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Too Much Strain on Lower Back?


I've been doing 5/3/1 for about 5 months now and while I'm enjoying it and finally getting some strength back after a pretty bad neck injury, I think I'm starting to abuse my lower back too much.

I squat on monday, usually followed by some leg press, leg-curls(/GHR depending on which gym I'm in) and some calve raises. I usually bring my knees right up to my chest in the leg press and lately this has resulted in a small twinge in my lower back but nothing that worried me. While squatting the other day however my lower back felt very weak and was most certainly the limiting factor in my squats that day.

I bench on tuesday/wednesday(depending on work and college) and I need a lot of work for my lower(*EDIT: I meant upper back, not lower) back due to largely ignoring it when I first starting training so my assistance work is BB and DB rows. The DB's in my gym only go up to 30kg though so I've hit a snag there and have to rely more on BB rows. However these are very taxing on my lower back and even legs.

I deadlift on thursdays but most weeks I have given my back a bit of a beating the day before on my bench day and yesterday I really felt it. I had almost no stability in the lifts and barely got my prescribed(3) reps on a weight that I've gotten 10+ on in the past. They were very poor reps as well. My back felt strained all night and even today.

I press on friday but this presents no problems.

Given that I started off with Starting Strength and stayed on the TM for a while after that(which meant squatting three times a week and some weeks deadlifting heavy twice as well), do you guys think I'm simply asking too much of my back? Bear in mind I've been stronger in all my lifts before with and never had any problems, even with crazily high volume on fewer days.

Any help appreciated,


when yo leg press, keep everything positioned a'la squat, ie neutral spine etc, sounds like youre rounding it


Possibly, I've been trying to keep a narrow stance on the LP cos I squat pretty narrow compared to most and maybe that's exerting a strong pull on my pelvis.

I forgot to mention in my first post:
On my deadlift day I've recently started doing good mornings and leg press. I got into a bad habit of squatting and deadlifting with as little quad as possible, hence the recent emphasis on leg press. it allows me to focus on the muscles more and not the foot placement problems I've been having with the squat.

So the addition of good mornings are possibly overloading my back throughout the week. Like I said though, yesterday I did really shitty rounded spine deads and had to call it a day at the prescirbed reps yesterday. I strained my back pretty badly but no so much that I can't go to work etc. I even had a pretty good(if short) press workout today.

I'm thinking about moving away from the 5/3/1 for my deads for a bit. I got to my strongest deadlift about a year ago(depressingly) using simple linear progression every time I lifted. I might just go back to that for a while, aim for 5 reps like I used to.
I used to be such a good deadlifter, and now it's my weakest(comparatively) lift...


In total honesty, dude, I would definitely back off on some of the stuff you're doing right now. Take it from a guy who's had a history of ignoring "warning" signs for my lower back ... it will be something you'll regret later on.

Foam roll it a lot, take out the stuff that bothers it the most. Stat training your lower back in a friendlier way (machines, GHR type stuff) and then slowly transition back into it.

It's not glitzy or glamorous, but niether is having shit lifting sessions because you're only thinking about how much your lower back hurts. And it's also not as bad as not being able to work out at all.


Good mornings always make my back feel like shit, leg press will a lot of times as well (back rounding in leg press). Lately I've started throwing in a set on the back extension machine at the end of posterior chain workouts, it seems to let me really feel the squeeze in my erectors and makes my back feel like a million bucks.


Solid advice everyone, thanks.

In all honesty I think it's the rows that have been causing the most trouble. This won't be a problem for much longer as I'm going to go and buy a set of oly dumbbell handles and just keep them in my car/gym bag.

I've never had problems deadlifting before,(at least, not with such a sever rounded spine with a weight I can usually destroy).

Thanks every one, much appreciated...


If rows hurt your lower back you're doing something wrong. Your lumbar spine should be pretty solidly locked into a neutral position during a bent over row. Make sure to really sit back into it like a stiff legged dead lift when you're getting into position. Your glutes, hams and erectors should all be doing support duty, not just your low back.


Might take a video of my form of my row technique with lighter weights just for people to look over it and maybe give some tips...


If you can, video yourself using your working weight. Form will change as load increases. But yeah, do this and we can tell you where you're going wrong.


Will take a video tomorrow or wednesday. I'm taking a much needed deload week as I haven't taken one for three cycles and I went a bit overboard at the weekend(with alcohol and lack of sleep, not exercise). But one exercise at my working weight isn't going to kill me so I'll get back with one during the week


This is my first impression. BB rows have always fatigued my lower back. I have largely dropped them from my scheme because of the extra fatigue that builds up when I have them in + my regular heavy dead/squat work.

DB rows will work, in addition to getting your own db handles, I'm sure the gym you're at has a t-bar row. You might be able to put a bench by that and grip the t-bar for a simulated 1 arm row. You'll have to change the side the bench is on when you switch arms...It's not exact, but it's better than being limited to the pussy 30kg weights you gym thinks is sufficient. I've had to resort to this for a while now, my gym has the same problem only at a higher weight (130 lbs).


Also true. But to be fair, I got the feeling from his original post that it wasn't acute pain he was feeling so much as chronic fatigue and overwork. While I don't ever get acute pain from BB bent rows I do get a lot of fatigue, and as I said in my previous post I don't do them much anymore because of it. With the amount of pulling and squatting I do it's just plain overkill for me. And it's led me to bad places in the past (overwork).