Lower Back Exercises?

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by sebape, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. sebape

    sebape Double-Digit Post Count


    So i'v recently started thinking "when was the last time i did lower back specific exercises like "Superman"?
    Is this something you need to do in Calisthenics or do i get enough lower back training from other core and ab exercises like Leg raises (hanging, on dip bars and on floor), L-Sit, Plank, Back lever, front lever (semi tucked atm). Maybe even push ups strengthens your lower back?

    what's your experiences about this?

  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement and Forum Admin Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @sebape, IMHO, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  3. masa

    masa Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum

    I've done lotsa hyperextensions etc. lately due to rehab. Many starts to do these when somehing goes broken;).
  4. sebape

    sebape Double-Digit Post Count

    yeah, pretty much what i thought. I have a tendency to overthink everything i do.

  5. sebape

    sebape Double-Digit Post Count

    i hear that!

  6. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement and Forum Admin Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Isn't a back lever a Superman in the air?

    Augustus F-N likes this.
  7. Sergej

    Sergej Triple-Digit Post Count

    @sebape :
    i would strongly suggest superman aka jack lalanne push ups, with all the different variations and neck bridges if you have just the floor.

    other options:
    - ab wheel
    -reverse hyperextensions
    -dragon flag
    -one leg squat
    -one leg curl
    -elbow/head bridge
    -wall walking
    Augustus F-N likes this.
  8. Augustus F-N

    Augustus F-N Triple-Digit Post Count

    I largely agree with what @Steve Freides wrote. I did a few years of calisthenics without lower back exercises (just pull ups, push ups and squats, with progressive variations) and no harm seemed to come of it. And it gave me more time to concentrate on what I enjoyed and wanted to get good at.

    Training the posterior chain as a whole with a hinging movement I would say was more worthwhile. Since I've been training a hinge (kettlebell swings), my posture and back have been feeling great. Even though I never had back problems, it just feels better to be stronger in the posterior chain. In that sense I agree with @masa ; you might be able to get away without training the lower back/posterior chain (as I got away with it); but you could also be missing out on a great deal. Maybe chuck in just a set or two of bridges at the beginning or end of your workout. Try it for a couple of weeks. If you feel it's beneficial, keep it. If not, get rid.
  9. 305pelusa

    305pelusa Strong, Powerful Member of the Forum

    Every exercise you mention is an anterior exercise (except the back lever). They might strengthen the lower back by virtue of the fact that calisthenics demands really high full-body contractions. But they won't strengthen it anywhere near as much as your abdominal region.

    I don't think you need to do it. But if you're looking to be well-rounded in terms of strength (and isn't that what we want after all?), I think it definitely must be trained. It gets very neglected in calisthenics.

    Supermans, hyperextensions, bridging and Pistols will all strengthen it well. My secret choice however are the Handstand Presses. The HS Press is the hanging leg raise equivalent for the lower back.

    For most people, developing a solid Headstand Press will be enough. It'll really iron out your back. If you want more, you can progress to the Handstand Press. Once you have a solid HS Press (using a wall if you'd like), I think you'll have built a seriously strong lower back.

    As @Augustus F-N mentioned, hip hinging is the way to go. The HS Press is the calisthenics "hip hinge" of choice in my book.

    That's a reasonable point but I'd argue the point of training a neglected area is precisely to strengthen it (even though nothing is wrong) such that you minimize the chances that it even breaks at all in the future ! ^_^
  10. Brett Jones

    Brett Jones Director of Education, Chief of SFG Staff Member Master Instructor

    What is your overall routine?
    I can't say something is missing without knowing the whole routine.
    offwidth likes this.
  11. pet'

    pet' Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum


    Prone back extensions, supermans, donkey kicks, bridges may be some ideas to work on lower back extension to balance flexion exercises such as sit ups.

    Kind regards,

  12. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement and Forum Admin Staff Member Senior Instructor

    This becomes an "is the glass half empty or half full?" sort of thing. IMHO.

    One cannot specifically prepare for everything so one must be prepared to deal with what you didn't prepare for. There is no "complete" training, IMO. That you didn't train an area doesn't constitute neglect. And forgive me for being harsh, but unless you make your living being an athlete, trying to be "complete" means devoting a lot of precious time to exercise; that time could better be used in other pursuits. My idea of complete:

    1. Pull something heavy towards yourself - deadlift or swing.

    2. Push something heavy away from yourself - press or getup.

    3. Walk (or run, or ride a bike, or swim, or cross-country ski, or row).

    4. Have variety days - roll around on the ground, stand on your head, stretch, play.

    JMO and YMMV.

    Oscar and Shahaf Levin like this.
  13. 305pelusa

    305pelusa Strong, Powerful Member of the Forum

    I just want to be clear that I completely agree. Like I said, it's a very valid point.

    I just want to reiterate that I don't think it's as simple as "if it's not an issue now, don't address it). I think other factors come into play.

    Our job is to determine whether the extra time and effort is even worthwhile. Maybe you won't develop issues without it. Maybe you will even though you do it! Such is the inherent uncertainty of prehab work.

    If it works, you'd never know it!
  14. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement and Forum Admin Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Agreed, but what are those other factors? IMHO, they're highly individual, hence my suggestion not to strive for "complete" in an abstract, academic way.

  15. 305pelusa

    305pelusa Strong, Powerful Member of the Forum

    Oh many of them.

    Past history: Have you had issues with that body part in the past? Perhaps a little extra training would be a good idea.

    Time available: Can you afford the extra time for the sets needed?

    Level of enthusiasm: If you don't want to even perform the work. Personally, my calves never get trained. But I also don't care for calf training. So I don't really do it.

    And so on.

    They're very much individualistic. That's why you can't just have a rule of thumb of "don't do it if it's not an issue". Because maybe you should still do it even though it's not a problem today.

    My suggestion (if you look back to it) is that you don't need to do it. But if you want to be well-rounded, then you should. Again, you don't HAVE to be well rounded or complete. I agree with you. But if you WANT to be, then yeah I think you should do lower back specific work.

    Does that make sense?
  16. Groove Greaser

    Groove Greaser Triple-Digit Post Count

    Personally, I've gotten great benefit from adding the Jefferson Curl with a light kettlebell into my routine. But I have extremely tight hamstrings which, I believe, contributed to my lower back issues.

    Some Caveats:
    - Know that they are "controversial"
    - If you try, don't use a heavy weight!
    - In fact don't use a weight at all at first.

    I don't think they're for everyone - but they are amazing for some people (and I'm not anatomically smart enough yet to know the difference).

    I thought I'd pitch this one in since I don't see it talked about too much around here (though that might be for a very specific reason).

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