Oh Back Day…how I love you? Let me count the ways!
- A strong back = a great way to avoid future neck, shoulder, and back pain.
- A well trained back = a balanced physique (people tend to work their “push” muscles than their “pull” muscles).
- Helps improve posture – showcasing a “leaner” look.
Back muscles are one of the most important muscle groups to ever work out (I’ll talk about Leg Day in a couple of weeks). Think about it, we use our back in almost everything that we do whether mundane like bending over to tie your shoe to getting out of bed or complex like bouldering and playing kickball (if you pitch to me, I prefer a baby bounce pitch…). So yes, it’s key to keep your back strong.
Pull-Ups, Rows, and Deadlifts are the three quintessential exercises that workout your back, including the many variations out there. For this week, we’ll focus on the deadlift – my fave!
With the Olympic barbell set on the ground with your starting weight, stand center of the bar with your feet positioned at shoulder distance apart and toes pointed at a 45-degree angle. Squat down with your knees and use a reverse grip to grab the bar. Take note that your elbows should be on the outside of your knees. Dip your hips down so that you are no longer bent over the bar and slowly stand up. Your arms should be straight with a slight bend at the elbow. As you stand, the bar should be raised up to your hips (slightly above or below depending on the person). Slowly lower the weight back down to the ground. That’s one rep. Keep your back straight throughout the entire exercise and your eyes should either look up or forward.
Whether from rucking with XXX lbs of weight on you, heaving a giant log with your team on all of your shoulders, or stepping up to carry a casualty, you and your team will need your back to be healthy and strong. The last thing you’ll ever want to do during a GR event is to throw out your back while changing socks – so take care of yourself!
Stay strong, keep breathing, and finish your m@#$%r f&*#@n’ set!
What You Will Need:
Jump Rope OR Treadmill, Track, or any place that you’re comfortable doing a light jog
Olympic Barbell + Weighted Plates
10 minutes of foam rolling
5 minutes of jump rope or 15 minutes light jogging
4 exercises, different sets, various reps
Rest for 1:30-2:00 minutes between sets.
Rest for 2:00-3:00 minutes between exercises.
- Set-up the Seated Lat Pull Down station before starting.
- Starting from a dead hang, perform as many body weight pull-ups as possible.
- If you can do 8-10 reps, great – you’ve completed your set.
- If you cannot complete the 8-10 reps, quickly move to the Seated Lat Pull Down station and perform until the 8-10 reps have been completed.
- That’s 1 set.
Bent Over Neutral Grip Single Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets of 8-10 reps per arm
- Using a flat bench, kneel over the bench.
- Keep your back flat.
- With a neutral grip, grab the dumbbell and slowly raise the weight so that your tricep is parallel to the ground.
- Lower it back down slowly so that the dumbbell is hovering over the ground.
- That’s 1 rep.
- Complete reps then switch sides.
Pull Through: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Treat this as your warm-up to your next exercise – the deadlift.
- Keep the resistance light and go slow.
Barbell Deadlift: 9 sets
- Have weight lifting chalk, wrist straps, and belt available.
- Record your weight progressions for the following pyramid set
12 reps ___________
10 reps ___________
8 reps ___________
6 reps ___________
5 reps ___________
4 reps ___________
3 reps ___________
2 reps ___________
1 rep ___________
Regarding the deadlift, try using only the lifting chalk (to dry out your hands and maximize your grip) only when needed and apply right before approaching the bar. Keep your use of the wrist straps and belt to a near minimal and only towards the end of the workout set as the weight increases. The reasoning behind this is that it will help increase your hand and forearm (aka grip) strength and to strengthen your lower back.
Also as you lift heavier, it will be easier to drop the weights between reps. It’s a common practice with those who do heavy, heavy deadlifts. Be mindful of your gym’s rules and do your best to be safe about it.