Training WITH A Back Injury (FULL ROUTINE INCLUDED!)

I am doing this video because it hits close to home, and it may help some of you right now or at some point in the future. Or maybe you know someone this video would benefit.

However, before I get started, do keep in mind that I am NOT a doctor.

Do NOT consider any of the advice in this video to be a replacement for proper medical diagnosis or treatment. And use my advice solely at your own risk.

This video provides you my story and what has worked for me. It is, at best, my educated anecdote.

First, a little back story.

As many of you know, I have put bodybuilding somewhat to the side in favor of heavier lifting. Now, I haven’t put bodybuilding 100% to the side, but my training approach is better-termed “powerbuilding” than either pure bodybuilding or pure powerlifting.

Which is the approach that I prescribe in my training and nutrition eBooks “The Upgraded Man”, “The Upgraded Woman”, and “Rock It Old School”. All of which are linked below.

And going by a combination of the mirror, scale, and bio-electrical impedance analysis, I have indeed added noticeable overall size using this approach in a relatively short time frame.

Here’s a photo of me with friends taken while hiking at Bear Mountain State Park this past Sunday, September 23rd. I am not only visibly bigger than I was before, but thicker too. All around. You can look at some of my older videos, from 2014, and compare the difference of just 4 years.

And I am not some kind of “manlet”, either. I am 6-feet tall, which means that I have more body frame to have to fill out than someone shorter. And I am, and always have been, drug-free.

And this is really the direction I want my physique to keep going, so I am very happy with what I am seeing. I favor a big, thick, strong, yoked type appearance.

Like a well-fed, ancient Celtic warrior. Which were my people.

But, to each their own. Some people aim for a more defined, beach-body type look. And this is why I offer science-based training and nutrition eBooks for every conceivable goal.

And that includes achieving results more along the lines of these two clients of mine.

I recommend that you check out the physique survey that I’ve linked down in the description. It can get you on the right path for YOU.

But, in any case, this brings me to what happened.

About three weeks ago, a long-standing issue finally caught up with me. After decades of “improper posture” while sitting at computers, two of the vertebrae in my lower back had become “squeezed” together. For lack of a better way to describe it. Luckily, I didn’t have any disc issues though.

All of my other vertebrae had a healthy spacing between them, except for two in particular.

And this was visible in my x-rays.

Now, combine this issue with the heavy spinal compression from squatting upwards to 3-times-per-week, and I had the perfect recipe for pain!

Every time I stood up after sitting for a while, it would hurt.

And during and after heavy Squats, it would REALLY hurt, and that pain would linger into the next day. Squats just made my situation worse. And pain-killers didn’t help much at all.

So, I instantly stopped all spinal-compression exercises, such as squats and overhead presses. For good measure, I also stopped all exercises that put my lower back in a compromised position, such as deadlifts, weighted hypers, and pendlay rows.

I wanted to give my body a break, and allow it to recover unimpeded.

I even went so far as to drop certain isolation work like lateral raises. You see, when the dumbbells were held at my sides, I could feel a bit of compression on my spine. Hell, even standing barbell curls presented a bit of spinal-compression in the hanging position.

So, I switched over to prone and lying exercise variations, and kept performing exercises that opened up my lower back via a deep stretch, such as chin-ups from a dead-hang.

When these adjustments didn’t correct the issue on their own, I began seeing a chiropractor.

It was the chiropractor who took the x-rays, diagnosed the root issue, which he called “Vertebral Subluxation Complex”, and has been working with me on correcting it.

And I have to say, as of last Thursday, I feel pretty fucking good! I’d say I’m 95% – 98% better than I was when I first walked into his office weeks back.

So, I am gonna give this a couple more weeks, and then work back lightly into squats, deadlifts, etc. Because I really miss them.

And then I’ll progressively work back toward my 3-5 rep maxes on those lifts from there.

I have kept benching, though. Both flat and incline. As neither have presented any issues.

At this point I’d like to share the exact exercise routine that has helped me continue to train through this injury. In fact, my chiropractor did not want me to stop training. But, he agreed with a modified training approach.

So, I designed this routine for myself after a lot of consideration and research, and it has worked well for me.

It’s a 3-day, full-body program. I alternate between workout A and workout B, and I train Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It’s a bit lighter than how I normally train, at least on compound lifts, but I still get a good workout. As I mentioned, it relies on a lot of prone or lying exercises, along with exercises that open-up the spine. Feel free to pause the video here, and take notes if you like.

The frequency, volume, rep range, and rest times are all supported by research to promote optimal muscle growth.

And before someone asks, the Leg Press I am using is not the 45-degree variety, but rather a Life Fitness brand seated leg press, which operates at a different angle.

I feel this variation puts FAR less stress on my back than the 45-degree version or the hack squat machine.

I also add resistance bands to the leg press, to maintain tension on my thighs throughout the lift, from top-to-bottom. This provides some added challenge.

It certainly isn’t a replacement for squats, but it suffices as a temporary stand-in. It’s better than nothing. And it’s better than relying on the leg extension machine for my quads.

In fact, according to EMG data, for what it’s worth, the leg press IS pretty close to the squat when it comes to quadriceps activation.

You just don’t get near the amount of total body muscle activation that you would from squatting, nor the level of overall strength gain.

Nor even close to the same hormonal benefits when compared to the squat.

But, hey, I gotta do what I gotta do for now. I just want to make it clear that I am in no way promoting leg presses, in general, over squats.

You’ll also notice that I am performing pullups and dips with body weight alone, and going to failure. Normally, I’d hang weight plates from a belt while performing pullups or dips to add resistance in order to hit a particular rep range, but I feel that also puts added stress on my lower back.

Basically, everything in that routine is there for the specific purpose of not exacerbating my lower back issue.

So, this is what I have been doing, and this is what has been working for me, allowing me to train through this injury, if you want to call it that.

Maybe it will give some of you ideas.

Anyway, drop all of your comments and questions below. Perhaps you’ve been through something similar, and have some words of wisdom to share with everyone.

We all face set backs sometimes, but it is important how we approach those set backs when they do occur. We can either shut down entirely, or push through strategically. I prefer the latter, whenever possible.

Did you know that it is estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience at least one episode of back pain at some point in their lives?

That’s why I felt that making this video would be of use to people.

REFERENCES:

Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25932981

Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27433992

Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24714538

Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853914

SuppVersity EMG Series – Gluteus maximus, Quadriceps femoris, Gastrocnemius, Soleus & More: The Very Best Exercises for Tree-Trunk Legs and Herculean Calves http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2011/08/suppversity-emg-series-gluteaus-maximus.html

The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24276305

Epidemiology and risk factors for spine pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17445733

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