Bent Over Row
The Bent Over Row is great for your upper and lower back, and it even hits your biceps and shoulders effectively. However, a lot of the strain is placed on your lower back, thanks to the fact that you have no support as you row. It's hard to get the form on this one right, so those with lower back pain should do Single Arm Dumbbell Rows or Reverse Pull-ups instead.
Straight Leg Deadlift
If this exercise is done with the right form, it's one of the best lower body workouts you can do. It will hit your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back in one exercise, but it's very hard to get the form right. Most people tend to round out their backs as they lower the weight, putting all of the strain on your back and drastically increasing your risk for injury. Unless you're doing it just right, better avoid it!
If you place all of the weight on your back, doing squats can lead to some pretty wicked back injuries. Back Squats tend to cause people to round out their backs and lean forward to compensate for the added weight, which can place extra strain on your lower back. If you're not keeping your back straight and your head up, you're risking injury!
Double Leg Raises
While Leg Raises are great for your abs and core, lifting both legs at the same time can lead to a strain on your lower back. Your back almost always arches as you lift your legs, leading to hyperextension of your back muscles and possible back strains. If you must do this exercise, put your hands under your butt for added support.
You'd think that both Sit-ups and Crunches are great for your core, but studies have shown that they are actually some of the least effective core exercises around. To make things worse, the exercise places a lot of strain on not just your lower back, but your upper back as well. You often tend to pull on your neck as you sit up, and this hits the upper back muscles. When your hips have to flex to pull your body off the floor to complete the sit-up, your lower back feels the strain. Best to do Plank for a solid core!
Many people trying to work their side muscles (obliques) will turn to this bad boy for effectiveness. However, the fact that you are twisting your upper body while keeping your lower body in the same position is a bit awkward for your back. It can place unnecessary strain on your spine and back muscles, and may even result in nerve damage. Better opt for Wood Choppers or Side Bends!
Also known as "Supermans," this is one of the best lower back exercises you can do. However, the fact that you are moving means that there is a greater chance of injury, particularly if you don't maintain tight form. Don't move too quickly, don't jerk, and keep your movements slow and steady to ensure that you get the exercise just right!
Take care of your back and find the smart ways to exercise!
Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise -- he does so six days a week -- and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.