Out of the game for too long
It has been just over a year since I was hit with an episode of debilitating low back pain. It lasted through the winter and spring until the start of the summer and has been almost nonexistent since then (besides a short spasm episode a couple of weeks ago). The unfortunate consequence of this back pain is that I have been pretty gun shy on lifting weights again. I have done a handful of workouts but nothing substantial until this past week. I had a great (albeit light) lift at the hotel in Vancouver before I attended the latest NSCA professional development clinic. I have also been doing a private yoga practice weekly with a great instructor as well as a couple of times a week on my own. With improved flexibility and a seemingly healthy back I am ready to get back to weights but how does one go about that safely and effectively, especially after a lengthy back injury? I would like to outline over the next 5 weeks how I am returning to lifting and how you can safely re-integrate into an effective lifting program whether you are returning from injury or just took some time off.
Lying Hip Bridges
Single leg oblique band push
Assisted Chin Ups
10 left kicks, 10 right kicks
Flat Bench Press
Ball planks with mountain climber
The key to the first couple of weeks of weights is to keep things low volume and intersperse some cardio intervals into the training as to get the conditioning back. Before you can do longer workouts and higher volume, it helps to incorporate some cardiovascular work into the strength program. Notice the overhead squat and hip bridge combo at the start of the workout. Overhead squats force you to activate more core and maintain better alignment. If there are any shoulder issues front squats can be a good alternate. Hip bridges with a focus on glute and core linkage are a great way to get the glutes active after time away. Glutes tend to get lazy without training, especially if you sit a lot throughout the day. Balance tends to decrease very quickly when you cease training so I put in a single leg perturbation exercise to further activate core musculature and work the single leg stabilizers.
The next super-set gets the heart rate up with the rope slams (can use medicine ball if you don’t have a heavy rope) and kicks (I have a heavy bag but you can easily do air kicks or pad kicks with a partner) as well as my favourite upper body exercise: the chin up. I step into a band wrapped around the bar to get sufficient reps and will progress to unassisted chin ups as strength increases.
The third super-set works push and pull muscle groups with the press and row and then adds a stability abdominal exercise in between. With the ball planks, start off with a light alternating knee touch to the ball and progress to harder impacts as you improve strength and stability.
Keep in mind this workout is just an example of what works for me and that everyone needs to evaluate their own needs differently. Let me know if you have any questions about getting back into a regular weight program safely and effectively!