Before I dive in...I want to put forth a disclaimer. There truly are no “best” exercises. Whether that be to deal with an injury/ongoing pain, train for athletic performance, or you’re looking to beef up your biceps.
At the end of the day, WHAT you do will only take you so far, it’s far more important HOW you do it.
There certainly are more intelligent exercises that when programmed thoughtfully are more likely to elicit the response you are looking for. On the flip side of that there are certainly exercises that no matter how they’re done probably have no place being performed by 99% of the population.
But, more often than not, the exercises themselves are nothing revolutionary, but it hinges mainly on the ability to focus and execute with intention.
As for the lower back, we can take the deadlift as an example (let’s disregard that there are more appropriate variations than others).
If done correctly, the deadlift can be one of the best, more therapeutic and corrective exercises out there. If done poorly, you were better off sitting at home watching Squid Game (hope that’s still relevant by the time this posts).
Now with all of that said, here are the ABSOLUTE BEST exercises to bulletproof your lower back.
SINGLE LEG PLANK
Planks in all their wonderful variations are fantastic for teaching an individual how to create and maintain rigidity in their midsection. This should have carryover to maintaining that level of rigidity in compound lifts such as the squat and deadlift.
Single leg planks capitalize on co-contraction; as one hip is in flexion, the other is in extension, and the two have almost a synergistic effect causing the opposite muscle to fire.
3 SETS ~ 20 SECONDS/SIDE
SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Knowing how to effectively perform a hip hinge is the base of good human movement. If you can perform a bodyweight version on one leg, then there is a ton of core/hip stability at play, not to mention excellent foot & ankle mechanics.
3 SETS ~ 6/SIDE
BENCH BIRD DOG DB ROW
Yes the lats and mid back are firing to perform the row, but that’s not all! The obliques should be firing like crazy as you are constantly resisting external rotation of your hips. Don’t let your pelvis tilt and back arch as you are constantly thinking about pulling your ribs down towards your hips.
3 SETS ~ 8/SIDE
Of course these 3 exercises won’t guarantee anything, but it’s safe to say you’ll be in a pretty good place if you can perform these with near perfect execution. You will still want to incorporate heavy deadlifts, and Romanian deadlifts but these three are more corrective in nature and are a little more “low risk”.