Posts Tagged ‘Mobility’

At some point in time you’re going to experience back pain. It’s quite common, and at times can be tricky to work around because it’s so complex. For reference, I’ve injured my lower back twice and it’s no joke. Quite discouraging actually. And unfortunately, I had to take a few steps back on my training. So, I can relate if you’ve had back problems.
In this post, I want to address some of the issues revolving around back pain and offer general guidelines that will ultimately get you feeling good and back in the iron game.
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What NOT To Do

1. Stretching Will Actually Do More Harm Than Good

 

Whenever people experience pain they have this¬†behavioral habit of¬†stretching the painful area. ¬†Let me tell you: the site of the pain, is almost never the source of the pain. Stretching is not inherently bad. You just have to be more selective of your approach when trying to ease the pain ‚ÄĒ and I’ve found that painful areas rarely like being stretched. It just causes more instability.

You might provide yourself with some pain relief, but the problem is that it’s only temporary. More often than not, the pain comes back worse than before.¬†Thus begins the vicious¬†cycle of repeating the process over and over again.¬†I understand the rationale behind it, but to give some context ‚ÄĒ¬†it’s the equivalent of repeatedly banging your head against the wall.

To drive the point home, the last thing you should be doing is stretching your lower back. You’re actually doing more harm than good.

2. Do Not Stop Training

 

While continuing to train at a high-intensity is unwarranted, pressing the pause button and remaining sedentary is not exactly the best route either. Even worse if all you do sit all day long.

Suffice it to say, it’s still¬†possible to strength train. ¬†It all boils down on focusing what you can do and¬†listening to your body.¬†The key is doing the right workouts. Placing an emphasis on spine sparing exercises will pay dividends in your longevity. ¬†Have some common sense. If the movement hurts, then don’t do it.

You’re not doing yourself any favors by running 3-5 miles¬†on hard pavement, doing a set of box jumps, or attempting to set a PR in your squat.

What You Should Be Doing

1. Strengthen Core Stability

 

If your lower back keeps acting up, it’s most likely a lack of stability rather than mobility. As such, strengthening your core is priority numero uno¬†when it comes to keeping your lower back healthy. The inability to properly brace or stiffen your spine results in your passive restraints taking up most of the stress.

2. Single-leg Training and Glute Work

 

As I mentioned earlier, placing an emphasis on spine sparing exercises is of primary importance. Prioritizing single-leg training and glute work have tremendous value, specifically for folks suffering from acute or chronic back pain. Performing any single-leg work (Assisted 1-leg RDL, Bulgarian Split Squats, Lunges, Step-ups) reduces the shear and compressive forces on the spine that you would otherwise experience in traditional bilateral lower body movements.

Yes. The hip thrust¬†mimics an “inappropriate” motion, but make no mistake¬†‚ÄĒ if you want to transform your backside and keep your lower back healthy, these are¬†money.

3. Make Simple Modifications

 

Once your symptoms have begun to wind down and you start to feel good,¬†it’s easy to dive back into your normal training regimen with gusto.

Not so fast.

Tinkering with different variations or altering your set up with an exercise can make a world of difference.  For instance, setting up for a conventional deadlift might not bode well for the vast majority. But with a trap bar, kettlebell, or a landmine, you can shift your weight more posteriorly further reducing the likelihood of aggravating your lower back. Similarly, lying flat on your back for a bench press can be a hassle. Opting for an incline press is more user-friendly because it eliminates the need to excessively arch through the lower back. Remember, keeping your spine neutral under load is the way to go. Compromising that can potentiate another injury causing your lower back to flip you the finger.

I’m happy to announce that I’m taking clients for my online fitness coaching. If you want to get stronger, build lean muscle, and decrease body fat, learn more about my coaching here. 

Let's Get It Started

Now that the calendar has switched over another year, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more people in the gym.¬† By no means is this an attempt to downplay their attempt to get in shape. Far from it. In this post, I want to share some tidbits I’ve learned this past year. Here they are:

1. It doesn’t matter what training protocol you do. You can’t out-train a destructive lifestyle.

 

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Perhaps the biggest perk of regularly working out is that you can afford to have higher allotment of indulgence. Meaning, you get to drink and eat more. To that end, it’s amazing how naive we are to think that progress is made in the gym.¬† Regardless of the training method, all you’re doing is breaking your body down.¬† What you do outside is going to dictate your results. If you live for the weekends, you’re not going to get anything in return.¬† Yes¬†‚ÄĒ there are people who can get away with eating crap, and getting minimal rest. But there is a tipping point.

Good intentions and justifying yourself on social media doesn’t mean much. Consider the different elements in your lifestyle that are a hindrance. Work to gradually change them and in turn, you’ll maximize results in the gym.

2. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean productivity.

 

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When I first started out as a trainer in a commercial gym, I did everything and anything to fill up my time slots. Early in the morning, sure thing. ¬†Late afternoon, you got it. However, the more I advanced and grew, I realized that I had to be more efficient with my time ‚ÄĒ especially now that I’m a business owner. Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism,¬†refers to this as discerning the vital few from the trivial many. To give context, you have to¬†recognize what’s important¬†‚ÄĒ and from there, you prioritize.

3. Prioritize single-leg work. You’re welcome.

 

Just to be clear, I’m not¬†against lower body bilateral training. ¬†In fact, I love the squat and deadlift. I’ve achieved a 315lb Front Squat, and a 405 Deadlift. Your body, however, takes a beating. There’s only so much load that it can tolerate before it starts to breakdown. So, why not split that load in half and do it one leg at a time. You still get a comparable training effect without imposing a ton of sheer force on the spine. You’d be surprised at just how much value focusing on single-leg work can bring.

4. All the training won’t matter if your diet royally sucks. (Get this through your head)

 

This ties in with the first point above. It’s a clear observation that completely disregarding the importance of proper nutrition is foolish, to say the least.¬† Look, I get it ‚ÄĒ it’s incredibly hard. But consider how many benefits have the potential to dramatically improve your physique and performance if your diet was on point. ¬†Understand that there is a trade-off and you have to exercise serious discipline (not restriction).

5. Being strong doesn’t mean jack sh**¬†if you move like a tin-can.

 

If you’re as strong as an ox, good on ya’. But if you can’t move well, you’re not going to be able to perform at a high level. Don’t be like the traitor from 300.¬† Maintain quality of movement by devoting at least 5-10 minutes on the foam roller in conjunction with your dynamic warm-up.

Trust me.

It’s much easier to maintain, than it is to regain it back.

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6. If you don’t like the way you look, do something about it.

 

We can’t all look like a bikini competitor, model, or physique athlete. But that shouldn’t stop you from training to improve your appearance. How you look is a testament to your health and vitality¬†‚ÄĒ take pride in it.

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