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It’s no secret that a strong, healthy back is essential to a pain-free life.
Whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or lifting heavy boxes, your back takes a beating.
And if you don’t take the time to properly stretch and strengthen it, you could be setting yourself up for long-term pain and discomfort.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the 15 best lower back exercises so you can start taking care of your back today!
These exercises can be performed at home with just dumbbells (some require a bench too).
So there’s little excuse not to get started!
Table of Contents
The Importance of a Strong Back
There are many reasons why a strong back is essential.
One of the most important is that it helps you stay active and independent as you age.
A strong back also helps maintain good posture, which can prevent health problems like back pain.
Another reason why a strong back is so important is that it helps you stay mobile.
If you have a weak back, you are more likely to suffer from mobility problems.
This can make it difficult to do everyday activities like getting out of bed or walking upstairs.
Finally, a strong back can help protect the spine.
Our spine is a delicate structure, and a weak back can lead to problems like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
By keeping your back strong, you can help reduce your risk of these problems.
The Best Lower Back Dumbbell Exercises
Dumbbell workouts are an ideal alternative to a barbell if you’re looking to get a greater range of motion.
Be sure to add a few of the following dumbbell exercises to your next back workout for an intense pump.
Directly below is a video playlist with each of the dumbbell back exercises.
1. Dumbbell Hyperextension Exercise
The dumbbell hyperextension workout is excellent for toning the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles.
It can be performed with or without added weight.
If you are new to this movement, it is best to start without weight and gradually add weight as you get stronger.
It can be done on an incline bench or a flat bench.
If you are using an incline bench, make sure that it is set at a moderate angle so that you do not put too much strain on your lower back.
Performing the Hyper-Extension Exercise
- Start by lying face down on the bench with your hips on the edge.
- Place a single dumbbell between your hands.
- Extend your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Pause for a moment and then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
- After one rep repeat for 10-15 more.
2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift is a weight-training exercise that targets multiple muscle groups.
These include the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core.
It is a great exercise to build lower body strength and muscle mass.
Ideally, you will use two dumbbells to execute the movement.
How To Do the Romanian Deadlift
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- With your knees bent slightly, hinge at the hips to lower the weights toward the floor.
- Keep your back slightly arched and your core engaged as you lower the weights.
- Once your upper body is parallel to the floor, pause and then slowly return up to the starting position.
3. Dumbbell Bent Over Row
This dumbbell row primarily works the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back.
Secondarily, it works upper back muscles including the trapezius, rhomboids, and rear delts.
This exercise can also be used to develop the biceps and core muscles.
How To Do the Dumbbell Bent Over Row
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees.
- Bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Let the weights hang down at arm’s length from your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso.
- Pause for a moment, then slowly bring the weights back to the starting position.
- Keep your back straight and avoid rounding your shoulders during the exercise.
- Exhale as you lift the dumbbells and inhale as you lower them.
- Don’t swing the weights or use momentum to lift them – the muscles should do all the work.
4. Seated Good Morning Exercise
The Seated Dumbbell Good Morning Exercise targets the erector spinae muscles.
It is similar to the barbell good morning but uses dumbbells instead.
The seated version allows for a greater emphasis on the back muscles.
Make sure to properly warm up and use light dumbbells when performing this movement.
Performing the Seated Dumbbell Good Morning Exercise
- Start by Hugging a dumbbell tight to your chest, palms facing your body.
- Sit on the edge of a bench with feet wider than shoulder width.
- Brace your core and lean forward at the hips until your torso is past parallel to the ground.
- From here, raise your hips until your back is straight and then return to the starting position.
This exercise is suitable for most people, but if you have any back or joint pain, please consult a doctor or physiotherapist before trying it.
The seated dumbbell good morning can be done at any time, but it is especially good to do in the morning as it can help to prevent poor posture for the day ahead.
5. Superman Exercise
The dumbbell superman is great for toning your abs and lower back and can help improve your posture.
To Perform It
- Begin by lying prone on your stomach with a weight in each hand.
- Then with extended arms and legs straight out.
- Lift them into the air.
- Hold for five to ten seconds, then slowly lower back down.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
6. Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
The stiff-legged deadlift is a weightlifting exercise in which the athlete bends forward from the waist and lowers a weight to the floor while keeping their back and arms straight.
It primarily targets the posterior chain muscles including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
This exercise can also be used as a rehabilitation exercise for athletes who have suffered hamstring tears.
How To Perform the Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, pointed forward, and a dumbbell in each hand.
- Bend forward at the waist and lower the weights down toward your feet while keeping your back straight.
- Once the weights reach your shins, reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
Tips for Performing the Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift:
- Keep your back straight throughout the entire movement.
- Don’t bring the weights all the way to the ground on the way down.
- Avoid rounding your lower back as you lower the weights down toward your feet.
- Focus on contracting your glutes and hamstrings as you stand back up to the starting position.
- Do not swing the weights as you lift them back up to the starting position.
- Try to keep your knees locked, but it’s okay to have a slight bend with heavy weights.
7. Single Arm Dumbbell Bent Over Row
The single-arm dumbbell row is an important unilateral dumbbell back exercise for development.
It specifically targets the latissimus dorsi (lats) and trapezius (traps).
This is a must-do exercise if you’re trying to fix imbalances in your lower lats.
Always start with the weaker side first and when you switch to the stronger side be sure to use the same tempo and rep range.
To Do It
- You will need to place one hand and knee on a bench with your back parallel to the floor.
- Hold a dumbbell in your other hand with your arm hanging down toward the floor.
- Bend your elbow and pull the weight up toward chest level, making sure to keep your back flat.
- Pause for a moment and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat this process for the desired number of repetitions.
8. Dumbbell Bird Dog
The dumbbell bird dog is a great exercise for improving lower back and core strength.
It will also improve rotary stability in the hips and shoulders. On top of that, it can help to improve coordination and balance.
How To Do the Dumbbell Bird Dog
- Start in a quadruped position with your hands and knees on the ground, and a dumbbell in each hand.
- Brace your core and keep your spine in a neutral position as you raise the right arm and left leg off of the ground.
- Keep the upper arm and leg parallel to the ground.
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting point and repeat the same position with the other arm and leg.
- Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions on each side.
9. Dumbbell Glute Bridge
The dumbbell glute bridge (or hip raise) is a beginner-friendly exercise that can be performed by most people.
It is great for strengthening the glutes and low back and for improving hip mobility.
It can be performed with or without weights.
How To Do the Dumbbell Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back with a bend in your knees and feet tight to the floor.
- Place a dumbbell on your pelvis, just above your hips.
- Press into your heels and lift your hips off the ground, extending your hips until your thighs and torso are in line with each other.
- Hold for a few seconds, then gradually lower your hips back down.
- Repeat for 8-12 reps.
10. Side Bend
Dumbbell side bends are a great way to work the abdominal muscles, obliques, and hip flexors.
The exercise is simple to perform and can be done with a variety of weights.
This makes it ideal for both beginner and advanced lifters alike.
Steps for Performing the Side Bend
- It is performed by standing with knees slightly bent, and weight in one hand.
- Bend sideways at the waist.
- And lower the weight as far as possible.
- Then, return to the start.
- Start by doing 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- As you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the number of sets and reps.
When performing side bends, it is important to keep the back straight and avoid rounding the shoulders.
This will help to target the abdominal muscles more effectively.
It is also important to keep the elbow underneath the shoulder and close to the body while resisting the temptation to swing the weight.
11. Dumbbell Roll Out
The dumbbell roll out is a great core strengthening exercise that targets the abs, obliques, and lower back.
It Is Performed By
- Sitting on your ankles on the floor with a weight (dumbbell) in each hand.
- Hold the weights on the ground in front of your knees with an overhand grip.
- Then roll them forward so your body is extended and parallel to the floor.
- Use your abs to pull the weight back in towards your knees and then replicate this motion for 10-15 reps.
12. Dumbbell Batwing Row
The dumbbell batwing row works your back, shoulders, and biceps.
It is similar to a standard chest-supported row, but you perform it with your upper arms tight to the sides in a “batwing” position.
How To Do the Batwing Dumbbell Row
- Start by sitting with your stomach/chest on a bench or other medium incline surface with your knees slightly bent and your toes on the ground.
- Pick up a dumbbell in each hand, and position yourself so that your palms are facing your body.
- Lean forward from the hips until your upper body is secured against the bench while maintaining a neutral spine.
- From this position, row the dumbbells back to the sides of your body by retracting your shoulder blades and keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, and then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
This is an excellent exercise for improving posture and preventing back pain.
For general fitness, aim for 8-12 reps per set. For muscle building, aim for 4 sets of 6-10.
13. Dumbbell Swing
The dumbbell swing is a powerlifting movement that targets the posterior muscles.
It is a ballistic exercise that requires explosive power to move the weight from between your legs to overhead.
The swing is often used as a training exercise to improve explosiveness and power output in athletes.
How To Do the Dumbbell Swing
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the dumbbell on the floor in front of you.
- Bend at your hips and knees to grasp the weight with both hands, then pull it back between your legs.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, drive through your heels to swing the weight up to shoulder height. Allow the momentum of the swinging to carry your arms overhead.
- Then reverse the motion to return the weight between your legs.
14. Dumbbell Plank Row
The dumbbell plank row is a great core workout that also works the back. It’s similar to a regular plank, but you add in a rowing motion with the dumbbells.
This exercise is perfect for beginners because it’s easy to modify and can be done anywhere.
How To Do a Dumbbell Plank Row
- Start in a high push-up position with your hands on the dumbbells.
- Row one dumbbell up to your chest, keeping your body stable.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.
- Continue alternating sides for the desired number of reps.
Modifications for the dumbbell plank row:
If this exercise is too difficult, you can try doing it on your knees.
You can also use lighter dumbbells or no dumbbells at all.
15. Single Dumbbell Deadlift Twist
The deadlift twist is a move that can be used to improve your normal deadlift.
It is a variation of the deadlift that adds a rotational component, which can help you engage more muscles to lift more weight.
To Perform the Deadlift Twist
- Start with the same stance you would use for a traditional deadlift.
- Hold the weight in your left hand, and squat the weight up to the standing position.
- Keep your back straight, core tight, and your arm fully extended downwards (tight to your body).
- Then twist your left foot and upper body to the right.
- Begin leaning forward using a deadlift motion with your left hand over the side of your right leg.
- While in this position, set the dumbbell down and pick it up with your right hand.
- Now do the same motion in the other direction.
The Bottom Line on Lower Back Exercises
The best at-home dumbbell back exercises are those that can be completed using just a few pieces of equipment and without taking up a lot of space.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the 15 best exercises for strengthening and toning your lower back.
If you’re looking for an effective workout that you can do in the comfort of your own home, give these exercises a try!
Dumbbell Back Exercises FAQs
What Exercise Trains the Lower Back?
The lower back is a complex area of the body that can be difficult to train.
However, by using a combination of movements, you can effectively build this region and improve your strength and flexibility.
Some of the best primary lower back exercises include deadlifts, good mornings, and hyperextensions.
Many other exercises target the low back secondarily.
What Muscles Make Up the Lower Back?
The muscles that make up the lower back are the erector spinae muscles, the multifidus, and the transversus abdominis.
The erector spinae is a group of muscles that extend from the base of the spine to the back of the head.
They work to keep the spine upright and help with movements such as bending forward and backward.
The multifidus is a muscle that runs along the length of the spine and helps to stabilize the spine.
The transversus abdominis is a muscle that wraps around the lower abdomen and helps to support the lower back.
How Often Should I Train My Lower Back?
There is no definitive answer, as everyone’s lower back will respond differently to different training frequencies.
However, for general health and fitness, most people should aim to train their lower back at least twice a week.
For those looking to specifically target lower back strength and endurance, 3-4 times per week may be more appropriate.
Always speak with a certified personal trainer before beginning any new dumbbell exercises.