The 8 Best Erector Spinae Dumbbell Exercises

Training the erector spinae is an important part of any fitness routine. Often times we do not think about specifically working this muscle group and instead progress the posterior chain using the hinge movement pattern. All the movements outlines below are hinge movements that will allow you to train your erector spinae using dumbbells.

4 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
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In This Resource
  • Anatomy of The Erector Spinae
  • The Importance of The Erector Spinae for Deadlifting
  • Benefits of Training the Erector Spinae
  • Posture
  • Injury Mitigation
  • Sports and Weight Room Performance
  • The Relationship Between Back Pain and Weak Erector Spinae
  • References

Anatomy of The Erector Spinae

This group of muscles runs along the length of the vertebral column and helps maintain an upright posture, as well as facilitate movements of the spine. The erector spinae group consists of three columns of muscles:

  • Iliocostalis: This is the most lateral (outer) column of the erector spinae. It has three parts: iliocostalis lumborum, iliocostalis thoracis, and iliocostalis cervicis. These muscles are responsible for extending and laterally flexing the spine.
  • Longissimus: The longissimus is the intermediate column of the erector spinae. It includes longissimus thoracis, longissimus cervicis, and longissimus capitis. The longissimus muscles primarily help with spine extension and lateral flexion.
  • Spinalis: The spinalis is the most medial (inner) column of the erector spinae. It consists of spinalis thoracis, spinalis cervicis, and spinalis capitis. These muscles assist in extending and stabilizing the spine.
  • These muscles work together to provide support to the spine and play a crucial role in maintaining posture, as well as in movements such as bending backward and rotating the spine.

    The Importance of The Erector Spinae for Deadlifting

    The importance of the erector spinae to deadlifting and all hinging movements cannot be overestimated. This includes all hinging variations with dumbbells as well. If you happen to have an imbalance where you have strong upper back and hamstrings that can lift a lot of load, whilst still having a weak lower back (erector spinae), this can put the lower back at a much higher risk as it will be exposed to loads that it may not be able to deal with. You will want to put specific work in reinforcing your erector spinae to avoid this being a problem when lifting heavy loads.

    Benefits of Training the Erector Spinae


    The erector spinae are one of the key muscle groups that allow us to keep good posture throughout our day. If you have very weak erector spinae you may find it much harder to maintain good posture. Performing these dumbbell exercises on a regular basis will help you improve your posture over time.

    Injury Mitigation

    The lower back is very susceptible to injuries both in sports and in the weight room (especially when powerlifting or weightlifting). Making sure you have a rock solid lower back can help mitigate potential injuries you might sustain while lifting weights or on the field.

    Sports and Weight Room Performance

    Not only will having strong erector spinae help you mitigate injury in the weight room and while playing sports, it will also help you improve your performance. As it plays a crucial role in bending backwards and rotating the spine, these movements can be essential in sports like American football, rugby and judo when in contact with an opponent. Also think about how important having a strong lower back will be when getting out of the bottom of a heavy back squat, there is no doubt that this physical characteristic will help in the gym for all sorts of movement patterns.

    The Relationship Between Back Pain and Weak Erector Spinae

    Lower back pain is an extremely common issue in our society. Having a strong erector spinae and core musculature has been shown to prevent lower back. This means that if you are able to strengthen your erector spinae overtime you will be able to potentially prevent lower back pain in the future. If you searched for this article because of lower back pain, refer to our extensive article on exercises for lower back pain .


  • Searle A, Spink M, Ho A, Chuter V. Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clin Rehabil. 2015 Dec;29(12):1155-67. doi: 10.1177/0269215515570379. Epub 2015 Feb 13. PMID: 25681408.
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    This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

    Sean Klein


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