Table of Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back and Abs



Having a strong lower back and core can help you in many ways.

It can improve posture, help with balance and stability, prevent injury and relieve pain [1]. And the best part is that you don't need any special equipment to achieve these benefits. All you need to do are a few simple exercises that target these areas.

If you want to strengthen your lower back and abs, read on to discover 10 easy (and effective) exercises to do just that.


Lower back and ab strengtheners

Disclaimer:  Consult your doctor or other medical professional before beginning any new exercise regime to see if it is appropriate for your needs. This site offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with your doctor or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read on this site. See the full disclaimer.

1. Superman

The Superman is a simple but powerful isometric exercise. That's why it's called Superman! It helps you strengthen the erector spinae muscles, which are the muscles that run along the spine. Strengthening these muscles helps stabilize the spine, which can help reduce back pain and improve posture, balance and stability.

It also activates the abdominal muscles. Many studies say that the abdominal muscles contribute to the stability of the spine [2].

Muscles worked – Superman

  • Spinal erectors
  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Upper back and shoulders

How to the exercise – Superman

  1. Start lying face down on the mat with arms and legs extended.
  2. Lift your torso off the ground using your lumbar muscles while keeping your arms and legs raised as high as you can.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat 3 times.

Careful! Don't arch your back too much, you could injure yourself.

Advanced Modifiers - Superman

OPTION 1: As you gain strength, you can begin to hold the exercise for longer. That is, instead of doing 30 seconds, do 45, 60, etc

OPTION 2: You can also make the Superman hold more dynamic. When you're in Superman position, instead of holding, lower your legs and arms a little towards the floor (without touching it!) and then raise them back up again. Repeat this movement for three 30-second rounds, with a 10-second rest in between.

2. Cat-Cow

The Cat-Cow (a yoga pose) is an excellent way to stretch the back muscles and relieve tension, not only in the lower back, but also in the neck and shoulders. It's the perfect exercise to do when you've been sitting at a desk for most of the day.

How to the exercise – Gato-Vaca

  1. Get on all fours, with your shoulders aligned directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
  2. Inhale, arching your back towards the ceiling and bringing your shoulder blades towards each other.
  3. On the exhale, reverse this movement to enter cow pose, allowing the chest to fall forward and the shoulder blades to separate.
  4. Hold each pose for 3-5 breaths, alternating between the two poses.

Muscles activated – Gato-Vaca

  • Hip flexors
  • Abs
  • Muscles of the upper back, such as the trapezius muscles
  • Spinal erectors
  • Lower back muscles

3. Swimmers

The Pilates "Swimmers" exercise is a great way to strengthen the lower back muscles while stretching the spine. This exercise works the muscles in the back of the body, including the buttocks, thighs and back muscles. It also activates the abdominal muscles, such as the transverse abdominals, rectus abdominis and obliques.

How to the exercise - Swimmers

  1. Lie face down on the mat with your legs straight and together.
  2. Stretch your arms forward. Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Contract your core muscles (pulls your bellybutton towards your spine) so that your upper body lifts off the ground naturally.
  4. Keeping your arms straight, gently move them up and down in a paddling motion, while doing the same with your legs. As if you were swimming.
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds. Three times.

Muscles activated - Swimmers

  • Glutes
  • Thighs
  • Back
  • Abs and Core
    • Transverse Abdominis
    • Rectus abdominis
    • Obliques

4. Side plank

The Side Plank helps strengthen the obliques, core and lumbar muscles, which helps improve posture and balance. Specifically, this exercise works the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and obliques.

The side plank also helps strengthen the glutes and hip abductors, which can relieve some of the pressure on the lower back.

In addition, it helps work other core muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and deltoids. All of these muscles work together to support the spine, improve posture and keep the back straight.

How to the exercise - Side plank

  1. Lie on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other and your elbow just below your shoulder.
  2. Contract your abs while lifting your hips off the floor to form a straight line from head to toe. Be sure to keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Modifier: Beginners

If you find this exercise too challenging, you can rest your knees together on the mat. Just be sure to keep your body in a straight line from your neck to your knees.

Plancha lateral modificada

Muscles worked – Plancha Lateral

  • Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Lumbar quadrant
  • Glutes

5. Bird dog

Bird Dog not only helps develop your core muscles, but also improves coordination and balance, as well as joint stability. It can also help improve flexibility and range of motion in the hips.

How to the exercise – Bird Dog

  1. Get on all fours on your mat.
  2. Slowly extend one arm up and forward while doing the same with the opposite leg. Finish with those limbs in a straight line (or slightly elevated). 
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm and leg.
  4. Do 2 or 3 sets of 30 seconds each.

Muscles worked – Bird Dog

  • Spinal erectors
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Glutes

Modifier: Advanced

Hold a dumbbell in each hand while performing this exercise to increase the intensity of the Bird Dog.

6. Dead Bugs

The Dead Bugs exercise is an excellent way to work and strengthen core muscles. It helps activate the deep abdominals for core stability and, activates the glutes and hip abductors, which can help reduce low back pain.

This exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles that support the spine, improve posture and help reduce back pain.

How to the exercise – Dead Bugs

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended without touching the floor and your arms straight above your shoulders.
  2. Life your legs off the ground so they are at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Extend your left arm behind your head while extending your right leg straight until it is just above the floor.
  4. Slowly go back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the other side.
  6. Do three sets of 30 seconds.

Muscles worked – Dead Bugs

  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Obliques
  • Pelvic floor

7. Low plank

A classic core exercise that works all the abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominis which help support the spine.

How to the exercise – Plancha baja

  1. Start by kneeling on your mat.
  2. Lean forward and then place your hands and forearms on the mat. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
  3. Lift your hips upward, leaning on your toes, so that your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
  4. Contract your abdominal muscles and hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Muscles worked – Plancha Baja

  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • External and Internal Obliques
  • To a lesser degree: hamstrings, quads, deltoid, pecs, biceps, triceps and back muscles.

8. Glute bridge

Glute Bridge is an excellent exercise for strengthening the glutes, core muscles and lower back. It also activates the hip abductors, which help promote flexibility.

How to the exercise – Puente de glúteos

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.
  • Lift your hips off the floor with your heels, making sure to keep your abs contracted and your neck aligned with the rest of your spine.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Muscles worked - Glute Bridge

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Core

9. Clamshells

The Clamshells exercise is an excellent way to work and strengthen the lower back, hips, glutes and abdominals. It especially works the glutes. The glute muscles are responsible not only for hip stabilization, but also for power and balance.

It also activates the abdominal muscles, making it an effective movement for core strengthening.

How to the exercise – Clamshells

  1. Lie on your side with your feet together and legs bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Lift the top knee while keeping the feet together.
  3. Bring the knee back down and repeat the movement. Make sure to contract your abs as you do the exercise, and keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine.
  4. Do 30 seconds on each side. Three times.

Muscles worked – Clamshells

  • Glutes
  • Hips
  • Abs

Child's pose

Doing Child's Pose is a good way to stretch the spine, hips and back. It helps increase the flexibility of the lower body, while stretching the shoulders and opening the chest.

This exercise can help reduce stress and tension while calming the mind. It is the perfect exercise to relieve muscle tension in the lower back.

Postura del niño

How to do Child's Pose

  1. Start by kneeling on the mat with your feet together and your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Lean your torso forward and rest your forehead on the mat.
  3. Extend your arms forward, palms facing the floor.
  4. Relax here for a minimum of 60 seconds and concentrate on breathing deeply.

In conclusion...

These exercises can help you strengthen your lower back and core. They can help prevent or relieve low back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the spine, while also improving posture and increasing flexibility.

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Caty is an ISSA-certified personal trainer. She loves doing HIIT and core workouts.