Slouching at your desk, bending over your phone, picking up the groceries, and even spending too much time hunched over your handlebars can all be hard on your lower back. When the muscles of the core and back aren’t strong enough to handle daily activities and our riding habits, the result is unwanted back pain.
The upside is that with just a few workouts a week, you can effectively strengthen the back muscles that surround and support your spine and target the muscle weaknesses that contribute to low back pain. This workout from Kara Miklaus, NASM-certified trainer and co-owner of Training Studio in Irvine, California, will strengthen your lower back. You’ll work on activating back muscles you don’t always focus on—and feel the burn in your arms and core.
How to do it: You’ll need a band, a set of dumbbells, a barbell, and an exercise ball. Perform each exercise for 15 reps, and repeat for the listed number of rounds.
*If you have any chronic back issues, it’s best to consult with your physician before starting any new exercise program.
Banded “Y” Raise
Loop a resistance band with handles around a treadmill or bar that is about chest-height. Hold one handle in each hand. Start with your arms extended out in front of you. Slowly raise your hands above your head to make a “Y” then lower arms back down to starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. Complete 3 rounds.
Dumbbell Reverse Fly
Stand with feet hip width and send hips back to bend over about 45 degrees, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend arms straight down in front of chest with palms in a fist facing each other. Using your upper back, open arms out wide until they are extended at shoulder height. Return to starting position and repeat. (If this is too challenging, drop the dumbbells and start with bodyweight only). Perform 15 reps. Complete 4 rounds.
Seated Band Row
Loop a resistance band with handles around the base of a pole. Sit upright with your heels planted on the ground. Grab one handle in each hand. Starting with your arms straight out in front of you, engage your back to pull the band toward you, bending at the elbows while maintaining a strong core and straight back. Pull the band in to your chest, then slowly straighten your arms back out. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. Complete 3 rounds.
Lie facedown on an exercise ball, with your pelvis pressing against the ball. Balance on the balls of your feet, with knees slightly bent, or press your feet against a wall, keeping your knees slightly bent. Start with your chest upright and place your hands behind your head. Slowly lower torso by bending at the waist, keeping a strong lower back until you are parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly raise your torso back to starting position. Pause at the top. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. Complete 3 rounds.
Barbell Bent-Over Row
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the barbell with arms shoulder-width apart. Keeping back flat and with a slight bend in knees, send hips back. Press elbows back, squeeze shoulder blades together, and lift weights toward ribs. Pause, then lower. (If you don’t have a barbell, you can use two dumbbells instead.) Repeat for 15 reps. Complete 4 rounds.