Problems With 5x5 Program

Hi there,

So, I’ve been on the Stronglifts 5x5 program and even though made good progress, I was enlightened to the fact my form was pretty bad. I made good progress as far as weight, but since I never used a gym and do my workouts alone, the form turned out to be an issue.

My first problem came about 2 months ago doing OH press, somehow I pulled back muscle, but after 2 days or so it went away. I lowered the weight and kept going. Then two weeks later, being concerned with the form, I made a stupid mistake of checking my form on body squat and turned my head to a side, then all the sudden I pulled a muscle again on the left side of my middle back.

I was then out for a week, barely able to move at all. At that point I concentrated only on doing hip/glute exercises to loosen up my hips. Eventually, reading articles here and elsewhere I realized my posture might be an issue. I couldn’t just go back to the Stronglifts program, and figured I’d stick with mobility stuff for a while and try to correct the issues with pushups. Pushups seem to be really good for that.

Well, I was doing pushups for couple of days and everything was good. I was getting back to feeling good again. I also got advise to do variations of squats in the form of lunges, reverse lunges, split squats to help in my problems. I decided on a program that would basically involve lunge variation, pushups, rows, and bench press only.

I would also only use dumbbells, no bar for now. Yesterday I started the first day of that program, did reverse lunges, pushups and incline rows. All felt good, my legs afterwords were feeling a bit sore, good sign for me to still getting good workout.

However, later in the evening my back pain returned. Still in the middle of my back, but this time the pain moved from left to the right side. This morning the pain is there, not as bad, but I needed to take pain killer/muscle relaxer to help.

I’m really disappointed at this point, not sure what I can and cannot do anymore. I suppose the rows were the cause for the current issue. Any advise would be appreciated.

P.S. sorry for a longish post.

Next time break your paragraph up, it’s impossible to read. Secondly, maybe you are using momentum when doing rows, or you never gave your back enough rest in the first place. Is the weight too heavy? Do you play any sports or do any activities outside the gym? A lot of things could give you back problems. give it rest!


Thanks for the response. Well, I don’t think the weight was too heavy. When I was on regular program I was doing rows with 150lb with somewhat decent form. The rows I did last time were on a bench in inclined position so I was able to make sure the form was good, and I only used 30lb dumbbels as I obviously didn’t want to stress my back too much.
I don’t play anything, I’m almost 35 year old, with long hours desk job and two little girls to take care of. So, no, there is no time for other activities, that’s probably one of the problems here.

I suppose I will have to stay away from any decent weight for a while and try again later as I am lost at why all the issues.

I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think pulled muscles go away in 1-2 days.

And turning your head to the side during a squat shouldn’t affect your lower/mid back. I mean, I’m all about the body working as a single unit, and I can kinda see the ripple effect turning your head would have on your traps, which pull the spinal erecters, which in turn affect your lower back, but… as for a 60 degree turn being an egregious enough error to cause visceral damage to your back… not buying it.

I’m not doubting your pain, I’m just not reaching the same conclusion as to it’s cause.

To help, first read/watch proper form.
OH Presses: make sure your back doesn’t do this:Serge Redding - 502lb. (228kg.) Clean & Press - YouTube

Other tips in Injury prevention:
ROM: generally, the greater the range-of-motion, the lower the incidence of injury.

warmup: dynamic warm-ups for the hips are highly recommended (You can find a number through a google or T-Nation search, but the best thing to do is shell out the $50 and buy Cressey and Robertson’s ‘Magnificent Mobility’. You can find it at the T-Nation store, and it’s worth the money.)

Stretching: After a workout, statically stretch your hamstrings and quads. Other muscles are good too, but anecdotally, I find these provide the most bang for the buck. Ian King wrote a decent article on stretching here:

I think, though, that the weird muscle pains you’re getting call for increasing strength in your lower back and abs more than anything else. Which means… deadlifts. And leg raises, if you can do them without a curve developing in your lower back.

That said (and I apologize for the long post), I’ve had some injury problems, and these things fixed them and allow me to lift pain free. I’m 21 though. The best thing to do would be to find Eric Cressey or Mike Robertson in the author’s locker room and repost this in there to ask their opinion. They’ll probably ask you more detailed questions and give you a much more accurate response.

Good luck.