The muscles located in the lower back region play a critical role in both your daily performance and your overall posture. The interesting thing is most people neglect these muscles, even though they play a very important role in our lives. The lower back muscles (Erector Spinae) is the muscles that form the posterior chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings). Without a healthy and strong lower back you would not be able to (sprint, jog, catch a falling object, tie your shoe or lift anything above 15 lbs) The importance of training the lower back muscles should be your top priority. However, society most often train their bodies based on cosmetic goals. This often results to individuals not training muscles that is not visible in the mirror. This is a WRONG philosophy to embrace and if this is you, then it is time for a change. Here is a quick 10 minutes lower back workout design to increase strength and flexibility. 1. Hyper Extensions: Complete 3 sets X 20 reps Directions: Lie face down on a hyperextension bench, tucking your ankles securely under the footpads. Adjust the upper pad if possible so your upper thighs lie flat across the wide pad, leaving enough room for you to bend at the waist without any restriction. With your body straight, cross your arms in front of you (my preference) or behind your head. This will be your starting position. Tip: You can also hold a weight plate for extra resistance in front of you under your crossed arms.Start bending forward slowly at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back flat. Inhale as you perform this movement. Keep moving forward until you feel a nice stretch on the hamstrings and you can no longer keep going without a rounding of the back. Tip: Never round the back as you perform this exercise. Also, some people can go farther than others. The key thing is that you go as far as your body allows you to without rounding the back. Slowly raise your torso back to the initial position as you inhale. Tip: Avoid the temptation to arch your back past a straight line. Also, do not swing the torso at any time in order to protect the back from injury. 2. Barbell Deadlifts: Complete 4 sets X 10 reps Directions: Stand in front of a loaded barbell. While keeping the back as straight as possible, bend your knees, bend forward and grasp the bar using a medium (shoulder width) overhand grip. This will be the starting position of the exercise. Tip: If it is difficult to hold on to the bar with this grip, alternate your grip or use wrist straps. While holding the bar, start the lift by pushing with your legs while simultaneously getting your torso to the upright position as you breathe out. In the upright position, stick your chest out and contract the back by bringing the shoulder blades back. Think of how the soldiers in the military look when they are in standing in attention. Go back to the starting position by bending at the knees while simultaneously leaning the torso forward at the waist while keeping the back straight. When the weights on the bar touch the floor you are back at the starting position and ready to perform another repetition.Perform the amount of repetitions prescribed in the program. Caution: This is not an exercise to be taken lightly. If you have back issues, substitute it for a rowing motion instead. If you have a healthy back, ensure perfect form and never round the back as this can cause back injury. Be cautious as well with the weight used; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more. 3. Supermans: Complete 2 sets X 25 reps Directions: To begin, lie straight and face down on the floor or exercise mat. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you. This is the starting position.Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor and hold this contraction for 2 seconds. Tip: Squeeze your lower back to get the best results from this exercise. Remember to exhale during this movement. Note: When holding the contracted position, you should look like superman when he is flying. Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs and chest back down to the starting position while inhaling. Before all your workouts I encourage you perform a proper warm-up to prevent the chances of an injury occurring and also to allow you to get mentally and physically prepared to perform at your best.
August 20, 2013