If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how many days per week they should be training their arms or legs, I would be quite well off. But rarely does anyone ask me about how many days they should practice strengthening their backs! If you look at the data behind the most common reasons why people visit the doctor it never really has to do with how weak the biceps or calves are; people overwhelmingly see the doctor because they have hurt their backs. So we have to ask why this is happening so much and how to can we fix this from occurring
Lack of core strength and improper posture are the root cause of most back ailments. At no other time in our history have we humans been so sedentary. ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ is the new tag line for 21st century America. When we neglect muscles they get weaker and when weak muscles cannot support the Skeleton, we form bad postural habits and BANG, you have injury and chronic pain.
To avoid a future path of doctor visits, chiropractic sessions and pain medication, take heed to the advice im giving you because it is simple and easy to follow . Im going to break down the best back exercises for you in three Catergories;
Isometric Strength Exercsies.
Isometric exercise is defined as a position where the joint angle does not change during contraction. It goes like this. pick up something in your hand, bend the elbow at 90 degrees and hold! The strength that you are using to hold the elbow in place and not drop the object is an isometric force. So now lets talk about the back.
-Hip Hinge. The hip hinge is the BEST exercise for developing posture, position and strength throughout the entire Posterior. Begin with the feet under the hips, the core tight and the arms extended Overhead. Soften the knees and push the butt backward and allow the head, chest, and arms to fall forward. Keep your arms full extended and keep reaching backward until your flexibility begins to round your back.
Your goal is to be able to hold a :45 Hip Hinge without rounding the back or breaking posture.
-Front Loaded Hold. I want to tell you something that will make you smarter than most; the core (think abs) and the back are one in the same! Thats right, what you do to one side of the body, effects the other. Especially when it comes to holding things.
The Front Loaded Hold is exactly what it sounds like, pick up heavy stuff, bear hug it, and dont move. You will be firing every muscle in your body from your shoulders to your feet. In the gym setting this is a relatively simple exercise to perform, use a medicine ball, sandbag, stone, or weight plate. At home you can use heavy objects like a box filled with photographs, your kid, and even your dog. (cats dont work so well sorry :()
The Goal is to hold the heavy object for 1:00 X 3 attempts.
Dynamic Strength Exercises.
Now we get into the fun stuff. Everyone loves to clang and bang in the gym, lift , carry and pull. So I have some great exercises for you to either incorporate into your current workouts or throw together for a 3X per week triplet.
-Deadlift. The king of all back exercises not because of how good it is for your hips and butt, but because the posture and position necessary for a good deadlift ensure that the back is firing from the neck through the hamstrings. Key Points of Performance;
a) keep the knees slightly bent to allow the hips to travel backward
b) keep the hips high and dont let the knees pass in front of the forearms
c) set up is key. Ensure the shoulders are rolled back and core is tight before descending to the weights.
-Ring Row. No Other exercise is more approachable and scalable Than the ring row. It uses the core and trunk to stabilize the hips and the upper back gets toned because it specifically targets the rhomboids, trapezius, and deltoids. Here are the Keys to performing this exercise right;
a) keep the hips upright and dont let them sag during the movement.
b) pull the rings ALL the way to the chest, if you need move the feet forward or backward to scale difficulty.
c) turn the palms inward, upward, or pull to wide to engage different muscles in the back.
Accessory Exercises .
Rounding out your workout each day with a few of my favorite Back accessory exercises guarantees that you will never miss an opportunity to develop better posture and strength.
-Farmer Carry. Demonstrating Stability while moving is a great test of your ability to hold position under stress. The key is to retract the shoulders and keep the core engaged and before you know it, you will feel your entire back light up.
-Chin Over the bar Hold. This isometric exercise is awesome if you are working towards better pull ups because so much of that exercsie depends on the strength you have in the back and not so much the arms. The key is to use bands to help you hold for :15-:20 with the chin neutral over the plane of the pull up bar.
-Kettlebell Swing. Once you have mastered the hip hinge and the back is able to stay straight during a deadlift, then you can begin to work dynamically. The kettlebell swing developed not just strength but POWER through the hips and low back. The key is to work slowly, progressing weight only when form dictates. Start with a Russian swing and keep the Kettlebell in close to the body to enforce the hip hinging movement.
All things begin equal, longevity and quality of life are more important than any aesthetic goal that you can be focused on. Working the back muscles will give you better posture and by default, less injury and pain. Training with a coach and others who also practice good habits in and out of the gym is important. And finally, love the process. If you are struggling now, just remember that it took many years to get you into the place you are at now; you can have the diligence to work for 6-8 months to get the life you want back. I will be here to support you the entire way.
Programming Notes 9/30-10/4 ** This is week 4 of the varied metabolic work. Friday is a slow beginning, focusing on quality movement and rest. And then we turn it on for a yucky 10 round anaerobic piece. This week is also the first time back in Tempo Squatting. The barbell is Front Racked and we work slow and low.
10 Leg Swings
10 Single Leg Toe Touches
10 Kip Swings
10 Banded Pass Thru
Snatch Warm up:
-Snatch High Pull
-Behind Neck Press
1X Hang Power Snatch (Above Knee)
1X Hang Power Snatch (Below Knee)
20 Minute AMRAP
12 Chest to Bar Pull Ups
12 Single Arm Kettlebell Swings
12 V Ups
12 Walking Barbell Front Rack Lunges 95/65 115/75
250 m Row
20’ Duck Walk
20’ Bear Crawl
20’ Crab Walk
20’ Lateral Single Leg Bounding
Squat Flow: Squat Flow: Kang Squat, Internal Rotation, Ankle Roll Out, Bootstraps, PNF Stretch, Squat W/ T Spine Stretch
Tempo Front Squat
3X8 * Across Sets
16 Ring Push Ups *feet on Box Optional
24 Alternating Pistol Squats
Agility Warm Up @ 10m Each
High Knee Pull
Squat 180 **stepping the leg high over hip, swing opposite leg to 180, squat
Marching High Kicks
Straight leg shuffles
Fig 4 Drill
Sprint W/ Change of Direction
7 XShuttle Sprints
Out to 50’/ Back
Out to 100’/ Back
-Rest 1:30 between-
*Change Direction different ways each sprint
4X 3 Minute AMRAP
Row 18 Cals
18 Lateral Jumps Over Erg
Max Deadlift @ 115/75
Row 15 Cals
15 Lateral Hops Over Erg
Max Deadlift 135/95
Row 12 Cals
12 Lateral Hops Over Erg
Max Deadlift 155/105
Row 9 Cals
9 Lateral Hops over Erg
Max Deadlift 205/135
5:00 Assault Bike -Easy
10 Banded Pull Aparts
10 Arm Banded Bench Press
10 Arm Banded Wall Squats
10 Banded trunk Twist
Shoulder Prep W/ 5# Plates:
-Bent Scarecrow + External Rotation
-Bent Reverse Flys
-Bent Scarecrow + Press
-standing front Raises
-Standing Lateral Raises
-Standing Y Press
-Standing Cross Over Presses
Single Arm Dumbbell Clean and Jerk 50/35
Burpee Box Jump Over 20”
*Change arms on C&J at any time
4X:30 @ Each
-Elbow To Instep Lunge
-Supine Ring Row Hold *feet on box
Varied Metabolic Output #4
5X5 *Across Sets
-Rest Exactly 2:00 between sets-
5 Rounds Not For Time
10 Dumbbell Step Up
5 Muscle Ups
-Rest 1:00 between rounds-
*Move at consistent, not hurried pace
10 Rounds @ Max Output.
10 Cal Row
10 Cal Assault Runner
10 Cal Bike
-Rest :45 Between Intervals-