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Effective Lower Back Exercises: No Weights Required

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 12/31/2009

If you have a weak back, or have suffered from lower back injuries, lower back exercises that work without weights are essential. Building strength in the lower back without risking further damage with weights is possible with the following lower back exercises.

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    Back Exercises without Weights

    Lifting weights may be the most popular form of strength training, but if you have had a lower back injury, weights might not be the best choice. Some people find that weights put too much strain on the back, resulting in pain. Fortunately, you don't need weights to strengthen your back. Try these lower back exercises if you want to strengthen these muscles as well as increase flexibility and range of motion in the lower back. I have suggested repetitions for each of the exercises below, but feel free to start with less reps if needed. When back pain is an issue, don't overdo it. Instead, start out at a comfortable level, and slowly increase your workload to avoid pain and soreness.

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    Back Extensions on an Exercise Ball

    Lie on an exercise ball, facing the ball, using the ball to balance you at the hips. Take a deep breath and extend your upper body, arching your back as you lift yourself up. Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering yourself to the starting position. Repeat 10-20 times.

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    Upward Facing Dog

    Lie on the floor on your stomach. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, lift your head, neck, chest and upper back off the floor. Look forward as you lift yourself. It doesn't matter how high you are able to lift, just find a place where you feel a stretch, but no pain. Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds before slowly lowering yourself to the ground. Repeat this exercise 4-5 times.

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    Cat Stretch

    Position yourself on all fours. Make sure your back and neck are in a straight, neutral alignment. Take a deep breath in, and arch your back, pulling in your stomach muscles. You'll look like a cat arching her back. You should feel a stretch, but it shouldn't be painful. Make sure to keep your neck relaxed. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds. Then relax the back and return to a neutral position. Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.

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    Arm-Leg Reach

    The arm-leg reach is a pilates and yoga exercise that strengthens the lower back. Position yourself on the floor on all fours. Slowly lift your left leg and right arm off the floor at the same time. The higher the lift, the more advanced the exercise. Hold the lift for 3-5 seconds, then lower to the floor. Do 5-10 repetitions. Repeat the exercise lifting your right leg and left arm.