Leg Day = Sore Back?

Last night was leg night, and just like last leg night, my lower back is sore. Not like a sharp pain or anything, but kind of like I got punched (with a BIG fist) and it hurts hours later.

I haven’t done squats since my back has been hurting - the only “hard” stuff was leg press. I’ve also been doing a hamstring leg press, seated and standing calf press, leg curls and leg extensions.

Any reason this would hurt my back? Anyone else have this problem? I’ve been doing these exercises for a couple of months and have never had this problem.

Check your form on the leg press – are you keeping your lower back pinned to the pads? If you let your back come off the pads AT ALL to get depth, you’re asking for back problems.

The leg press can be a real back breaker. When you lower the weight there is a tendency to move your hips forward and round your lower back. So not only does your back contribute to supporting and moving the weight but because the remaining part of your back is fixed on the support pad the stress on your back is isolated to your lower back (it’s kinda like closing a safty pin, the pin being your spine - the upper part of your spine is held in position by the back support the lower part is pushed forward by the weight you are using). For some reason (maybe because the remaining part of the spine is not under load) a rounded back is often not noticed when using the leg press.

To get more range of motion it is probably even more necessary to stretch your glutes/hams than it is for the squats. If you have the same problem with the squats you should check your squat form and do some exercises to strengthen your lower back.

Forget about leg presses - they kill my lower back too - but nothing some Advil and ab flexing won’t take care of in a day. You’ll get much better quad development with squats. Check out the article on squatting in this month’s issue - the tips really help.

The standing calf raises are what is hurting your lower back–I’ve been there. Having the weight on top of your shoulders compresses your spine, and if you’re like me, you’re calves can handle much more weight than the discs in your spine can. Stop doing the standing calf raises for a couple of weeks and do seated raises only. See if that helps.