A strong back can help prevent bad posture and injury. It can also help you perform complex and compound exercises properly and safely, making it a necessary muscle group to train on a regular basis.

Building a stronger and more stable back doesn’t require a complex training routine. Try this lower-back strengthening workout and build a stable lower back.

The following workout is derived from the work of Jordan Shallow and Stuart McGill, PhD, who have designed programs specifically to strengthen the lower back and core. 

Beginner: complete 3 trisets of bird dogs, side planks and Stuart McGill sit-ups

Bird dogs – 12 reps, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Begin on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, your knees directly under your hips and your back relatively flat
  • Slowly raise your left arm forward as you simultaneously extend your right leg backward
  • Once both your leg and arm are in line with your torso, pause briefly before you begin to lower both limbs back to the starting position
  • Repeat on the other side for one rep

Side planks – 30 seconds intervals on each side, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Begin on your side with your forearms flat on the floor, your bottom elbow directly under your shoulder and both legs extended
  • Your feet can either be staggered for stability or stacked for more of a challenge
  • Engage your core and lift your hips off the floor, forming a straight line from your head to your feet
  • Pause at the top of this movement before lowering your hips back down to the starting position for one rep
  • Be sure to breath into the lower abdomen and lower back in a slow controlled manner throughout the duration of this movement

Stuart McGill sit-ups – 12 to 15 reps reps, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Begin laying on your back with your arms crossed over your chest
  • Bend your left knee and plant your left foot on the floor
  • Engage your core and keep your neck and head in a neutral position as you lift your chest upward
  • Pause briefly at the top of this movement before lowering yourself back down to the ground for one rep
  • Complete the designated amount of reps before switching legs and repeating the movement on the opposite side

Progression: Complete 3 trisets of ab wheel rollouts, Copenhagen planks and single-leg Romanian deadlifts

Ab wheel rollouts – 12 reps, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Begin on all fours, with your knees on the mat and your palms planted on the floor
  • Grip the ab wheel firmly with both hands
  • Position your shoulders over your hands and your knees hip-width apart
  • Keep your pelvis in a neutral position and contract your core before slowly leaning your upper body forward
  • Wheel out as far as you can while maintaining a strong core
  • Pause for a moment before slowly wheeling yourself back to the starting position for one rep

Copenhagen planks – 30 second intervals on each side, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Begin in a side plank position with your left forearm on the floor and your left elbow stacked directly below your shoulder
  • Lift your hips upward, extend your legs and place the inside of your left foot on the end of a stable bench
  • Rest your right foot on the ground
  • Hold for the designated amount of time before completing the exercise on the opposite side

Single-leg Romanian deadlifts – 12 reps, followed by 20 to 30 seconds of rest

  • Start in a shoulder-width stance, with your arms extended and draped at your sides
  • Bend at the hips and slowly lower your hands towards your feet, stopping once you’ve gone as far as your hips will allow you
  • Your hips should move horizontally backward, rather than downwards, and your legs should remain mostly straight with just a slight bend in the knees
  • Keep your arms close to your body, almost as if you are sliding them down your legs
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement, exhale and drive through your heels to return to a standing position for one rep