10 Best Lower Back Machine Exercises to Strengthen and Protect Your Back

The lower back is a complex and important part of the body. It provides support for the spine and facilitates our mobility. However, the lower back is also prone to injury. That’s why it’s important to exercise regularly to make the lower back muscles stronger.

Machine exercises are a highly effective and safe method of strengthening the lower back. They allow you to isolate the lower back muscles and focus on proper form. This helps to reduce the risk of injury.

This guide will tell you why machine exercises are good for your lower back and which machines you should look at in the gym. Best exercises and how to create an effective lower back workout routine using a gym machine.

Want to take your gains to the next level? Discover your daily calorie needs with our free TDEE calculator

How To Strengthen Your Lower Back With Machine

Machines allow you to target all areas of the back muscles from multiple angles and through a full range of motion. Adjusting body position, weight load, and cable attachments, you can alter your grip and activate your lower back muscles in unique ways.

To structure an effective lower back workout on machines for building strength, mass and endurance, the number of reps and sets will depend on your current fitness level, workout frequency, and goals.

  • For pure strength gains, do 4 to 6 sets of 1 to 6 reps for each exercise, using a weight that is at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM). The lower the reps, the closer to 100% 1RM you should aim.
  • If your priority is hypertrophy (muscle growth), perform 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps per exercise, with loads between 70-85% of your 1RM.
  • For muscular endurancehigher reps (15-20) and moderate weights (50-70% 1RM) are recommended.

10 Best Lower Back Exercises With Machines

Whether you’re looking to correct muscle imbalances, straighten up your posture, or build up your strength. You must add these machine exercises to your back workout routine.

The 10 best machine lower back exercises to help you build a stronger, healthier back. These exercises include back extension, reverse hyperextension and smith machine deadlifts, and many more.

1. Back Extension

The Back Extension Machine is an essential piece of gym equipment specifically designed to target the muscles in your lower back. This machine is often found in both commercial and home gyms. It aims to strengthen your back and improve your posture.

For beginners and those recovering from an injury, the machine offers a safer alternative to free weights, since it provides a controlled range of motion. It’s a simple exercise to learn, so you can start using it right away.

Back Extension

How To Do

  1. Lie face down on the back extension machine. Adjust the pad so that it supports your thighs and hips.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and secure your feet under the footplates. Keep your knees in line with your hips.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands gently at the side of your head.
  4. Exhale and raise your upper body up until your shoulders, spine, and hips are in line. Engage your core and gently slide your shoulders back.
  5. Inhale as you lower yourself back to the starting position, ensuring a controlled movement.
  6. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps, depending on your comfort and fitness level.


  • Do the exercise slowly and with control to improve stability and strength by activating specific muscles.
  • Ensure a straight (and neutral) spine throughout the exercise.
  • Don’t arch your back or round your shoulders.

2. Reverse Hyperextension

The reverse hyperextension is an exercise that targets the lower back muscles, particularly the erector spinae. It’s a multipurpose workout that can also be used to strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. It is a low-impact exercise that is good for people with a weak back.

If you’re new, you may start with just the weight of your legs or add minimal weight and increase as you become more comfortable.

Reverse Hyperextension

How to Do

  1. Lie facing downwards on the hyperextension machine with your upper body and stomach on the bench, and secure your legs under the rollers.
  2. Allow your legs to hang towards the floor and grip the handles.
  3. Exhale and lift your legs up by contracting your glutes and lower back muscles.
  4. Your legs should form a straight line with your torso at the top of the movement.
  5. Lower your legs back to the starting position slowly and inhaling as you do it.
  6. Aim for two or three sets of 8 to 15 reps


  • Avoid overarching your lower back. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Make sure you control the descent and don’t allow gravity to drop your torso down.
  • Start with your bodyweight and gradually add resistance over time.

3. Glute Ham Raise

The glute ham raise is a bodyweight exercises that targets the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. This exercise is typically performed on a Glute Ham Developer machine and is a staple in strength and conditioning programs.

The glute ham raise is an effective target the hamstrings during the eccentric (lowering) portion. It also enhances lower back and spinal health due to the isometric contraction required to keep the spine neutral during the exercise.

Glute Ham Raise

How To Do

  1. The footplate and hip pad on the Glute Ham Developer machine should be adjusted to your height and comfort.
  2. Lie face down on the platform and grasp the handles at the sides of the platform.
  3. Position yourself so that your knees are just behind the pad, and your feet are secured under the footplate.
  4. Keep your upper body straight from your knees to your head as you lower your upper body forward.
  5. Hold the position for a second, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Avoid hyperextending your back at the top of the movement. Keep a neutral spine to minimize risk.
  • As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can hold a weight plate to your chest to increase resistance.

4. Seated Back Extension

Seated Back Extension is a variation of the classic back extension exercise but performed in a seated position. This exercise uses a machine to help strengthen the muscles in the lower back, also called the lumbar region.

The seated position allows you to isolate your lower back muscles more effectively than some other types of back exercises. It provides a safer and more controlled way to work your lower back without putting undue stress on your spine.

There are several setup variations for the machine, but these differences in the backrest, footrest, leg clamps, or presence of handles for stabilization don’t affect the exercise much.

Seated Back Extension

How To Do

  1. Adjust the machine so the roller pad is at your upper back when seated. Select an appropriate weight to use.
  2. Sit upright with your upper back pressed against the roller pad. Grip the handles at your sides.
  3. Keep your chest lifted, eyes looking forward, and plant your feet firmly on the footrests.
  4. Start the movement by extending your hips and lumbar spine and pushing the roller to the rear.
  5. Pause for a moment at the end of the range of motion.
  6. Inhale as you slowly return back to the starting position with control.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Start with a lighter weight and increase only when you can perform 15 repetitions with ease.
  • Make sure you perform the exercise slowly and controlled in order to avoid swinging your upper body.

5. Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift

If you’re looking for a straightforward lower back workout that you can do with a machine to build back strength, then stiff leg smith deadlift, is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is a variation of the deadlift and an exercise used primarily to target the muscles of the hamstrings and gluteals.

The stiff-leg deadlift for hamstrings requires a lighter weight than that used during traditional powerlifting for strengthening the lower back and legs.

Smith Machine Stiff-Legged Deadlift

How To Do

  1. Set the Smith bar to thigh level and stand facing the barbell with your feet around shoulder width apart.
  2. Grab it with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Keep your back straight, head up, and hips low, lift the barbell into a standing position.
  3. Flex your knees a little and push your hips backward and slowly lower the barbell down the front of your legs.
  4. Lower the bar down as far as your hamstrings will let you comfortably. Now engage the hamstrings and begin to raise the bar straight back up.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Keep your knees stiff, your back and arms straight, and your head up.
  • Do not allow the bar to drift away from your body during the lift. Keep the barbell close to your body.
  • Your eyes should be facing up and your shoulders back. This will prevent your lower back from rounding.

6. Smith Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is a popular exercise that works the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles to strengthen them.

The Smith machine allows you to load up on big weights and focus all of that loading into the glutes so that they get the best workouts.

This also gives you a good range of motion and the kind of continuous tension that really works the lower back and hip muscles.

Smith Hip Thrust

How To Do

  1. Sit on the bench with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward.
  2. Slide your legs under the smith machine bar and sit on the floor with your back against the side of a bench. The barbell should be over your hips.
  3. Grasp the bar at each side. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, approximately shoulder-width apart.
  4. Keeping your torso rigid, exhale as you raise the bar by extending your hips until they are fully extended.
  5. Inhale as you lower the barbell by flexing your hips. Do not allow the barbell to touch the floor.


  • If the bar hurts your pelvis, use padding.
  • Keep your torso rigid. Your back shouldn’t arch, and your pelvis shouldn’t tilt.
  • All the movement should occur in your hips.

7. Smith Machine Good Morning

Good Mornings are a classic strength-training exercise that targets the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. When you do the exercise on a Smith Machine, it becomes more controlled and focused. It allows for a better isolation of the targeted lower back muscles.

The Smith Machine provides a guided bar path, which makes it easier to maintain proper form.

Smith Machine Good Morning

How To Do

  1. Set the Smith Machine bar at about chest height and load it with the appropriate weight.
  2. Stand facing away from the machine, feet shoulder-width apart. Put the bar over your upper traps and shoulders.
  3. Straighten up, lifting the bar off the hooks, and take a step or two backward. Keep your back straight and knees slightly bent.
  4. Lower your upper body forward from the hips. Go down until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  5. Exhale as you lift your upper body back up to the starting position.
  6. Aim for two or three sets of 8 to 15 reps


  • Maintain a tight core and flat back throughout the descent. Avoid rounding your spine.
  • Use a controlled tempo – don’t release the weight at the bottom.
  • Start with bodyweight or light weight to get the form right before increasing the load.The Smith Machine provides a guided bar path, making it easier to maintain proper form throughout the movement.

8. T-Bar Row

If you are looking to add freshness and variety to your back workouts and give yourself a new challenge, give this landmine row exercise a try. It is a very beneficial and empowering exercise that strengthens the lower back.

Landmine rows are a challenging exercise, but it is essential to build a strong back in order to develop a quality physique and stay injury-free for life.

Landmine T Bar Row

How To Do

  1. If you are using a classic bar, you will have to ensure that one of its ends is blocked by placing it in the corner of a wall. The ideal is to use a landmine machine or attachment. 
  2. Load the other end with the desired amount of weight. With the barbell loaded, stand over the bar with a wide stance.
  3. Get into a bent over position with your spine straight and chest up.
  4. Bend at the hips and keep your back arched throughout the movement.
  5. Lift the bar until the bar touches your chest, keeping the back straight.
  6. Now slowly lower the bar until it nearly touches the ground.
  7. Complete the desired number of repetitions.


  • You should pay attention to the position of your shoulder blades. Shoulders should be actively retracted and lowered during the eccentric phase to prevent too much forward movement.
  • Make sure your set-up is secure before each exercise, especially if you are using a corner wall set up.
  • To increase range of motion, use small discs, rather than Olympic discs with a large diameter.

9. Cable Deadlift

The cable deadlift exercise is the best variation of the classic barbell deadlift. This is one of the best cable exercises for the lower back (posterior chain).

The deadlift exercise can be performed using a barbell, a pair of dumbbells and a cable.

One of the biggest benefits of using cable for deadlifts is that it offers a smooth, controlled motion and gives your muscles almost uninterrupted time under tension, and massive pump — each of which can help optimize muscle growth.

Cable Deadlifts

How To Do

  1. Attach two pulleys at the lowest setting on a cable machine.
  2. Make sure the cable pulley attachments are located close to each other.
  3. Hold on to the cable with each hand, you’ll lower your butt to the ground.
  4. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible. Contract your back and hamstrings.
  5. Raise the cable using your hamstrings and glutes.
  6. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight, and head looking up.
  7. Raise it to the point where your body is erect.
  8. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine.
  9. Then, lower the cable slowly at a steady, slow pace by bending at the hips and then at the knees.


  • Do not go through half of the exercise, complete the lift.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep motion-controlled.

10. Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Rows are an excellent cable exercise to build middle back muscles, and this works on the lower back as well.

It focuses primarily on the muscles in your back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. It also engages your biceps and forearms as secondary muscles.

This back exercise is done on a cable rowing machine with separate handles and grip position change, the muscle worked involvement.

Seated Cable Rows

How To Do

  1. Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the footrests.
  2. Grab the V-bar or wide grip handle and sit back with your arms fully extended.
  3. Keep your spine neutral and engage your core.
  4. Pull the cable towards your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Hold for a second, then slowly release the cable back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Make sure your elbows are close to your body in order to maximize back muscle engagement.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid knee and lower back pressure.
  • Remember, a rounded back is a wrong back. Keep it straight at all times.
  • Keep your upper back stationary, don’t move your upper back, back and forth.

Lower Back Machine Workout Plan

Here are some examples of workout routines for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels.

1. Beginner Level

Standing Back Extension310-12
Good Morning212-15
Lat Pulldown212-15

2. Intermediate Level

Reverse Hyperextension38-10
Seated Cable Row310
Smith Good Morning310-12
Back Extension212-15

3. Advanced Level

Glute Ham Raise46-8
T-Bar Row46-8
Smith Deadlift33-5
Reverse Hyperextension215

Benefits of Using Machines for Lower Back Exercises

When it comes to building strength and improving the health of your lower back, gym machines offer a host of advantages. Here are some of the key benefits of using machines for lower back exercises:

Benefits of Using Machines for Lower Back Exercises

1. Better Muscle Isolation

Machines are designed to isolate specific muscle groups, offering targeted engagement. They help to isolate the lower back muscles, which can make it easier to target them and get a good workout.

2. Safety and Injury Prevention

One of the biggest benefits of using machines is that they reduce the risk of getting hurt. Many machines have adjustable seats, pads, and weight stacks to ensure that you can customize the fit for your body.

3. Beginner Friendly

If you’re new to exercise or strength training, machines offer a simpler and more straightforward way to start. They are typically easier to use than free weights.

4. Rehabilitative Advantages

For those recovering from injury or surgery, machines can offer a safer and more controlled environment for gentle strengthening exercises. The guided motion and ability to adjust resistance can help you gradually regain strength in your lower back without putting undue stress on it.

5. Time-Efficient

Machines allow for quicker transitions between exercises, especially in circuit training scenarios. You can easily move from one machine to another, optimizing your workout time and making your training session more efficient.

Anatomy Of Lower Back Muscles

The lower back is more than just a single muscle; it’s a complex system of interconnected muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Two of the most prominent muscle groups in the lower back that are worth highlighting are the Erector Spinae and the Quadratus Lumborum.

This complex network of muscles that work together to support the spine, bend and twist the torso, and move the legs.

1. Erector Spinae

The Erector Spinae is not one single muscle, but a group of muscles and tendons running more or less parallel to the spine. These muscles extend from the lower back to the upper neck.

It is divided into three parts: the spinalis, iliocostalis, and longissimus. The erector spinae muscles help to extend the spine and to keep it upright.

The erector spinae are often the muscles that come to mind when we think of “back strength,” and they play a vital role in actions like lifting, pulling, and even simple tasks like standing up straight.

Muscles Of Erector Spinae
Muscles Of Erector Spinae

2. Quadratus Lumborum

The Quadratus Lumborum is a deep muscle that originates in the hip and attaches to the lower ribs and the lumbar spine.

This muscle is crucial for spinal stabilization and is heavily engaged in activities that require side-bending or hip hiking. It’s a muscle that’s often overlooked, but is vitally important for maintaining a healthy lower back and core.

Quadratus Lumborum

3. Multifidus

This muscle is located deep in the lower back and it runs along each side of the spine. It helps to stabilize the spine and to prevent it from moving too much.

multifidus Muscles
multifidus Muscles

4. Latissimus Dorsi

This muscle is located in the upper back and it extends down to the lower back. It helps to extend the spine and to pull the arms down towards the body.

Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Anatomy

These are just some of the many muscles that make up the lower back.


Lower back machine exercises are a great way to strengthen the lower back muscles. They are safe, effective, and versatile. Many lower back machine exercises are available, so you can find one that fits your needs and goals.

Exercises like back extensions, reverse hyperextensions, and seated back extensions are great for directly working the spinal erectors. Mix in glute ham raises to strengthen the posterior chain eccentrically. Good mornings on the Smith machine will strengthen your hamstrings and glutes through an extended range of motion.

Use these lower back machine exercises to build a stronger, more resilient posterior chain.


  1. James Rainville, Carol Hartigan, Eugenio Martinez, Janet Limke, Cristin Jouve, Mark Finno: Exercise as a treatment for chronic low back pain. PMID: 14749199 DOI: 10.1016/s1529-9430(03)00174-8
  2. Rahman Shiri, David Coggon: Exercise for the Prevention of Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled TrialsAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Issue 5, May 2018, Pages 1093–1101
  3. Suh, Jee Hyun MD; Kim, Hayoung BS; Jung, Gwang Pyo MD; Ko, Jin Young MD; Ryu, Ju Seok MD, PhD: The effect of lumbar stabilization and walking exercises on chronic low back pain: June 2019 – Volume 98 – Issue 26 – p e16173 doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000016173
  4. Hartigan C. Exercise-based therapy for low back pain. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 19, 2023.

Leave a Comment