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Obese and Back Hurts when Squatting


#1

I'm not a beginner in terms of experience, but I got married, stopped lifting, and over the course of 7 years got obese, so I am a beginner in terms of that and I really don't know where else to put this.

With that out of the way, I just started going back to the gym, eating better, walking more, etc. Other than the personal shame of getting a hands on experience of how much I have really let myself go, the biggest thing I am struggling with is squats. Even with low weight and even trying a box, I found I was leaning forward too much (weak back/core, big gut) and my lower back hurt. My lower back and core are far too weak to work my legs with the weights they need, so I am coming here for advice.

I know losing weight, getting re-acclimated to the gym, and strengthening my back and core will help my form and thus help my lower back, but is it just that simple and I have to wait it out (and replace squats with leg press?) or does anyone see something I might be missing? I know wearing a belt would help some, but I don't want to start relying on one as crutch even for light weight.


#2

after long layoff i had pain in lower back muscles not spine
i stoped doing sqauts for about six weeks and focused on lower back instead
after six weeks started sqauting with light weight and moving back up
before squats i would do light rdl ,good mornings as part of warmup


#3

if you are obese, then diet is the main thing. When you’re in the gym do whatever your current level of fitness and mobility allows. If you’re not up to doing squats yet, don’t worry about it. You’ll get there. In the meantime just do what you can. One day you’ll be able to do goblet squats to a high box, then you’ll lower the box, then you’ll be able to use a bar for front squats, then one day you’ll hit the almighty back squat.

…or maybe not. Your mobility and body type might be such that you never get to the back squat, but so what? Don’t kill yourself trying to do an exercise when there are better alternatives for you out there.

Get your diet locked down, lift weights two or three times a week, move really fast once or twice and week (careful with those joints though! A bike works well for spring work for obese people. I’d not try sprinting on a treadmill or running track until your weight was down) and move slowly-ish for a long time once or twice a week.

But seriously, 90% of your weight loss will be from your diet so get that shit sorted!


#4

Thanks for the advice fellas. Looks like patience is the key and I just need to keep trucking until I lose some weight and strengthen my lower back/core.

Yogi, yeah I am definitely eating better. Not perfect, but significantly better. After years of diets on and off and realizing I don’t have the willpower for anything too low carb or restrictive, but I think I found something that works for me that is a lot healthier than I would eat before and more importantly I don’t feel miserable doing it so it isn’t hard to sustain.

Before: IT desk job, zero physical activity, ate 1-2 meals a day of whatever and however much I wanted, drank Gatorade all day at work, etc.

Now: My wife and I got Disneyland passes (walking a few miles vs. sitting on the couch at home every weekend or so), I go to the gym 5 days a week now (legs, push, pull, push, pull), I drink nothing but water and enjoy a diet coke when we go on our weekly dates as a treat, and I eat 3x a day with significantly less carbs and fat and a lot more protein.

Nothing earth shattering, but it’s a lot of small changes that are adding up for me compared to what I did before I am noticing.


#5

[quote]daltron wrote:
Nothing earth shattering, but it’s a lot of small changes that are adding up for me compared to what I did before I am noticing.[/quote]
That’s exactly the way to go, man. Exactly.

And I officially x2 everything Yogi said. Great info, there. No need to jump right into back squats. Bodyweight squats, and eventually goblet squats, should be fine for a while. Leg press if you want to, just use a decent range of motion. Also maybe consider reverse lunges. They might be more difficult, strength-wise, but they shouldn’t bother your back.

And good instinct regarding the belt. It would just be a Band-Aid solution for now. There are much bigger priorities first, and it’s not that big a deal.


#6

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:
Nothing earth shattering, but it’s a lot of small changes that are adding up for me compared to what I did before I am noticing.[/quote]
That’s exactly the way to go, man. Exactly.

And I officially x2 everything Yogi said. Great info, there. No need to jump right into back squats. Bodyweight squats, and eventually goblet squats, should be fine for a while. Leg press if you want to, just use a decent range of motion. Also maybe consider reverse lunges. They might be more difficult, strength-wise, but they shouldn’t bother your back.

And good instinct regarding the belt. It would just be a Band-Aid solution for now. There are much bigger priorities first, and it’s not that big a deal.[/quote]

Thanks Chris, I didn’t even think of lunge variations in general. That sounds like a good way to go.


#7

Just a word of caution about a “weak core”. Most people lean forward on squats because their quads are too weak. Leaning forward transfers the load from your quads to your back, hips and hams. If you have strong quads you’ll naturally not shoot your hips back and the load on your back, hips, and hams will be considerably less.


#8

My quads have always been my best body part throughout life. Obviously now I am a lot weaker than I was, but my quads have always maintained a pretty decent amount of strength and size even when I haven’t worked out. I think my specific problem is I have a big gut pulling me forward and my lower back and core are too weak. I do appreciate the assistance, though.


#9

[quote]daltron wrote:
My quads have always been my best body part throughout life. Obviously now I am a lot weaker than I was, but my quads have always maintained a pretty decent amount of strength and size even when I haven’t worked out. I think my specific problem is I have a big gut pulling me forward and my lower back and core are too weak. I do appreciate the assistance, though.[/quote]

A video would work better. What is your max back and front squat? what makes you think your quads are strong?


#10

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
A video would work better. What is your max back and front squat? what makes you think your quads are strong?[/quote]

I can get a video, I plan to hit legs again next Monday so I’ll get one. I have not maxed anything on the squat this year and just started working out again two weeks ago. Strong is a relative word, so I don’t begin to pretend I am where anyone else is at or anything, I just meant compared to the rest of my body my quads aren’t a weak point. I just know when I tend to do things my quads tend to take over.

Last point of reference I have for quad strength is a dumb competition my friends and I did in October of 2013 (before that I had last lifted in the summer of 2010). Basically, what is the max you can squat off a high box after not lifting for so long. Nothing impressive and dumb because I shouldn’t have maxed after all that inactivity (I actually hurt my back and didn’t know it on this lift), but this is the only frame of reference for anything I have at the moment.

EDIT: OK, video didn’t attach. I just uploaded it to YT.


#11

you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs!


#12

[quote]Yogi wrote:
you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs![/quote]

Yeah, my form was real bad in that one. I can’t imagine what it looks like today almost 2 years later. In the mean time though, I’m just continuing to work on building basic strength all over. Even bodyweight hyper extensions are brutal at this point lol.


#13

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs![/quote]

Yeah, my form was real bad in that one. I can’t imagine what it looks like today almost 2 years later. In the mean time though, I’m just continuing to work on building basic strength all over. Even bodyweight hyper extensions are brutal at this point lol.[/quote]

I’m actually not a fan of hyperextensions, as most people tend to have an overworked lower back as it is. I think your time would be better spent training the hip extension function of glutes/hams instead of hyperextensions.

It’s usually the case that people’s lower backs are taking up too much of the slack, and hyperextensions exacerbate this, IMO.


#14

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs![/quote]

Yeah, my form was real bad in that one. I can’t imagine what it looks like today almost 2 years later. In the mean time though, I’m just continuing to work on building basic strength all over. Even bodyweight hyper extensions are brutal at this point lol.[/quote]

I’m actually not a fan of hyperextensions, as most people tend to have an overworked lower back as it is. I think your time would be better spent training the hip extension function of glutes/hams instead of hyperextensions.

It’s usually the case that people’s lower backs are taking up too much of the slack, and hyperextensions exacerbate this, IMO.[/quote]

This is what I am doing now: http://www.whatsteroids.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/hyperextension-exercises.jpg < same movement and apparatus.

What would you recommend I replace it with?


#15

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs![/quote]

Yeah, my form was real bad in that one. I can’t imagine what it looks like today almost 2 years later. In the mean time though, I’m just continuing to work on building basic strength all over. Even bodyweight hyper extensions are brutal at this point lol.[/quote]

I’m actually not a fan of hyperextensions, as most people tend to have an overworked lower back as it is. I think your time would be better spent training the hip extension function of glutes/hams instead of hyperextensions.

It’s usually the case that people’s lower backs are taking up too much of the slack, and hyperextensions exacerbate this, IMO.[/quote]

This is what I am doing now: http://www.whatsteroids.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/hyperextension-exercises.jpg < same movement and apparatus.

What would you recommend I replace it with?
[/quote]

yeah that’s the exercise I’d pictured.

If you are feeling it in your hamstrings then it’s probably ok, but most people feel it in their lower back and, IMO, people would be much better served training their glutes and hamstrings than their lower back, as the cause of most back pain is weak glutes and hams anyway (seems counterintuitive, as you’d think that if your back was sore then it’s what needs to be strengthened).

So something more focussed on your glutes and hams would be better, IMO. Romanian deadlifts, step ups or walking lunges would be my choice.


#16

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]daltron wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
you lose major tightness in your core when you come up off that box. Brace those abs![/quote]

Yeah, my form was real bad in that one. I can’t imagine what it looks like today almost 2 years later. In the mean time though, I’m just continuing to work on building basic strength all over. Even bodyweight hyper extensions are brutal at this point lol.[/quote]

I’m actually not a fan of hyperextensions, as most people tend to have an overworked lower back as it is. I think your time would be better spent training the hip extension function of glutes/hams instead of hyperextensions.

It’s usually the case that people’s lower backs are taking up too much of the slack, and hyperextensions exacerbate this, IMO.[/quote]

This is what I am doing now: http://www.whatsteroids.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/hyperextension-exercises.jpg < same movement and apparatus.

What would you recommend I replace it with?
[/quote]

yeah that’s the exercise I’d pictured.

If you are feeling it in your hamstrings then it’s probably ok, but most people feel it in their lower back and, IMO, people would be much better served training their glutes and hamstrings than their lower back, as the cause of most back pain is weak glutes and hams anyway (seems counterintuitive, as you’d think that if your back was sore then it’s what needs to be strengthened).

So something more focussed on your glutes and hams would be better, IMO. Romanian deadlifts, step ups or walking lunges would be my choice.[/quote]

That makes a lot of sense, I know the posterior chain can emit symptoms in other areas when the deficiency is actually somewhere else. Didn’t think of that, I just assumed a weak lower back. I don’t know if I feel comfortable doing any DL’s in my shape/weight at the moment, and step ups probably would be like hard conditioning at this point for me lol, but I think walking lunges would be perfect. I’m going to stop doing back extensions and replace them with walking lunges on legs day, thanks Yogi!