Best Exercise for Lower Back

Because there are so many great exercises for different areas of the back and different ways to build the back (i.e. back width and back thickness), back is going to be split into multiple weekly posts.  For the lower back, the best exercise is going to be deadlifts.  Deadlifts are more of a full body exercise, but they allow you to go extremely heavy and build more strength in your lower back.

To be honest, when I first started working out, I would not do deadlifts.  It was partly due to form issues, because I didn’t know the proper form for deadlifts.  It was also partly due to the fact that I was working out at home and my bar could only hold 80 pounds, which even when I first began consistently working out, was light enough to easily do 12 reps (I found this out later after I learned more about the form.)  But today, I never do a back day without deadlifts.

There are many different variations of deadlifts, many of which focus more on specific muscles like the lower back or the hamstrings.  Straight-leg deadlifts, for example, take the pushing motion out of the deadlift and focus more on the pulling.  This relieves pressure on the quads and puts more on the lower back and hamstrings.  Romanian Deadlifts are similar, though with these, you bend your knees, but it focuses on the upper range of motion without touching the floor.  Rack Pulls are also a kind of variation of a deadlift where you have a power rack or a sturdy object on each end of the bar that you can set it on, and you lift it from the “rack” to the top position and back down, resting it on the “rack” for a second between each rep.

The form of the deadlift is a little more complex than most exercises.  Many people just say a deadlift is “lifting weight and putting it down,” but there are plenty of form no-nos if you’re trying to avoid injury.  Because there is so much to cover with it, I will have three videos posted below to provide the basic form of a basic deadlift and tips on how to get the most out of your deadlifts.  These videos belong to the Buff Dudes and I take no credit for them.

These videos should help you to get started on deadlifts, or help you improve your deadlifts if you have already been doing them but maybe have been making some mistakes.  One thing I should note is that if you’re just beginning, go light and feel it out.  The last thing you want to do is go to 135 pounds on your first time doing deadlifts and not be able to move the bar.  Work your way up, even if it is just adding 5 pounds to each set each week, which is what I have been doing.  It has greatly helped with my strength and size and I plan to continue until I reach the point I can’t raise the weight 5 more pounds each week.


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