Do this one exercise to build strength in your lower back

Have you tried 'good mornings'?

Woman with barbell on back
(Image credit: Getty)

Our back is precious; it’s what supports our entire body, so we need to look after it. However, let's be honest, many of us are guilty of not doing this until an injury occurs and it’s too late. Don’t make this mistake. Now, there’s no more excuses as this one exercise, according to an expert, will do just that and should be included in your fitness regime (if it's not already). You can either use a dumbbell, barbell or no equipment at all, so it’s accessible to all.

Our lower back, in particular, is hugely important as it makes up our core, which is responsible for keeping us stable, our posture, preventing injuries — the list really does go on. According to the NHS, back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, while the National Institute For Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say that around four per cent of adults below the age of 45 suffer from chronic lower back pain. So, if you don't do any movements to strengthen your back, now's the time.

Although in the video above by Dr. Aaron Horschig this exercise is being performed with a barbell, as we stated earlier, it doesn’t have to be. It’s what’s known as a ‘good morning’ — most probably because it’s an up-down movement, which is similar to when people would raise their hats to say ‘good morning’.  It's a slightly more advanced move (especially when performed using a barbell) and it should be done slow and controlled. As well as working your lower back it also works your glutes and hamstrings too.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Start with your feet a little more than hip width apart and have a slight bend in the knee. If you’re using a barbell, rest it on top of your traps (a high barbell squat position), if you’re using a dumbbell then hold it in the same position.
  • Inhale and push your hips backwards (imagine that you want to get your bum to touch an imaginary wall behind you) and slowly lower forwards keeping your back straight. Do this to a position that feels comfortable for you and you should also feel a stretch in the back of your hamstrings.
  • Hold for a second, then come back up to starting position, exhaling as you do, and repeat. If you're a beginner, start with three sets of 5 to 8 reps to master the movement, then gradually build up.

Make sure your weight is spread evenly across your entire foot to keep you stable. For example, if too much emphasis is placed on the heels you’ll find your toes lifting off of the ground and your weight shifting backwards. Also, you do not have to lower yourself parallel to the floor, so please do not feel obliged to do so, as you may end up injuring yourself. 

If you want to perform this exercise with weights, but don’t have any, then check out the best barbells and best dumbbells, to make this move a little harder.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.