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3 Ways to Do Body Weight Back Exercises
When learning to do body weight back exercises for the lower back, it is important to remember that strengthening the lower abdomen is just as important as strengthening the muscles of the lumbar spine. Getting equal support from the front and back will help to reduce pain in the back and hips. Lay on your back with your arms resting at your sides and your legs together. Flex your feet so that your toes are pulling up and inhale deeply. As you exhale, lift your legs, pushing out through the heels, until they are lifting straight up to the ceiling. If necessary, you can push into your hands to help with the lift; however, it is best to engage your abs and let them do the work. As you inhale, slowly lower your legs down to work the back. Do not let your feet touch the ground, instead, lift again on the next exhale, repeating two to three sets of five to ten lifts.
A Salute to the Sun
While there are many yoga poses for the back, the bow portion of the sun salutation is a great way to strengthen the mid back. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart with legs straight; however, do not lock your knees. Inhale as you reach your hands straight overhead, lengthening through the spine. As you exhale, lean forward at the hips keeping your back straight and reaching out through your hands. Lower yourself until your spine is horizontal to the ground and then slowly come up to standing, using a full inhalation. Throughout the exercise, make sure that your feet remain flat on the floor, legs straight and buttocks and abdomen engaged. Also, lifting and lowering slowly is the most important part, using your own weight to strengthen the mid back and abdomen. Repeat five to ten bows.
Reversing the Push-Up
The reverse push-up is one of the most simple back exercises around, and works the entire body, particularly the upper back and shoulder. Sit upright on the floor with a straight spine and your legs together and toes pointed. Place your hands on the ground about one foot behind your back with fingertips facing your back. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, lean back into your hands and lift your hips, bring your feet flat to the floor. Your body should be in a straight line with arms directly below the shoulders. If you have a sore neck, keep your chin to your chest, otherwise, gently roll your head back, lifting the chin. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and then gently lower your hips as you inhale, lifting your head only once your hips have touched the ground.
- You Tube: Bodyweight Back Workout
- ExRx.net: Chin-up
- ExRx.net: Pull-up
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. Updated April 27, 2020.
- Chou R. Low back pain (chronic). BMJ Clin Evid. 2010;2010:1116.
- Rosario JL. Relief from Back Pain Through Postural Adjustment: a Controlled Clinical Trial of the Immediate Effects of Muscular Chains Therapy (MCT). Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2014;7(3):2-6.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Daily moves to prevent low back pain. 2013.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Preventing Back Pain at Work and at Home. Updated February 2017.
- American Council on Exercise. What are some back pain do's and don'ts for exercise? 2011.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.