It occurred to me this week that perhaps the WHY behind the lower back being such a common problem is because it’s so central to the body. It shows us how much ELSE may be out.
With a body exercised for ABILITY — in balance across its parts — the lower back won’t have so many problems.
That’s the theory, anyway.
Let’s look at the first of 3 main sections of this philosophy. Each of these sections breaks up into 3 sub-sections, for a total of 9 lower back “opportunities.”
And good news: All 9 of these zones can be trained with ZERO equipment.
Zone 1: The neck is way up above the lower back, but it’s a common weak point in modern trainees. In fact, it can be shocking how weak the neck has become.
I believe a neck should be able to support the body with its strength, as shown on the left side of the picture below. But as you can see on the right side, you could start right now with just a pad or towel. I could NOT do the bench version when I started:
Standing closer to the wall makes it easier.
Standing farther makes it harder.
Perform 5 reps with a 5-second hold on each rep.
To start, do only 1 set to ensure you don’t have too much muscle soreness in the following days. Since some people have never exercised these muscles, the soreness can be quite surprising, almost like when you’re new to strength training.
Zone 2: As we move down from the neck — but still above the lower back itself — we find that the middle portion of the spine is too stiff in the average person.
On the right, we have a beautiful way to do this from home, and on the left we have a more advanced gym version:
For each version perform 5 reps with a 5-second stretch on each rep. The closer you stand to the wall, the easier it is, and the farther you stand, the harder it is.
This exercise category not only stretches you out in a way that can provide back relief, it also makes you STRONGER in that position. This seems to create more mobility improvement over time.
Interestingly, I recall researching a few years ago and finding two different studies, each supporting the back’s ability to arch or round in relation to less lower back pain. In either case: more ABILITY = less pain!
In our new Back Ability Zero program, we “superset” (alternate back and forth) Zone 2 above, with the next exercise…
Zone 3: Now we get into the muscles that control your mid-spine posture. These muscles are just above your lower back!
This can be done from a chair, or from a back extension. For demonstration, I’m using dumbbells, but you can absolutely start with no weight:
Start with arms bent. Then press into the top position. Now slowly fight down for 5 seconds! Repeat for 5 total reps.
Now go back to Zone 2, then again Zone 3, resulting in 2 sets of each.
Let me know how you feel afterward.
These are the first 3 of 9 zones which have consistently helped ATG members achieve less back pain and more back ABILITY.
You can see the full formula on the app right next to Knee Ability Zero:
Huge thanks to ATG Coaches Grace Borden, Brendan Backstrom, and Fernando Lopez for joining me at HQ this week just to focus on the back. Our work together helped lead to these breakthroughs in understanding the lower back.
Grace runs our @womenofatg Instagram page.
Fernando runs our ATG Shred Program and our Shoulder Ability Protocol.
I’ll return next week with Part 2.
Yours in Solutions,