Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Bad Back, One Workout

I recently had a client who injured his back - wrenched it severely enough to take a day off training. But this client wants to lose some fat and get in shape, so we had to do a workout that had zero back impact. I thought it might be interesting to see what I did. I'm not claiming this is optimal - I had to come up with it last-minute, basically, and just put it into play. But it worked.

Warmup: Light biking, very low resistance, followed by shoulder warmups.

1) Band Pull Apart set - front and back band pull-apart for a set of 10-15 each.

2A) Neutral Grip DB Press - standing, palms facing.
2B) Kneeling neutral grip pulldown - using one of those "v" handles.
2C) Med Ball Chest Pass - basically, slam a med ball against the wall and catch it, using a forward passing motion. No hips or back.

3A) Barbell Pushups - one a much higher bar than usual, but for more sets.
3B) Two-Handed Standing Cable Row

4) Farmer's Walks - two dumbbells, placed high up so the client didn't need to bend down to get them at all.

No cardio because the bike hurt on higher resistance, no stretching, not much mobility work because the back hurt too much. Just a nice upper body push/pull plus some walking with weights.

Like I said, I can't vouch for this as optimal or idea. But it worked, and got the client tired and in a sweat, and let him set a PR for pulldowns and try something new (Farmer's Walks) without any back strain. I'd be happy to field questions and take comments and constructive criticism on this.

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  1. Great workout! Now, what if he comes back for the next one, and his back pain isn't enough better to resume his usual routine. Can you make a second complimentary workout that still works for him?

  2. That is a very good question, Andy. My current thought is to use slight variations, while staying bilateral (to avoid loading the spine in an uneven fashion). If that's not possible, I'll just change the rep range and/or make it into a circuit for time.

    My goal is to get him a training effect without pain, so if I have to overlap, so be it. If his goal was maximal strength I might take a different approach, but for general fitness, why not circuit and vary the reps?


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