5 Exercises to Tone Your Back Muscles

As well as strengthening your back, these exercises also exercise other parts of the body, so you can combine them to make a full routine
5 Exercises to Tone Your Back Muscles
Carlos Fabián Avila

Reviewed and approved by Doctor Carlos Fabián Avila.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

Back muscles are responsible for supporting the spine and are also important for the posture of the whole body.

They extend from the neck to the gluteal region and are used in movements throughout the day.

Unfortunately, they’re quite susceptible to injuries, not only because they’re used a lot, but because they also suffer from stress and bad posture.

In fact, the pains in this area occurs frequently and have become a major reason for disability in people of all ages.

For this reason, it’s important to exercise them regularly, doing activities that help to relax them while increasing their physical endurance.

In this article we want to share 5 simple exercises that can help strengthen them without leaving home.

1. Press-ups

Press-ups are a strengthening exercise for the upper body which also minimises back pain.

They allow the shoulders, arms, and lower back to work, increasing their physical resistance to prevent injuries.

How to do them

  • On a yoga mat or carpet, arrange yourself face down, resting on the tips of your feet and the palms of your hands, spreading your arms wide.
  • Contract your stomach muscles and make sure to keep your back straight before doing the press-up.
  • Then lower your chest, as if you’re going to touch the floor, until your elbows are in line with the shoulders.
  • Return to the starting position and perform 8 or 10 press-ups.
  • Complete 3 sets.

2. Squats with 1 and 2 legs

Squats are a toning and strengthening exercise which, as well as working the glutes and legs, are good for your back.

In this case we suggest starting with the classic 2-leg squat and, when you’ve mastered it, trying it with 1.

How to do them

  • Use a chair as a support and stand in front of it, with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms stretched.
  • Bend your knees, without them moving further forward than your toes, and perform the squat until your glutes are on the chair.
  • Make sure you keep your back straight and return to the starting position.
  • Do 10 or 12 repetitions, until you’ve completed 3 sets.
  • Once you master it, try to make the same movement, but with one leg.

3. Knees to the chest

This simple exercise helps to strengthen the lumbar area of ​​the back and is also good for the abdominal muscles.

How to do it

  • Lie on your back on a mat with both legs bent and your hands at your sides.
  • Next, raise your knees to your chest and hold them with your hands clasped.
  • Keep your back firm and try to hold 10 or 12 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat this 3 or 4 times.

4. Superman

The “superman” exercise, which we can also call a contralateral plank, is an activity that requires coordination and physical strength.

It focuses on working the back muscles, but is also good for the abdomen, buttocks, and legs.

In fact, this pose is ideal for enhancing balance and improving blood circulation.

How to do it

  • Put yourself on all fours on a mat, support yourself with the palms of your hands and knees bent.
  • Then extend the right arm and the left leg, in such a way that your body is resting on the opposite hand and knee.
  • Hold this for 3 or 5 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other arm and the other leg.
  • Perform 8 or 10 repetitions per side, until you’ve completed 3 sets

5. Frontal lifts

The frontal lifts strengthen the upper body, including the back, arms and cervical area.

Dumbbells or some type of weight element should be used, as this is crucial for toning and strengthening muscles.

How to do it

  • Stand up, with your back straight, your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold a weight in each hand and then raise your arms so that they’re in front of your body, right in the line of sight of your eyes.
  • Count 2 or 3 seconds and lower your body, slowly, without dropping your arms.
  • Perform 12 repetitions, until you’ve completed 3 sets.

Ready to try them out? If you’re not devoting a few minutes to strengthening your back, try these simple exercises and start incorporating them into your routine.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Wong, A. Y., Karppinen, J., & Samartzis, D. (2017). Low back pain in older adults: risk factors, management options and future directions. Scoliosis and spinal disorders, 12, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13013-017-0121-3
  • Khalil TM, Asfour SS, Martinez LM, et al. Stretching in the rehabilitation of low-back pain patients. Spine. 1992 Mar;17(3):311-317. DOI: 10.1097/00007632-199203000-00012.
  • Behm, D. G., Leonard, A. M., Young, W. B., Bonsey, W. A., & MacKinnon, S. N. (2005). Trunk muscle electromyographic activity with unstable and unilateral exercises. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 19(1), 193–201. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4287(2005)19<193:TMEAWU>2.0.CO;2
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 51(1), 94–103. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764
  • Stephanie Freeman, Amy Karpowicz, John Gray, And Stuart Mcgill. 2006. Quantifying Muscle Patterns and Spine Load during Various Forms of the Push-Up. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f358/bf7cca44de0a1e6072929f2962023027f3ef.pdf

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.