T Nation

Lower Back as Synergist with Upper

how well does the lowerback get worked as a synergist with
upperback / lat exercise like chin-ups , heavish DB rows 10 reps for work sets, horizontol rowing.

Doing deadlifts squats etc is out for a while due to manual labour. I could still go heavish on things like rows chins etc. How well do you think the lowerback will get worked doing this?

The work will consist of primarily wheelbarrowing 150lb-200lb (and shovelling , lifting blocks perhaps 55lb bags nothing particularly demanding. )

Any anecdotal input is very welcome.


I worked manual labor last summer, lifting a lot of heavy things and going up and down ladders all day 6 days per week for a minimum of 8 hours and more often 10 hours. I squatted twice a week and DLed one per week with no issues. Do your leg work, I’m guessing you will not have issues.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

A friend of mine was (is) a very good DLer, his best was 287.5kg @99.5kg bodyweight at about 42y.o.
His job involved was digging the roads up to install / repair gas pipes. Hard manual labour didn’t hold his DL back much! He was, however used to the job, i.e. it was his regular job not a summer job. I guess you can get used to most workloads.

BBB has some good thoughts there, nicely done man.

I think that the human body can adapt to anything given the right circumstances. Meaning proper diet, rest and no preexisting injuries. (to name a few things)

I usually work a few days a week doing manual labour, during University Holidays I do it for the whole duration. In my experience, it helps if anything, although depends really what work you are doing. Some jobs can be very taxing on the lower back, so make sure you use ‘good form’ especially when doing repetitive tasks. Get your wheelbarrow technique down and be careful of twisting your knees/feet running across planks (if you ever do that, lol.)

I consider a carryover on both aspects, some lifting at work seems to recruit a lot of stabiliser muscles particularly in the wrists/forearms etc. You will find your overall work capacity will increase as well. If you wanna gain weight make sure you eat a lot more, because you will be burning more calories.

Although as BBB pointed out, some people can’t do a lot of work + lifting; you just gotta find out for yourself!

I recently (2 months ago) did a pretty large landscaping project at home where I moved 6 YARDS of dirt from my driveway to the new garden. In addition to the dirt I also removed 1 small stump and 3 large bushes. After about the 100th swing of the axe, that was feeling pretty heavy as well!

Now this was just 1.5 days of work (about 12 hours total), but I didn’t even “think” about doing DL or squats for about a week after that. I’m also 30 years old and just don’t recover as quickly anymore.

The other thing I did, specifically when shovelilng dirt into the wheelbarrow was to alternate which side I shovelling from: 10 scoops left handed, 10 scoops right handed for example. That was to give my forearms and upper back a break.