Back Restoration

Posted by Louie Simmons

Most lifters have some idea of how Westside trains.It is a ratio of 20 percent barbell training with 80 percent small special exercises. This leads to a high level of general physical preparedness.

The Westside system calls for four standard workouts: two for the upper body and two for the lower body. Westside does not do a block of training restoration work after a period of high volume along with high intensity, but rather continuously does several small special workouts or back restoration.

 Recovery is essential to all athletes, but more so to the powerlifter that places very large, if not, critical loads on the spine. One must also regain energy. There must be rest between workouts. For extreme workouts, 72 hours of rest between workouts is necessary. Small workouts can be done every 12 to 24 hours.

The workouts that occur every 12 to 24 hours are the mainstay of Westside success. We have a list of 26 1,000-plus lifters, two with over 1,200-pound squats and 25 with 800-pound deadlifts, plus four over 900 pounds, all with healthy backs.

When constantly lifting extreme loads, the first thing Westside maintains is spinal traction. Westside athletes use two types of inversion tables several times a week while at Westside. At home they will lie on the floor face-up with their feet and legs on the seat of the chair with their legs bent. Many can hang from a chin-up bar, but not everyone can relax while hanging.

On occasion, they visit our chiropractor and use a split table with the traction force up to 100 kg. All of the above procedures will help pain, flexibility, and posture. Special attention is paid to the iliopsoas. It must be stretched or released by our ART therapist. If the iliopsoas is tight, it can cause one to bend over forward as there is no opposing muscle to keep proper posture.

You must learn to hold your air when lifting heavy loads. This will increase intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). To learn how, push out on your powerbelt not only to the front, but also the sides. We are referring to the valsalva maneuver.

Try lying down and placing a weight or medicine ball on your stomach and try to raise the resistance by expanding your stomach. Also, walk with a medicine ball while holding it against your stomach. For the prevention of lower back injuries, the abs must be extremely strong.

Look at the list of ab exercises below:

-side bends

-incline sit-ups

-straight leg sit-ups

-hanging leg raise

-lying leg raise

-weight sled walking with strap around ankle

-zercher lift

-lifting without a belt with caution

-twisting

These are just a few examples.

A popular exercise on a strap model builds not only the rectus abdominis muscle, but also the deep muscles of the lumbar. Especially the epaxial muscles, which are hard to activate with regular training. There are two common methods: 1) stand against a wall and try to push your lower back into the wall, or 2) if the first is too difficult, mount a reverse hyper with a strap.

Place toes against plates and push plates forward and restrict the reverse motion for high reps to failure. This exercise has a great effect on the deep muscles underneath the spinal erectors and will correct pelvic tilt. These two exercises build unheard of strength, while also acting as restoration. At Westside we never do rehab because we do prehab all the time.

One exercise is the reverse hyper. While doing reverse hypers with light or heavy weights, the movement will rotate the lower back in an open chain method. By lying on the table with the legs hanging downward, traction of the spine occurs. At the same time, the arms are also causing traction due to being stretched in the opposite direction when doing the exercise.

When lying on the table on your stomach, your I.A.P. is raised, aiding in reducing pressure on the discs, as well as increasing disc hydration. Westside total volume on reverse hypers is four times the squat volume. This is done in sets of 20 reps. The weight is 50 percent of your squat on all reverse hypers with the exception of the Bent Pendulum, which is mechanically much more difficult.

Reverse hypers are done four times a week on squat and deadlift days, Monday and Friday, with heavy weights. On bench days, Wednesday and Saturday, reverse hypers are done with 50 percent of the top weight for two sets of 25 or 30 reps.

While it is said that 44 percent to 50 percent of all athletes have lower back pain, Westside has virtually none. Your abs and lower back must be as strong as possible. This requires finding a way to train the lower back extensively. The answer: reverse hypers along with back raises and high rep Goodmornings with a bar, rubber bands, or a Goodmorning machine. 

The second method to build a strong back and work as restoration is the Westside Athletic Training Platform or ATP, a special patented belt squat device. Science and Practice of Strength Training tells us it is necessary to greatly reduce the load falling on the lumbar section of the spine and to strengthen the lower back muscles.

The ATP greatly reduces the spinal load, while maximally strengthening the legs, glutes, and hips to the extreme. It uses a belt fixed around the waist that provides spinal traction, while allowing great muscle tension from the feet completely to the legs, hips, glutes, and lower back and abs. Westside has used weights in excess of 2,000 pounds. The massive weights are for building unbelievable squats and pulls.

When using light weights for isometric holds or walking in place for spinal traction, this method is more and more common in chiropractic and therapy centers for rehabilitation.

The special belt produces increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), while simultaneously producing great special traction.

When one has handled maximal loads while squatting, holding the weight at the start of the lift feels very heavy before bending the knees. The isometric holds will change this completely.

Westside has trained children as young as seven-years-old on the ATP for preparing them for all sports, as it builds all the lower body muscles including the abs. Before going on to a very important element of back health, there are many types of special therapies and many times the practitioner will convince you their method is best. However, in most cases it could take several methods concurrently to restore you back to health.

 

Hamstring Training

Let’s talk hamstrings. If your low back is tight, it is a safe bet that your hamstrings are also tight, causing low back pain as well. A bilateral deficit can cause an imbalance, while performing sports activities that include squatting, running, jumping, and pulling and pressing overhead.

This can cause low back pain. The bilateral of seven percent can cause injury or a hamstring ratio of less than 40 percent of the quads can also cause injury. A female sprinter and world record holder in the squat was tested at The Ohio State University with 60 percent hamstring and 40 percent quads.

This, to date, was the highest such ratio ever tested at O.S.U. In untrained athletes using bilateral movements, the total force produced is less than the sum of both left and right limbs (Henry & Smith 1961, Coyle 1984-1987). To correct this, single leg jumps and step-ups can be entered into training for the legs. One arm presses at different angles are used. Also, one arm push-ups or pull-down are done.

Here’s how to train the hamstrings: Multi-joint exercises are used first. Squatting correctly, meaning sitting back as the first movement in the exercise, engages the glutes and hamstrings.

The Goodmorning is also excellent for building the hamstrings. To begin a Goodmorning one must first push the glutes to the rear to activate the hamstrings and then bend over with an arches or a round upper back only. To return, you must apply force to the bar to come erect. This places a great force on the hamstrings. Regular deadlifts apply the same force on the hamstrings as stiff-leg style.

 

Next Use Small Special Exercises

Regular lying leg curls are our least-used exercise at Westside, as this action is not used in sports activities. A sport activity produces stress on the hamstring at the knee and the glute tie-end simultaneously.

The lying hamstring curl does not. I will save the best for last, but here is a list: calf-ham-glute raises (high reps for conditioning or low reps with resistance for two to six reps, use single or both legs), standing leg curl (this really hits the lower hamstring for knee flexion). The standing leg curl is a single-leg exercise.

The Westside patented INVERSE CURL™ simulates a Russian leg curl where one holds your ankles while lying face down on the floor and leg curls up to your knees without a push-up with your hands. Almost no one can do a single rep.

The Inverse is engineered to use a counterweight to lighten the body enough to do a full rep correctly. After mastering your weight plus the extra weight, start reducing the weight on the weight arm slightly week after week until you are using only the support arm. Only at that point is it time to drop the arm to the ground and do a legitimate Russian leg curl.

Westside's latest intern, Courtney, came to Westside with a 255 squat and a 205 deadlift. At that time she used 35 pounds on the inverse curl. Six weeks later she squatted 330 pounds and deadlifted 310 pounds standing on a two-inch mat. This is a direct parallel result to her performance on the inverse curl.

After picking one or two major hamstring exercises, Westside will do 100 or 200 reps of leg curls with ankle weights or rubber bands. The ankle weights can range from five pounds to 20 pounds and the band curls can be performed with mini bands up to the strong bands, for the very large, very strong athletes. Don’t forget to stretch your calves. Tight calves can have an effect on a tight back if they are not lengthening properly. 

Louie