The 15 Best Erector Spinae Muscles Exercises


Heads up, folks. This article is going to be all about strengthening your erector spinae muscles, also known as your back strap muscles. If you’re here looking for help on how to strengthen muscles for erecting other certain areas (wink wink) of your body, we’re going to point you to our men’s pelvic floor blog.

What Do the Erector Spinae Muscles Do?

Man's Erector Spinae Muscles

Your erector spinae muscles are located on each side of your vertebral column and run the entire length of your spine. These muscles extend, laterally tilt, and twist your spine while keeping your spine erect or upright. If your erectors are weak, it can lead to poor posture and back and shoulder pain.

15 Exercises to Strengthen Your Erectors

We know you came for the exercises, so let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? These are listed randomly, not in order of greatest impact. You may be able to do all of these or only some. Do what your current ability level allows and that you can do with good form.

Many people ask us about ideal sets and reps. There’s no one right way to do these, but a general rule of thumb is 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Always remember to pair light weights with higher reps and heavier weights with fewer reps.

Wall Squat

Man performing wall facing squat

Adding a resistance band just above or below the knees will help remind you to drive your knees out, which is an important aspect of the squat.

    1. Set up with your feet hip width or wider with your toes about one hand width away from a wall. You may need more or less depending on your mobility. 
    2. Reach your arms overhead and place your hands flat on the wall.
    3. With your core gently braced, shift your hips back just slightly and squat down as you drag the palms of your hands down the wall. Avoid butt winking at the bottom.
    4. Remember to keep your toes and feet rooted to the floor. Drive up through your heels and midfoot.

You should feel a strong contraction all along the muscles of your spine.


    1. Lie face down on a mat and place your hands lightly behind your head. Make sure to keep your shoulders pressed down toward your back pockets.
    2. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis.
    3. Activate your core as you lift your upper body off the ground, keeping your head straight and gaze on the floor.
    4. Lower back to the floor slowly.


woman showing superman exercise

This is similar to the Back Extension exercise but includes the lower body as well.

    1. Lie face down on a mat and straighten your arms overhead. Make sure to keep your shoulders pressed down toward your back pockets.
    2. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis.
    3. Activate your core as you lift both your upper body and legs off the ground, keeping your head straight and gaze on the floor and toes pointed.
    4. Lower back to the floor slowly.


  1. Loop a resistance band around a post and grab it with an underhand grip (palms up). Your grip should be about shoulder width apart.
  2. Step back until your arms are fully extended and there is some tension in the band. Keep your spine straight and tall, head in a neutral position. Gently brace your core and keep your knees soft (not locked).
  3. Pull the band towards your hip bones. Don’t allow the shoulders to hunch up - keep them pressed down toward your back pockets.
  4. Slowly release and repeat.


Man showing Quadruped Row exercise

For this one, you're going to need a yoga block and a light dumbbell. Keep both shoulders down away from your ears.

  1. Get into the quadruped position with your left hand on a bench or yoga block and your right hand holding onto your dumbbell or kettlebell.
  2. Keep a neutral spine and stabilize your supporting shoulder by pressing it down toward your back pocket. The arm holding weight hangs straight down.
  3. Pull the weight back toward your hip. If you can’t do this without hunching the shoulders, reduce your weight.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Suspended Row

You’ll need TRX straps for this, which you can find in some gyms or purchase online.

  1. Anchor the TRX trainer to an overhead point. 
  2. Grasp the handles in each hand and step back with your feet hip width apart so that your arms are straight and your palms are facing each other. 
  3. Engage your core and lean back. You will look like you are in a plank position but suspended in the air facing up.
  4. Keeping that solid plank position, pull your lower rib cage towards the handles. Do not allow your shoulders to hunch up or round forward. If they do, reducing the angle of your body will make this easier.
  5. Hold for a 2-3 second count and then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.

Glute Bridge

Woman showing Glute Bridge Exercise

Done well, these work the core and entire posterior chain. Keep your knees hip width apart. You can use a small resistance band to add more tactile feedback and as a reminder to abduct your thighs. 

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tuck your pelvis and roll up one vertebra at a time until you're in a plank position from shoulders to knees. If you get to the top and find you’ve arched your low back at all, retuck the pelvis.
  3. Roll down one vertebrae at a time. The last thing to uncurl will be the pelvis. 

*To get more hamstring engagement, bring your toes and midfoot off the floor as shown in the picture above.


Keep your head aligned with your spine, gaze at the floor, and shoulders down away from your ears throughout this movement. 

Keep your head aligned with your spine, gaze at the floor, and shoulders down away from your ears throughout this movement. 

  1. Lie face down and place your palms on the ground directly underneath your shoulders. 
  2. Hug your elbows into the sides of your body and tuck your pelvis.
  3. Brace your core and exhale as you lift your upper body and hands off the floor. 
  4. Hold for a 2-3 second count before returning to the floor.

Bird Dog

The Bird Dog is a full body exercise. It requires a core brace, but is also using a lot of back, thigh, and arm extension. It also provides a nice challenge to your balance.

  1. Set up on your hands and knees with a flat back. Knees should be stacked directly under hips, wrists directly under shoulders. Keep reaching your head away from your body.
  2. Brace your core and raise the opposite leg and arm. Think of trying to reach the hand and heel away from each other to make as long and straight a line as possible.
  3. Lower both arm and leg back into tabletop position.

Coaching cues: Avoid arching your low back here. Make the glutes do the work of lifting the leg.  If you have difficulty getting the arm straight overhead, use whatever range you can. Rotating the palm inward will get you more external shoulder rotation, which will help counter the forward rounding of the shoulders.


This is a precursor to a pull up. Most people shrug their shoulders up and make the upper traps do all the work, but strengthening your lower lats, erector spinae, and serratus anterior muscles will improve your pull strength significantly. 

  1. Anchor a resistance band above your head. You can do these standing or kneeling.
  2. Grasp the band overhead with both hands about shoulder width apart. You want a good amount of tension here.
  3. Allow the band to pull your shoulders up for a moment and from there, pull your shoulders down toward your back pocket. 
  4. Repeat.


This is the Scap Pull Down with the addition of the arms. If you can’t yet do a full pull up, this is a good option for you once you have the Scap Pull Down mastered. You can also regress the pull up in other ways using resistance bands. 

  1. Anchor a resistance band above your head. You can do these standing or kneeling.
  2. Grasp the band overhead with both hands about shoulder width apart. 
  3. Allow the band to pull your shoulders up for a moment and from there, pull your shoulders down toward your back pocket. 
  4. Keeping the elbows on the same plane as your upper body and forearms vertical, draw the elbows down toward your hip bones.


You can do these with a kettle bell or weight plate held behind your upper back to increase the challenge.

  1. Set up standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart and hands resting lightly behind your head. Soften the knees.
  2. Gently brace your core and shift your hips back as your upper body hinges forward. Depending on your flexibility, your torso may actually become parallel to the ground. The idea here is to keep your spine straight - no rounding of the back - and feel a lengthening stretch in the hamstrings.
  3. Return to starting position by driving your hips forward toward the wall in front of you.


  1. Stand tall and bring your hands straight out to the side like you’re making a giant “T”.
  2. Focus on reaching your fingertips as far away from the center of your body as you can, like you’re trying to get as much wingspan as possible. Then externally rotate your hands until your pinkies are facing the sky and your thumbs close to pointing at the ground.
  3. Bend your elbows just a little bit. Without arching your back, push your elbows forward as you push your thumbs back at the same time. Focus on creating more spread between your two elbows as you do this. This is where the magic happens!


  1. Start lying face down with arms overhead.
  2. Lift your upper body off the floor as with the Back Extensions.
  3. Bend your elbows and bring them down toward your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your head in a neutral position.
  4. Return your arms back to the starting overhead position and repeat.


If you’re new to deadlifts, start with light weight and master your form first. Always start out with a neutral spine on deadlifts. Once you have full control in neutral, you can play with fancier things like Jefferson Curls and the like - but that’s a different blog.

  1. If using a barbell, set up with your midfoot directly under the bar and feet about hip-width apart. Keep your entire foot rooted to the floor throughout the entire movement.
  2. Grasp the barbell at about shoulder-width apart - just outside the shins. Use an overhand grip with the backs of your hands facing forward.
    Bend your knees slightly and engage your erector spinae muscles to flatten your spine.
  3. Inhale and brace your core as you shift your center of gravity back slightly to create tension on the bar.
  4. Initiate the lift by driving through your feet as if you’re trying to leg press the floor away from you. Think of thrusting the pelvis forward rather than pulling back on the bar. 
  5. With control, reverse the movement as you lower the bar back to its starting position. 

If you don’t have access to a barbell, you can use a kettlebell. Your set up position will be with the kettlebell between the front half of your feet and your grasp will obviously be narrower on the handle.




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