Back Exercises for Rehab and Performance

November 3, 2012 | Mo Skelton

Must See Strength Training Videos

Just like athletes, back exercises come in all shapes and sizes and have various strengths and weaknesses. Individual techniques are more effective in different rehab phases, but all help with athletic performance.

Don't let the following long list of exercises scare you. They're the best of the best for athlete training. Although some may be challenging, they're not exhaustive. Each exercise will uniquely train the upper- or lower-back muscles so they can function appropriately, leaving you at your best in the weight room and the competitive arena.

Bird Dog in Quadruped

Immediately following a lumbar spine tissue injury (typically a disc tissue), the muscles of the lower lumbar spine are weak and unable to stabilize. That's why people with back injuries often have forward flexed posture. They have to  overcompensate with their abdominals. This exercise is good for rehabilitative stability after an injury, to restore muscle function and teach proper breathing.

Stabilizing in Space

The muscles between each spinal segment, called the multifidi, help control spine position. Effective training for these muscles involves positioning on all fours, as with:

See STACK's Plank Guide for these variations and more.

Overhead Squat

Use a broomstick or a loaded barbell. This exercise helps maintain mobility of the thoracic spine, hips and ankles.

Goblet Squat

Challenges the abdominals and strengthens the hips and low back.

Front Loaded Step-Up

With the front load and the unilateral movement, the obliques are trained as they try to maintain postural stability.

Back Squat

Old school but still one of the best. Loading the spine trains the muscles of the back to do their job of stabilizing a load.

Lunges with Dumbbells

When weight is held at the side, it helps strengthen the postural muscles.

Deadlift

For total body strength but also challenges the lumbar stabilizers.

Lat Pulldowns

Can be performed seated or with one arm at a time while in a lunge position to make it more functional.

Anti-Rotation Exercises

Moves like the Pallof Press train the obliques and the rotators of the low back.

TRX Push-Ups

These work on all the stabilizing structures of the low back, upper back and core.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift and Single Leg Good Morning

These are especially helpful for training overall balance and strength of the back and hamstrings.

Farmer's Walks

A great way for athletes to develop postural strength, endurance and overall stability.

Kettlebell Swing

Trains the hip hinge, which carries over to other exercises and improves the ability to maintain posture while fatigued.

Pull-Ups

Great to create strength in the secondary stabilizers of the upper back and to train the latissimus dorsi. Pull-Ups have a large fascial base that creates secondary stability in the lumbar area.

Good Morning, Romanian Deadlift, Reverse Hyperextension and Glute Ham Raise

These are all accessory lifts that strengthen the back, core, glutes and hamstrings to improve their ability to maximize all other strength lifts.

Topics: REHAB | BACK
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Must See
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,742
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,055,677

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,738
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 8,003
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 131,367
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,255
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,651
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,761
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

Beginners to resistance training can perform almost any form of resistance exercise and still make significant gains. However for the immediate and...

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout