The Elite Physique

Lower Back Training Alternatives

Check Out These Lower Back Training Alternatives for a Strong Back

Lower back training alternatives are great to have up your sleeve.  Overall back training is an essential part of your workout.  The lower portion of your back and your abs are your core. It is a critical area to build strong to assist in your general back training, as well as other lifts to boost strength and overall muscle development.

woman holding bar showing lower back training alternatives

The lower back is often a neglected body part, left to only a few light sets and reps at the end of a workout. This is due to these body parts not being visible in the mirror. One way to tackle this dilemma is to train your posterior body parts first in your workout.  This ensures that they do get targeted fully.

When it comes to general back training, there is no shortage of people doing the lat pulldown. This is because the lats can be viewed from the front when flexed or posed. A set of well-developed lats with that flaring v-taper is sort of an icon of a well-developed physique. A wide back and small waist with etched abs are really eye catching and can get you top placement in a competition.

Usually people will follow-up the pulldown with the popular seated rows, or some other back rowing movement. This is usually just done by default. It is a good concept. Any sort of rowing movement is effective for building back thickness such as seated rows, bentover barbell rows, dumbbell rows, T-bar rows, Hammer Strength rows, etc.

Some of the more popular lower back exercises include:

  • Good Mornings
  • Back extensions
  • Deadlifts
  • Low cable pulleys

A Controversial Exercise

The good mornings are a lower back training exercise.  It’s actually not my favorite. It’s a very controversial exercise to tell you the truth. I have the most irritating lower back injury that I can trace back to doing good mornings in the late 1990s. It has affected my lower back training to a great degree, all the way to hindering my squat.  Bruce Lee got injured doing good mornings after an improper warm-up by using a poundage that was a bit challenging.

If you do good mornings as a part of your lower back training, choose a very light, and I do mean very light poundage.  Avoid rounding your back when you do this exercise.  As you lower, keep your lower back straight.

Back Extensions

One of the lower back training alternatives is the back extension.  This is a good choice for targeting your erector spinae muscle, the one in charge of extending your spine. This exercise can increase lean muscle and strength in the lower back region, and it is also used for an exercise in rehab workout programs.

By adjusting the hyperextension machine’s adjustable pad to where it hits you at your hips, right at the bend, it allows the focus to be directed to your lower back more than your hamstrings and glutes.

Another little tip is, as you lower your upper body, round your back to allow it to do the work. If you keep your back straight as you lower your upper body, it will take a good bit of the focus off of your lower back and put it on your hams and glutes.

As your lower back gets stronger you can hold a weight plate against your chest as you do the movement to add a little resistance.

Build your reps and sets slowly.  Add a light weight plate after you can do 4 sets of 15 reps with no weight.

If you want to target your hams and glutes on the hyperextension machine, then move the adjustable pad lower so the top of the pad touches your mid to upper thigh area. As you lower your upper body, keep your back straight. This will take some focus off your lower back and direct it to your hams and glutes. Pretty cool, huh?

Deadlifts (A Great Muscle Builder)

You can use deadlifts to build your hamstrings or they can be used for your lower back training. How you do them will determine which body part they target.

The stiff-legged deadlift, commonly known as the SLDL, is the one used to build your hammies. In fact, it’s the core hamstring builder to build those jaw-dropping, head-turning hams.

Now, using the deadlift to build a strong lower back is the way to go in my opinion. It is a compound movement and it also targets the traps, lats, middle back, forearms, glutes, quads, hams, and calves. This one exercise packs a powerful muscle building punch!

Here’s How to Do the SLDL Properly

  • This exercise starts from the floor. Basically, you stand in front of the bar with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat down next to it and grip the bar with both hands. You might use an alternate grip if you are going to life heavy so you don’t lose your grip.
  • After you seal your grip, ensure your feet are planted flat on the floor. Your starting position will be you squatted behind the bar, your back straight, with a tight grip.
  • From this lowered position, stand straight up, pushing from your knees and using your lower body, keeping the bar close to your body as you power up.
  • When you reach the full standing erected position drive your hips forward and extend your lats to get the full contraction. Then, lower the bar back to the starting position and back to your squatted position. Repeat.

Start off light and get the feel of the movement before adding poundage. Get a qualified trainer to show you the correct form before attempting this exercise with heavy weights.

Low Cable Pulley

I am so thankful for this exercise as one of the lower back training alternatives because with my nagging lower back injury, it can be difficult to do deadlifts properly.

This exercise is from Peter Sisco and John Little’s popular muscle building book, Power Factor Training – A Scientific Approach to Building Lean Muscle Mass. It is actually an advanced and intense training program that uses momentary intensity with volumetric intensity to overload the muscles to produce dramatic lean muscle gain.  I have used it faithfully and I can tell you that it indeed works.

It requires some very heavy lifting.  To do certain exercises safely, they have specific recommendations.  One of the lower back exercises is the low pulley back exercise. I’ve found, with my lower back injury, I can really maximize my poundage used and training on this one unique exercise.

Since you do it on a pulley apparatus, such as the seated row, I call it the Low Cable Pulley.

Here is what you do…

  1. Sit on the seated row machine, grab the handgrip and sit in an upright position.  Now lock your knees out and keep them straight.
  2. From this position, lean in and get a good stretch in your lower back.  Then using your lower back, pull yourself to the upright position.  Lean back slightly, contracting the lower back. Repeat.

It’s really an easy exercise and easier to learn than the deadlift. It also allows you to handle a heavier weight load safely.

Don’t Be Left Behind (Important Stuff…)red arrow pointing down

These are just a few tips on lower back training alternatives.  They can help train around a lower back injury and even prevent a lower back training injury.  Injury prevention is all in your form and load used.

Now, join over 73,000 other athletes that want to get in shape and compete on stage.  Join my FREE Crash Course and learn what it takes to build muscle, lose fat, and get in shape.  See below…


Get REAL Training Information...

Learn how to train the right way so you build amazing muscle in record time.  I've done all the research grunt work for you.  Now, all you need to do is follow the guide and do the grunt work in the gym.  Get your free copy by clicking the link below...

Click Here for FREE Access

Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

Get REAL Training Information...

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

More About Karen

Related Articles