11 Simple Back Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Discover 11 simple back strengthening exercises for seniors that can help strengthen your back, relieve pain, and embrace a more mobile, active lifestyle.

Is there anything more frustrating than chronic back pain? If you’re someone who struggles with back pain you’ve probably tried just about everything to make it go away. The quick fixes are tempting, and they can help short term. However, simple exercises performed consistently are actually one of the best ways to ease pain, improve poor posture, and prevent future injuries.

The best back strengthening exercises can help maintain spinal health while reducing symptoms of low back pain, bad posture, muscle strains, or tight backs. Not to mention they promote a larger range of motion, core strength, and a better quality of life. If you’ve been suffering from back pain for a long time, it’s time to get proactive about back-strengthening exercises.

My Experience With Back Pain

I’ve selected the absolute best exercises for strengthening you back, keeping older people in mind. The good news is, these exercises are simple to follow and easy to add to your daily routine. Physical therapy will help but most people can’t afford to keep attending PT sessions forever. Therefore, learning and doing each of these exercises is a great way to strengthen weak back muscles in an effective way at home. Every exercise has modifications and tips for making them more comfortable. The important thing is to decide what works best for you depending on your body and capabilities.

I suffered from low back pain 10 years ago. As a certified personal trainer who moves my body for a living, I needed to deal with it and I wanted to fix my issue long term. I started a daily routine where I take 10 minutes to preform a handful of these exercises daily and it changed my life.  Over the course of several months my back pain subsided. I no longer have back pain but still do my quick strengthening routine of core exercises and back exercises daily to prevent it from reoccurring.  

There has never been a better time than now to switch up your exercise routine and improve your back strength!

Common Causes of Back Pain

There are many common causes of back pain. The pain can also become acute, or chronic. Acute pain is short-term (lasting six months or less), while chronic pain lasts longer than six months. Some of the most common causes of back pain include:


Disc Problems

Lifestyle Triggers


Muscle Sprains, Strains, Spasms

Benefits of Back Strengthening Exercises

Adding science-backed stretches to your weekly routine can help ease existing pain, and prevent future pain. The right exercises help strengthen the back and surrounding muscles that help support it.

For example, did you know that strong abdominal and hip flexor muscles help with good posture? Or that our leg muscles support our backs while we move? Stronger gluteal muscles help us with walking, standing, and even sitting. Similarly, a strong back can help with daily activities. 

Adding simple back strengthening exercises to your workout schedule can help by:

Promoting Disc Health

Decreasing Stiffness

Strengthening Muscles

What To Do About Existing Back Pain

Should you still do back strengthening exercises if you have back pain? We always recommend checking with a physician or physical therapist before undertaking any new exercise program. This is especially true if you have existing back pain. 

These exercises were chosen specifically to help strengthen back muscles and reduce the potential for injuries or pain. Try these exercises if they feel ok for your body and know they have been helpful for my 58  year old body. 

You can also explore our other recommendations for treating back pain.  

11 Back Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

These gentle and effective exercises will help strengthen lower back muscles and upper back muscles while helping to ease existing pain, and prevent future injury. Several of these exercises will work your back muscles, ab muscles and hip muscles, all of which will work together to alleviate back pain, 

You can start by trying just a few, and build to adding more as you get more comfortable. Add them to your weekly routine, and use the modifications when you need them!

All of these exercises can be done without any weights or other equipment. You’ll just need a yoga mat! If you’d like to add an extra challenge to your exercise routine, check out my top picks for the best home gym equipment for seniors.

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a great move to incorporate at the beginning and end of your routine. It targets your low back, pelvic region and spinal extensors, and helps you avoid stiffness. It’s a great exercise to use to counterbalance the extension in the prone exercises. After you perform extension, it is nice to follow with flexion and child’s pose is my pick to do just that. Feel free to also do this exercise several times between the exercises lying face down. It will stretch your back and promote relaxation.

How To Do Child’s Pose

Start in kneeling position and sit back your glutes onto your heels or as close as you can get to that. 

Splay your knees a little wider and drop your belly down between your knees, reaching your hands all the way out in front of you. 

Gently place your forehead on the floor and breath. 

Hold for 30 seconds. 

Pelvic Tilts

This exercise targets all of your abdominal muscles and is a great beginner exercise to learn how to engage the transverse abdominus.  Do this one before trying the hip rolls and the glute bridges.  

How To Do A Pelvic Tilt

Inhale to prepare.

Exhale as you draw your rib cage closer to your hips bones, slightly pressing your low back into the ground. Draw your belly button towards your back. 

Release and repeat 5-10 times.

Hip Rolls

Hip rolls target your whole spine and your transverse abdominus muscle. They are great for learning to move your whole back and create space between the vertebrae for each watery disc. This back strengthening exercise is helpful for improving mobility. 

How To Do Hip Rolls

Start on your back, knees bent, heels lined up with your glutes.  

Starting at your low back, articulate through each vertebra to roll up off the mat into to a bridge. 

Roll back down staring at the nape of the neck and articulate through each vertebra. 

Repeat 5-10 times.

Glute Bridges

The glute bridge is a seemingly simple exercise and is a powerhouse move that can help you build strength, improve posture, and sculpt a toned, firm posterior. But, it’s not just about lifting your hips –it’s about using your entire core. This exercise targets your whole spine and your transverse abdominus muscle. 

How To Do Glute Bridges

Start on your back, knees bent, heels lined up with your glutes.  

Lift your entire torso in one solid line up off the mat into to a bridge. 

Lower back down maintaining that alignment. 

Repeat 5-10 times. 

Spinal Rotation

The spinal rotation exercise helps to work on rotation. It engages your transverse abdominus muscle, and calls upon your obliques. Obliques are also known as your twisting muscles. You’ll also experience rotation through your spinal extensors at the same time.

How To Do Spinal Rotations

Start on your back with your knees up in tabletop,  your arms out to the sides and your abdominal muscles engaged. 

Slowly lower your legs with your knees together to one side twisting through your torso. 

Engage your abs to bring your knees back to center and slowly lower to the other side. 

Repeat on each side 5-10 times. 

Forearm Plank

Forearm planks are a great exercise to engage through the entire back and your abs. Even though it’s an isometric hold, remember to continue to breathe. 

How To Do A Forearm Plank

Start balancing on your forearms and the balls of your feet. 

Keep your abdominals tight to avoid letting your back arch. 

Keep your butt down and hold for 15-30 seconds. 

If a modification is needed, you can drop to your knees or use a wall. 

Bird Dog

The bird dog exercise teaches the body to use the core for stability, strengthens abs and low back, and lengthens your spinal column and posture.

How To Do A Bird Dog

Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.

Repeat on the other side.

Perform 8-10 per side. Move slow and steady, holding arm and leg out momentarily before switching.

Cat-Cow Stretch

Cat pose is  all about rounding up through your back to create as much flexion in your spine as possible.  Cow pose is about creating extension through your spine.  They are generally used together and might be the best exercise you should do every day of the year! 

How To Do Cat Pose

Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.

Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then slowly tuck your tailbone and lower the crown of your head so your back gently rounds.

Draw your naval up to your spine and breathe gently as you hold the stretch.

How To Do Cow Pose

Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.

Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then gently lift your heart and tailbone so your back gently curves downward. Be sure to focus on the lifting – do not press your back downward. Let the curve happen naturally.

Look slightly upward with a relaxed neck and breathe gently.

Mid-Back Extension

This is a starter exercise to the superman listed below.  Mid-back extensions teach you to relax your low back and isolate the mid-back muscles to do the work on their own. Too often, our low back kicks in where it’s not needed. This exercise targets your upper back erector spinae and your transverse abdominus muscle. 

How To Do Mid-Back Extensions

Start lying face down on the mat. Lift abs away from the mat to engage them and slide the shoulders down the back. The head is lifted in a low hover. Your body is one long line.

Using your back muscles and core, lift the chest away from the mat into extension as you exhale. Think of lengthening from the crown of the head.

Inhale and return back down to the mat, slowly getting longer through the spine as you return.

Repeat ten times.


This exercise targets the entire back and the transverse abdominus. It fires all the back extensors. 

How To Do A Superman

Lay in a prone position with hands extended overhead. 

Lift all four limbs off the ground at the same time engaging all back extensors. 

Hold for 2 seconds and release.

Repeat 5-10 times. 


This exercise targets the entire back and ab muscles. It strengthens back extensors, teaches core muscles to grip during movement, and engages your core. This is an advanced exercise to try after you master mid-back extensions and superman. 

How To Do Swimming 

Lay in a prone position with hands extended overhead. 

Lift all four limbs off the ground at the same time engaging all back extensors.

Begin to flutter your arms and legs moving from the shoulder and hip joints not the elbows and knees.  
Keep your abs tight and continue to breath. 

Perform for 15-30 seconds.

The goal is to keep the body stable as the limbs flutter quickly. Try for 30 seconds and work your way up to 60 seconds.

Adding these 11 back strengthening exercises for seniors to your routine will help ease existing back pain, and help prevent further episodes. The key will always be consistency.  It’s not what you do once, it’s what you do everyday that makes the long term difference. 

In addition to these exercises, I recommend strengthening and stretching all of our muscles,  If you have the capability, incorporate these strength training moves for women over 50, and these yoga poses to do every day into your life too!

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