Minimalist Workout Safe For Back Pain | Herniated Disc & Fusion Friendly Exercises

“Keep things simple stupid.” One of my favorite math teachers would always say this to the class using “KISS” as the memory trigger. 

I have tried to continue practicing it in my life, training, and now even more in my client’s strategy to regain the life pain has stolen from them. 

The majority of the rehab space can make the path out of back pain confusing and almost fearful since most of this information tends to contradict each other. 

Heck, what I teach contradicts what your doctor has probably told you. 

Like how stretching is terrible for back pain. 

Aside from that, I think building strength should also be kept simple. So why not find the best way to both build muscle and not spend hours in the gym doing so? 

It’s easy to get lost in a big gym, spending hours going from machine to machine simply because it’s fun, but when it comes to pain and strength. 

All that matters is results. 

Today I want to share a step-by-step breakdown of a recent minimalist strength routine safe for back pain. 

I’ll break down the exercise choice, what my warm-up looked like, and some personal secrets to maximize each rep and set so you can spend less time in the gym and more time doing the things you love.

As you check out today’s workout, don’t forget this free 7-day sample of what a back-friendly workout should look like. 

If you are in pain and need some place to start, check it out!

Can You Do Strength Training With Lower Back Pain?

The answer is yes but the application of that yes is different for each person. 

Often times when our backs are in pain, feeling tight and week we are told to “exercise more”. 

So we go into the gym thinking our low backs or core are just weak and strengthening them directly is the ticket on the fast track to a pain-free life. 

It’s actually not. 

It’s very rare that I start working with someone and have them do any direct lower back strength work. 

This is because most of us have a strong enough back already. When we need is a smarter approach to strength training and a better understanding of pain. 

So yes, get that gym membership but don’t go in doing whatever you want. 

If you want a safe place to start building strength at home or in the gym without making your back pain worse check out the Smart Strength Membership.

What Exercises Should I Avoid WIth Lower Back Pain?

For starters, there is no good or bad exercise for lower back pain. 

So get that out of your head. 

It would be best to focus more on how your back pain responds to said exercise. 

I write back-friendly strength programs all the time, and I’m not using special exercises. However, I know the typical pain provokers you find in most back situations, so I build programs around these common themes. 

Now your symptoms after a static dumbbell lunge may be very different from the next person’s, so I will show you how to modify your strength workout to make it even safer for you. 

Context is essential when building minimalist strength workouts safe for back pain, so listen to your body and adapt when necessary. 

What Exercises Make Up A Great Minimalist Strength Workout For Back Pain Suffers

Every back pain friendly workout starts with a good warm-up: 

Back Friendly Workout Warm-Up: 

  • 8-10 minute fast paces walk
  • One core/hip dominant exercise
  • a second core exercise

My two core exercises are below.

The Side plank leg raise and a dead bug variation.

Side Plank Leg Raise:

Dead Bug Variation:

Minimalist Strength Workout Exercise: GOblet Squat

Use a heavy enough weight to challenge the lower body. Use some sort of flat elevation to bring the heels up to help get the lower back into a better position during the exercise. 

Minimalist Strength Workout Exercise: Hamstring Curl

Start with a band around your ankle and in the glute thrust position. 

Slowly drag your heels towards your butt. 

Take your time with each rep, and make sure the hamstrings are the main priority with each rep.

Minimalist Strength Workout Exercise: Dumbbell Chest Press

For the first set, I chose an incline dumbell press focusing on contracting the chest without pushing too hard from the lower back. 

I chose a flat bench variation for the second set with a resistance band around my back. Again, not a huge difference but the added angle and band make it entertaining and effective.

Strength Workout Exercise: Bench-Supported Rows

The first variation was a palm-facing-up grip or a “low pull” style row. 

Focus on slow transitions and relaxing the lower back. 

The second variation of this exercise was the high pull. 

I am doing the same movements, except for this time, I have my palms facing down, and my elbows are tracked back high instead of low. 

Free 7-Dat Band & Body Weight Training Program

back pain friendly workout