Bulletproofing Your Spine Series: Reverse Hyper

Westside Barbell
Thu Feb 16, 2017

“Clearly, for athletes to develop physical capacities required to provide a protective effect against injury, they must be prepared to TRAIN HARD.” – Tim Gabbett PhD

The reverse hyper developed by Westside Barbell owner Louie Simmons has been used by the strongest gym in the world for decades, generations of lifters and athletes, WITHOUT causing spinal injury. Critics of the reverse hyper claim it’s unhealthy and dangerous for the spine. The only thing dangerous and unhealthy about the reverse hyper is NOT regularly performing it.

For one to develop physical capacity, they must be optimally exposed to the hard physical stressors of training. Training loads, specifically external training load, will be the main stressor of focus in regards to the reverse hyper. External training load (i.e. physical work) is critical in understanding the work completed and capabilities/capacities of the individual. Simply, defined as the amount of weight lifted in regards to weight training.

It’s vital to understand training with NO progressive increase in external training load will NOT develop increased strength. All the high repetitions non loading back exercises (bird dog crunches, cat camel, etc.) do NOT develop strength. Strength development of the spine or any biological tissue requires a progressive increase in external loading.

“…the use of very mild back exercises will do VERY LITTLE to increase the functional strength of the large and powerful muscles of the back. To strengthen the back, one must CHALLENGE the back muscle adequately and gradually INCREASE the TRAINING LOAD which work the back through its FULL FUNCTIONAL RANGE, otherwise THE BACK WILL REMAIN AS WEAK AS IT WAS and recurrence of back problems is inevitable.” – Mel Siff PhD, MSc

High repetitions training with NO progressive increase in external loading will develop muscular endurance, some hypertrophy, but NOT strength. Strengthening the spine requires exposing the tissues to progressive external loading training stressors in an optimal setting. There is NO better exercise that allows an individual to progressively overload using external load to strengthen the spine than the reverse hyper

By John Quint 



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John Quint NMT, FR, FRCms, ART, CAFS