The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is a deep lower back muscle that is crucial for spinal strength and stability. If you want a strong and sturdy low back, Quadratus Lumborum exercises are not to be ignored. Follow along for our top 3 Quadratus Lumborum exercises for building serious strength and endurance in the QL muscle.
Quadratus Lumborum Exercise Shortcut - Back Of Steel (Sponsor)
Dealing with debilitating back pain can be miserable. Pain every time you stand up or bend down to pick something up - that is no way to live. Fortunately, now you can plug in the most effective exercises to build your lower back out of pain with Back Of Steel. The 3 Quadratus Lumborum exercises below, however, may get you most of the way there.
Back Of Steel builds potent strength and endurance in the specific areas of the body that help prevent lower back pain. Back Of Steel reveals the unique principles I learned after overcoming a 4-year stint with lower back pain. Most notably: how to train the lower back for resilience and durability, to build your muscles to work for you instead of bringing you pain.
Exercising The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle:
The Quadratus Lumborum muscle is crucial for high-impact movements and spinal stability. Here are a few key functions of the QL muscle:
- Supporting the lower back, keeping the spine sturdy in alignment
- Holding you upright, especially while carrying objects
- Keeping the spine neutral/safe while playing back-demanding sports
Quadratus Lumborum exercises are key for building strength, stability, and confidence in the lower back. If you want your lower back to hold up no matter what you throw at it - make sure to include QL exercises in your routine (and for Quadratus Lumborum pain relief check out QL Claw). A strong Quadratus Lumborum is an essential component of a well-rounded, strong, and functional low back and core.
Quadratus Lumborum Exercise 1 - Side Plank
The basic. No equipment needed, just you and the floor.
To perform the side plank, elevate the torso and legs off of the ground as shown in the image below. Keep the body tight and straight with a neutral spine throughout the duration of your sets. The side plank is a great movement for building abdominal strength in addition to being a great Quadratus Lumborum exercise.
Goal: perform two minutes of total work in the side plank position on each side. This can be 6 sets of 20 seconds, 4 sets of 30 seconds, or 2 sets of 1:00. The goal is to build not only strength but also endurance in the Quadratus Lumborum muscle. A strong Quadratus Lumborum is great, but a QL that can withstand fatigue and stay strong longer is more valuable (think about having a resilient lower back in the 4th quarter of a sport, not just the 1st!).
Side Plank Variations:
- Support the upper body with the elbow instead of the hand
- Place the top foot on the ground in front of the bottom foot
Quadratus Lumborum Exercise 2 - Suitcase Carry
The moderate. Grab one weight a walk around.
To perform the suitcase carry (also known as one-arm farmer's carry), pick up a heavy weight with one arm and walk around. Make sure to hold strong, straight posture and to keep the core tight. If you can't hold your spine steady with a strong and correct posture, lower the weight and build up.
Goal: Perform 3 sets of 1:00 walks (each side) with a heavy weight that you can comfortably carry. This should be around 20-40% of your body weight (for reference, in the picture I weigh 180lbs and use 60-70lbs after years of doing this). Like with the side plank, the goal here is not only to build strength but also endurance. This Quadratus Lumborum exercise will push the QL muscle to provide next-level lower back protection.
- Use a dumbbell, kettlebell, or a 35/45 lb plate with handles
- Walk or stand in place
Quadratus Lumborum Exercise 3 - Overhead Paloff Press
The advanced. Resistance band or cable attachment required.
To perform the overhead Paloff Press, secure a resistance band to a fixed object. The band should be around shoulder height while kneeling (the band anchor is too low in the picture), but higher or lower will have the same effect. Next, grab the band and step out from the fixture so that there is significant tension. Kneel high on the ground and face 90 degrees away from the band fixture. Press the band overhead, pausing at the top. You should feel a deep effort from the side of the body.
Goal: Perform 3 sets of 10-20 reps, with a pause at the top of each rep. Try to keep the spine as tight and stable as possible - the lower back should not move, but work hard to oppose movement. This will likely be a new sensation if you have not done this Quadratus Lumborum exercise before. Start light and build up using levels of resistance that you can safely control.
- Use a cable or a resistance band
- Kneel or stand
Check out how to do these 3 Quadratus Lumborum exercises in the videos below!
Beyond Quadratus Lumborum Exercises:
QL strengthening exercises are only one portion (although a critical portion) of a complete, well-built lower back. For a comprehensive, value-packed lower back strengthening program, check out Back Of Steel. Back Of Steel is our 3-day-per-week supplemental program designed to build serious strength and endurance in the areas that need it. In it, you will find principles on training with the lower back in mind, a bank of exercise movements, exclusive video access, and the actual program.
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.
 Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.