Many bodybuilders during their workouts feel the pain in their lower back. Some feel that pain just as a result of a poor choice of exercises, while others simply get it for one reason or the other.

The question is should you be working out with back pain? There is a way. All you have to do is change the way you do some exercises or simply replace them with other exercises that will work the same muscle group without hurting your lower back.

Professional athletes that have ten or more years of experience at some point come to the conclusion that there are some exercises they will have to give up on due to the pain in certain joints and body parts.

You can often hear them saying how that have to give up on rowing exercises in bent position due to the pain in lower back or bench press due to the pain in the shoulders.

There are some changes that you can implement in your workout to avoid the pain during certain exercises. We will tell you about a few tricks that might help you to continue doing your favourite exercises without the pain.

bodybuilder holding his hand on lower back that is in pain

Tips To Help You Avoid The Pain

What you should do to minimize or completely avoid the pain in your exercises is to implement small changes that might seem insignificant to you at first, but you will realize how helpful they really are once you try them.

When you are doing squats, for example, all you need to do is stop looking up in order for the pain to go away.

 If you are looking up then you are increasing the arch that the lower part of your back is making while all the weights transfers to the part of the ribs that are not supposed to be exposed to that kind of weight.

It is much better that you are looking down this can help you transfer the weight in more adequate part of the spine. Also, do not do the exercise called twist (twisting the upper body to the side) nor use the machines for torso because that will expose the discs between ribs to too big of a pressure and that will weaken the outer wall of the disc and doing so it will cause pain.

If you are still feeling the pain even after trying this, try with frontal squats. If not even this helps try the machine for back squat.

Does this elimination process sound familiar to you? If all of these options are out of the question and not helpful at all, it is time that you rest from squats between four and six weeks and then try again, but this time with lower weights.

Maybe all you need to do is to let the inflammation heal. If you already have back problems, maybe you should swap the squats for leg press at the angle of 45 degrees. 

Make sure you do not raise the knees to close to your body. You do not want the pelvis to lift from the seat since that can expose your lower back to additional pressure.

Don’t do vertical leg press if you are experiencing lower back pain since that can induce or make worse lower back pain.

If you like rowing with bent back, try doing in so you pull the bar towards the lower belly instead of towards the chest since that will help you minimize the pain you are feeling in the lower back.

However, while rowing with the bar it is much harder controlling its position, so this exercises is very often completely eliminated from the workout program. 

Many people much better control rowing with the rope, though if you want to do this you need to lower the weight so you don’t repeatedly put pressure to your back with too heavy weights.

If none of these machines work for you and you still keep experiencing pain, try rowing with dumbbells. We would always recommend the dumbbells rather than machines, but this is one of the situations where machines might actually be better for you.

If you keep changing the width of the grip while doing pull downs, your workouts will be much more diverse if you also use dumbbells and rowing machines. 

In case you can no longer do squats, rowing or deadlift, maybe you can still do lateral extension. The machine for lateral extension is usually at the angle of 45 degrees. 

Lift the upper body all the way until your spine is straightened but do not bend. If you can do this exercise without experiencing any pain, then you can still train your back muscles and gluteus quite well.

However, if this exercises is making you feel uncomfortable, you need to try using some other machine. Most of the gyms have several different machines for your lower back workout.

What you need to remember is that you need to have strong back muscles and strong abdominal muscles in order to protect your spine.


These are just a few tips that can help you avoid back pain while doing your workouts. In case you try all the tips we gave you and the pain is still there, you should consider completely excluding those exercises from your workout program or simply taking a short break from them until the inflammation calms down.

If the pain persists, then the problem is much bigger than a bad position during the exercises and you should go and see the specialist.