Are you fed up with lower back pain? Give your back a break and build muscle! Lifting groceries, playing sports, or sitting at your computer all require a strong lower back. How better to target those muscles than with squats?
Squats strengthen your legs, glutes, and lower back. Squats can reduce discomfort, increase flexibility, and stabilize this sensitive spot by exercising neighboring muscles. We’ll examine squat modifications geared to relieve your lower back.
Benefits of squat exercises for the lower back
Squats are wonderful for lower back health and leg strength. One benefit is that squats improve the erector spinal and multifidus muscles in your lower back. These muscles are essential for spinal stability and posture.
Squatting works your core, including your lower back. Strengthening these core muscles improves stability and reduces daily injury risk. Squats increase hip and ankle flexibility. Better movement mechanics throughout regular activities can reduce lower back stress with this flexibility.
Increased physical strength is another benefit. Compound squats work in numerous muscular groups. Over time, lifting bigger weights or doing more repetitions will strengthen your entire body, including your lower back.
Squats improve functional fitness. A strong lower back makes bending down to pick up objects or getting out of a chair easy. As with any fitness regimen, start cautiously and build intensity as tolerated. Use good squatting form to avoid lower back pain.
Traditional Back Squat Technique and Safety Tips
The classic back squat works the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. This workout requires good technique and safety considerations.
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Pull your belly button toward your spine to engage your core. Use a padded squat rack or trapezius muscles to support a barbell over your upper back.
Squat with your knees and hips bent to parallel or below the ground. Look forward, keep your chest erect, and avoid curving your lower back.
Pushing through your heels as you stand up engages the glutes and hamstrings. Exhaling while pressing up stabilizes core muscles.
Remember these safety tips: Always start with lighter weights before moving to heavier ones; use spotter arms or have someone spot you for safety; never let the knees collapse inward; listen to pain signals to avoid injury; don’t rush—take time with each rep for better form.
With good technique and safety precautions, classic back squats can strengthen your lower back and reduce injury risk!
Try the split squat for lower back squatting. This exercise works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back. Stand hip-width apart with one foot in front of the other to split squat.
Step forward with one foot while pointing straight ahead. Lunge until your back knee almost touches the floor. Good posture and keeping your front knee above your ankle are essential.
Adjusting lunge depth or adding dumbbells for resistance can modify split squats for different fitness levels. Perform slow, controlled reps or explosive movements to change up the tempo.
By adding split squats to your workout, you’ll strengthen and stabilize multiple muscle groups and relieve your lower back. Go ahead, try it!
Goblet squats work the lower back, core, and legs. This variation is ideal for beginners or those with balance issues during back squats. Start a goblet squat by holding a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest with both hands.
Position your feet hip-width apart and toes slightly out. With your chest up and weight in your heels, descend into a deep squat. Goblet squats improve form and technique. The weight helps you stay balanced and aligned during the movement.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are a challenging lower-back squat variation. One foot is lifted onto a bench or step while the other remains on the ground.
Start in a split stance with your front foot 2–3 feet from the bench and your back leg straight behind you. Keep your chest up and core engaged as you slowly lower into a lunge.
Maintain proper form and balance while descending. Your front knee should not extend past your toes, while your back knee should hover just above the ground.
The Bulgarian Split Squat helps your lower back. Squatting engages the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core, improving stability and strength. Unilaterally performing this exercise can also help identify and address muscular imbalances or weaknesses between legs.
Working out with Bulgarian split squats can improve lower back health and functional strength. You should start with lighter weights or no weights until you master proper form and feel comfortable with this exercise.
Other variations and modifications for different fitness levels
Lower back squats can be modified for different fitness levels. You can challenge yourself without hurting your lower back, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete.
Some modifications include the box squat, which uses a bench or box for support. Balance and control improve, especially if you struggle with squat depth. Sitting on the box before standing up lets you engage your glutes and hamstrings while relieving lower back stress.
For more stability during squats, resistance bands around the knees can activate the hip muscles and prevent knee inward movement. Holding dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides instead of your shoulders adds resistance without compromising form.
Instead of behind your shoulders, the front squat places the barbell in front. The lower back strain is reduced and your core muscles are used more for stability.
Listen to your body and adjust as needed, regardless of fitness level. Do not continue if it hurts your lower back or feels wrong. Consult a professional trainer to assess proper form and technique.
Additional tips for preventing lower back pain during squats
- Practice proper squatting form to avoid lower back pain. Squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out, and knees over your toes. Keep your chest up and your core engaged.
- Warm-up and activate your lower back muscles before doing heavy squats. To prepare for the workout, do leg swings or hip circles, followed by bodyweight squats.
- Use lighter weights or your body weight if you’re new to squatting or have lower back pain. Step up the load as you gain strength and form confidence.
- Build support muscles: Strong glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles protect the lower back during squats. To target these muscles, do deadlifts, hip thrusts, planks, and bridges.
- Don’t neglect mobility: Squats can cause lower back pain without flexibility. Before each squat, do deep lunges or foam rolling to loosen muscles.
- Listen to Your Body: Be aware of any discomfort during squats. Do not push through sharp or intense pain—this may indicate an injury rather than muscle fatigue!
You can reduce lower back pain and maximize squat benefits by adding these tips to your routine. If pain persists, see a doctor to rule out underlying issues and create a customized treatment plan.
Conclusion: Incorporate these exercises into your routine for a healthy and strong lower back
You know the importance of a healthy lower back and how squats can help. If you want to improve performance or relieve lower back pain, squats are a good workout.
Exercise safety should always come first. Check your form with the traditional back squat. As you gain strength and confidence, try split, goblet, and Bulgarian split squats to target different lower back muscle groups.
Everyone’s fitness and abilities vary. Modify exercises if you’re new or have pre-existing conditions or injuries. Follow your body’s pace and don’t overdo it.
There are other ways to avoid lower back pain during squats besides these exercises. Each session should start with dynamic hip, glute, hamstring, and core stretching. Make sure you’re wearing stable shoes.
Bill Yeager, Owner of Horizon Personal Training in CT, is a leading success coach, speaker, inspirational writer, personal trainer and fitness enthusiast. He’s helped over 500,000 people worldwide become inspired to transform their lives most widely known for becoming a Body-for-Life Champion for the 2001 Challenge. He is a fitness entrepreneur, the author of several fitness articles, books and president of personal training companies in Connecticut, aids as an adviser to other fitness businesses nationwide, an Amazon international best-selling author of the book Unleash Your Internal Drive, and Facebook public figure. He has been personally coached by Tony Robbins, a fire walker, has been on several popular podcasts and the news including Sharkpreneur with Kevin Harrington, FOX, NBC, and ABC.