make sure that your form is perfect, otherwise you may do more damage to your back than good.
Hopefully you have a hyperextension bench at your local gym, if so this exercise is ideal for strengthening the first group of muscles in the lower back. When starting out on the machine, make sure that you do not use too much weight or over-extend yourself. If a hyperextension bench is not available to you, then stretch on the ground by lying on a mat and raise your upper body in the air.
Some of the biggest problems that people face in their lower back comes from over-training or loading up on too many plates when squatting. There is a fine line between developing the muscle and injuring it. So be sure to build a strong foundation and increase weight incrementally when working on the lower back.