Safe Weightlifting Techniques for The Back

Man holding his hand on his back, practicing safe weiughtlifting techniques for his back

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Strong, safe backs are important, but it can be hard to know where to start, right? Well fret no more – I’ve put together a sweet list of 10 safe back exercises that are perfect for newbies. They’re all easy to learn but will still give you results. Stick with me and you’ll be flexin’ those muscles in no time!

Key Takeaway

  • Always warm up before starting any weightlifting exercises to prevent injury.
  • Focus on proper form and technique, rather than lifting heavy weights, to effectively target back muscles.
  • Incorporate a variety of safe back exercises, such as rows, extensions, and pulldowns, to target different areas of the back and improve overall strength and stability.

10. Safe back exercises – Deadlift is on the list?

I often heard “Deadlifts are not safe”. Well, there is no one who can guarantee that any exercise is safe if you don’t do it properly. The deadlift is a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, and torso perpendicular to the floor, before being placed back on the ground.

The average Deadlift weight for a male lifter is 152 kg (1RM). This makes you Intermediate on Strength Level and is a very impressive lift.

What is a good Deadlift?

Male beginners should aim to lift 78 kg (1RM) which is still impressive compared to the general population. Lifting 100 kg in a deadlift is considered good.

9. Good-morning

It is a weight-training exercise. It is known as a good morning because of the movement in the erector spinae which resembles the bow that traditionally begins a schoolday in some East-Asian countries. The good-morning is a hip-hinging motion that will place significant stress on the lower back when loaded up with a barbell or kettlebell.

As you descend down, the low back has to work extra hard to maintain control of the force pressing against your mid-back by the weight. Similar to the bird dog, take these slow and steady to get a feel for loading weight.

8. Superman

This is a great exercise for stretching the lower back, upper back, and shoulders. I have already written about it HERE.

Lie on the floor in a prone (facedown) position, with your legs straight and your arms extended in front of you. Keeping your head in a neutral position (avoid looking up), slowly lift your arms and legs around 6 inches (15.3 cm) off the floor, or until you feel your lower back muscles contracting.

The Superman exercise is designed to strengthen and improve the stabilization of your lumbar and hip extensors. Because you’re also raising your shoulders in an ‘I’ formation, it’s also a useful exercise for improving strength and stability in your shoulder girdle and upper back musculature

  • Set/reps for results: Three sets of 10–12 reps should be enough.
Pro tip: It’s very important to keep your head and neck neutral throughout the exercise and avoid jerky movements. Instead, work on synchronizing the lift and lower of all four limbs with control.

7. Back extension

  • Why it’s on the list: Back extensions target your whole posterior chain — in other words, the back side of your body. They’re a great beginner exercise.
  • Muscles worked: Back extensions target your back extensor muscles or erector spinal muscles. Depending on the variation you’re doing, they also target your hamstrings and glutes to some extent.


  1. Lie facedown on an exercise ball with your abdomen on the center of the ball. Press the balls of your feet into the floor behind you to stay balanced. You can position your feet against a wall for added support.
  2. Extend your arms overhead, in line with your ears. Bend first at your waist, bringing your body down toward the floor. This is your starting position.
  3. Slowly raise your upper body and arms toward the sky until your shoulders are above hip height. Engage your core and glutes, and keep your feet on the floor.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top, then slowly lower down.
  5. Complete 1–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

6. 45 Degree Extension

The low back and the hips work in tandem, and this exercise emulates that. The key to allowing the hip to engage is ensuring that you maintain a bit of rigidity through the spine. Focus on not allowing your spine to round out so that almost all of your movement comes through low back and hip extension.

It’s a baseline exercise to work on getting that lower back moving from folding forward to getting all the way up through extension, but it’s going to play a huge role in a lot of other lifts that we do.

5. Inverted row

Inverted rows are good for your back and train the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and rear deltoids. The movement also works the biceps, which are used in many other back exercises and can help to improve posture and increase spine stability while minimizing injury risk and back pain.

Are inverted rows better than pull-ups?

What are the benefits of inverted rows vs. pullups/lat pulls… If you are looking to target the upper back muscles, improve posture, and develop overall upper body strength, inverted rows may be a better option. However, if your main goal is to specifically target the latissimus dorsi, pullups, and lat pulldowns may be more effective.

4. Kettlebell swing

The main focus is on the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals, and secondary to those come the quads, lats, adductors, and diaphragm. Whether you are new to kettlebell training or have been using kettlebells for a while, it can be challenging to know which weight to choose. The ideal weight for men beginners is from 26 lbs (12 kg) to 53 lbs (24 kg) and for women it is 18 lbs (8 kg) to 35 lbs (16 kg).

Are kettlebell swings better than deadlifts?

After 4 weeks, in 31 participants, no significant difference was seen in strength or vertical jump gains from the kettlebell swing or the deadlift group. That means that kettlebell swings can increase deadlift strength and in my case, kettlebell swings can replace the deadlift.

3. Lat pulldown

Lat pulldown is a popular exercise for increasing back muscle mass and achieving a V-shaped back. It works several muscles including the latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, rotator cuff, and biceps brachii.

To do a lat pulldown, sit at a lat pull machine, adjust the knee pad, reach up and grasp the bar a little wider than shoulder width, pull the bar down toward your upper chest, hold for 1-2 seconds, and slowly return to the starting position. You can vary the exercise by changing your grip on the bar or using a resistance band. Good form is important to avoid injury.

2. Plank

I used to say – the king exercise! Of all Safe back exercises, it is probably the safest. For what? Everything. Even if you are a total beginner, it is very hard to imagine how you can harm your body.

  1. Start on your hands and knees and extend your legs, balancing on your toes.
  2. Keep your neck long and core engaged.

On average, a beginner should aim to hold a plank for 15 to 30 seconds. If you are not a beginner, try three sets of up to 60 seconds.

Works your core, shoulders, back, glutes, and quads. This pose helps to build abdominal muscles and in many cases even boosts the development of muscles in other parts of the body (due to added core strength). With more muscle mass, you will burn more calories and this will regulate a healthy appetite.

If any exercise causes you pain or discomfort, you should stop doing the exercise and consult with a healthcare professional.

1. Renegade row

Our Safe back exercises list is coming to an end. The renegade row! It is a great exercise for strengthening your back, core, and arms. Shoulders too! It’s a full-body movement that can help improve your posture, stability, and overall strength. This exercise is especially good for people who do a lot of cycling, as it can help balance out the muscles used in that activity.

To do a renegade row, start in a high plank position with two dumbbells on the ground. Do a push-up, then row one dumbbell up to your side while keeping your core engaged. Lower the weight back down and repeat on the other side. This exercise can be challenging, so start with lighter weights and gradually increase as your back gets stronger.

What is the average Renegade Row?

Fitness Level Renegade Row Weight (lb)
Beginner 6 lb
Intermediate 61 lb

What is the difference between renegade row and dumbbell row?

The renegade row is done in a plank position and is nearly a full-body workout, plus balance components. The single-arm dumbbell row can be done in different positions, but most of them involve less leg, core, and balance work. Be careful — incorrect form could contribute to injuries. Do safe back exercises in the right way.


So there you have it, folks! We’ve covered some awesome exercises to strengthen your back and improve your posture. Remember, safety is key when it comes to weightlifting, so always make sure you’re using proper form and not lifting too heavy. Planks, rows, extensions, supermans, kettlebell swings, renegade rows, and lat pulldowns are all great moves to incorporate into your routine.

Let’s build a strong and healthy back together!

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