Back Exercises


Back exercises are important to keep a strong core. Doing abdominal exercises alone does not fully strengthen the back.

So you need to include some strengthening and stretching exercises to keep your back strong.

Our backs are used everyday with normal activities. As you reach or bend for an item, you are using your back muscles.

If not properly conditioned, you could potential strain your back. This can cause back pain and/or injuries.

While lower back pain is the most common, you want to ensure you condition all of the back. Strengthening the lower, middle and upper back can minimize risk of pain and injuries.

The primary muscles you will be targeting with these exercises for the back include the Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi and the Trapezius muscle.

Other muscles that will be strengthened and stretched with these exercises include the Infraspinatus, Teres Major and Teres Minor muscles.

Each group is a series of six or more different exercises complete with instructions and videos. You can start each group at the beginning, or select a specific back exercise by clicking on the links.

Lower Back Strengthening Exercises

For the lower back strengthening series, you will need an exercise mat for most of these. You will need a stepper (or small stepping stool) for the straight leg bridge lift.

Keeping your lower back strengthened, as well as all core muscles, can help minimize back injury and reduce lower back pain.

The step by step instructions for the lower back strengthening include the following;

  • Alternating Leg/Arm Lift
  • Superman Back Exericse
  • Dorsal Raise
  • Reverse Leg Raise
  • Straight Leg Bridge Lift
  • Exercise Ball Back Extension

To see these exercises with instructions, go the the lower back strengthening exercises page.

Upper Back Strengthening Exercises

In this series of back exercises you will be focus on primarily on the upper back muscles. These are the Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius muscles.

However, since the Erector Spinae runs the length of the spinal column, you will also be strengthening this muscle as well.

This series uses both resistance bands and dumbbell weights. If you only have one of these types of exercise equipment, you can just use what you have on hand.

The instructions can still be used regardless of the equipment you use. Just alter the instructions to fit your piece of equipment.

To start these strengthening exercises from the beginning, go to the upper back strengthening exercises page.

The step by step instructions for the lower back strengthening include the following;

  • Bent Over Row
  • Pullover Exercise
  • Reverse Fly
  • Cobra Exercise
  • Lat Pulldown

Back Stretching Exercises

The last of the back exercises video series will stretch your upper and lower back muscles. Stretching your muscles is as important as strengthening, so don't skip this step in your workouts.

There are three stretches for the upper back and three stretches for the lower back in this fitness video series.

To start from the beginning, go to the Back Stretching Exercises page. To go directly to one of the videos, use the links below.

Lower Back Stretches
Upper Back Stretches

Major Back Muscles Expained

back muscles

Below is a more detailed, and a bit scientific, explanation of the various back muscles.

Trapezius Muscle

This muscle is a flat, triangular shaped muscle that covers the back of the neck, shoulders and thorax. It is one of the primary upper back muscles.

The Trapezius is used to tilt and turn the head and neck as well as shrug and steady the shoulders. It is also used the twist the arms. It elevates, depresses, rotates, and retracts the scapula.

Latissimus Dorsi

The Latin translation of this muscle means broadest (latissimus) back (dorsum). So this is the broadest of the back muscles. This is more commonly referred to as the "lats" when talking about exercising. This muscle helps with the internal rotation of the shoulder joint and other shoulder movements.

Erector Spinae

This is a muscle group that extends the vertebral column. It is also known as sacrospinalis in older texts and in more modern terms it's called the extensor spinae. This is not just one muscle but rather a group of muscles and tendons. It is paired and basically runs vertically.

The erector spinae provides movements and postures. It straightens the back and provides the rotation from side to side.

Additional Articles

Benefits of Stretching
Often people will skip the step to warm up or cool down and stretch. However, these are important parts of any workout. Find out more about the benefits of stretching.

Abdominal Exercises
When talking about core muscles, these include the back and abdominal muscles (plus a couple more). So don't forget to do some abdominal strengthening exercises in your routines.

Eating After Exercise
Refuel your body after your workouts. Read this article to learn more.

Back Pain Exercises
Here's an article from Everyday Health on back pain and proper back exercises.