Put Your Back In to It: Doing Deadlift Exercises For Strengthening Lower Back Muscles

One of the unsung heroes in athletic workouts, when in comes to strengthening lower back muscles, are the forgotten deadlift exercises. Although they may recall old school training to some, they should not be taken for granted.
Deadlift
photo courtesy of Phil Hirst

When I think of exercises that are used across the board by the majority of athletes as part of their training only a few come to mind. Of course there’s the typical bench press and squats, but the deadlift is always in their routine.

Basketball players, baseball players, football players, Olympic athletes all use this one exercise for conditioning and athleticism. Because this is a compound exercise and as such targets more than one muscle group and builds explosiveness the benefits are huge.

In my years of working out I can probably count with two hands the number of people I have seen doing this exercise at the gym. Why? The two most common excuses are, a) it looks to tough and b) I don’t want to hurt my back.

I won’t lie, deadlifts can be challenging but the rewards are great. The important thing to consider is to use a weight that is not too heavy and proper form is used.

For those who may have a concern that they might hurt their back the importance of form is big. However, as with any exercise always use proper form and you will greatly reduce the risk of injury.

For anyone who may have a concern with injuring the lower back my advice is to start working on those lower back muscles! The lack of lower back muscle development is the reason why these injuries in the first place. With this said, always start with very light weight and work your way up.

If you are focused on strengthening your lower back there is no better exercise than a deadlift. After a couple months of doing this exercise you will see the difference in the lower back and in your core. Remember that core exercises are important in avoiding lower back injuries.

There are various versions of the deadlift:

Romanian Deadlift
Stiff Legged Deadlift
Bent Knee Deadlift

I recommend the Bent Knee version since it will target your entire lower body (leg muscles) up to your core and lower back. The important things to remember when performing this exercise are:

1. Use a wider than shoulder width grip and keep the arms straight. Legs stance should also be shoulder width apart.
2. Do not round your back. Bend at the waist and keep the back flat. Always maintain your lower back firm.
3. Use the strength in your legs when lifting and push from the heels.
4. Do not look down when lifting, instead look straight ahead and keep your chest out.
5. Do not overarch your back when you come up to a standing position.
6. Do not use your lower back when pulling the weight.
7. Keep your abs tight when lifting.
8. Keep the bar/weight close to your body. The bar should be touching your shins when you start and touching your thighs when you come up.
9. Come down slowly and controlled motion as your hips bend first followed by the knees.

In the beginning perform 3 sets of 6 to eight repetitions. Move up to 4 sets after 4 weeks. Only do this series once a week preferably on legs day. Barbells or dumbbells can be used and you can switch it up but start by performing them with barbells.

If you perform this execise on a weekly basis get ready to see an overrall increase in body strength and a stronger lower back as well.

What Is The Best Way To Burn Belly Fat?

Are you feeling desperate and wondering what is the best way to burn belly fat without using some strange supplement? The answer is simple and it is not by doing a bunch of sit-ups.

You have definitely seen those infomercials promising six pack abs and a flat stomach by doing sit-ups on a funny piece of equipment. Contrary to what you have heard sit-ups and crunches will not do the trick.

In order to bring out that abs you first have to eliminate the fat percentage in your body. In order to reduce your fat content you have to do a couple of things. First thing to do is increase your metabolism. The second thing to do is clean up your diet.

The most effective way to increase your metabolism is by doing high intensity exercise. The first thing that comes to mind in order to burn fat is doing cardiovascular exercise. Although this is a good way it will take a while to burn the fat. In fact, in order to reduce fat substantially it would take an average of running 10 miles a day on average.

Most of us are not marathon type runners so this type of workout is not ideal. However, when cardio is paired with weight training or weight lifting your body becomes a fat burning inferno. Weight training burns more calories than doing cardio exercise alone and by gaining some muscle your metabolism will increase and burn fat.

The second thing to do is to clean up your diet. This is the hardest part for most people to achieve. Doing diets is one of the worst ways to try and get a lean body. When we restrict or reduce calories or skip meals our bodies slow down their metabolism and will hold on to more fat. Do this for days, weeks or months on end and you will stay soft and flabby.

My recommendation is to eat foods low in fat and low in sugar. By eating a balanced meal in carbs, proteins and small quantities of fat you will be one step ahead. However this is still hard for most people to do because of our busy schedules.

However, one simple adjustment can pay off big time. Think of one thing you eat or drink that is not healthy for you. Is it fries or chips or soda or maybe it is that chocolate bar you have daily. If you simply eliminate this one unhealthy item from your diet you will see the fat start to come off.

So if you are looking for the best way to burn belly fat just start by making one small adjustment in your eating habits and include a good weight training plan with 20- 30 minutes of cardio. In as little as a few weeks you will see a significant difference.

How To Build Muscles From Sprinting

When working out believe it or not there are ways how to build muscles from sprinting. In bodybuilding the common technique used to build muscle is by using weights to train our bodies consistently. However there is a different method there does not get mentioned very often in bodybuilding or in workout magazines.
Disappointing final sprint...
Photo courtesy of Stefanos

When we look at athletes, more specifically those who do short burst of running we can see a lean and muscular physique. For example look at an Olympic sprinter or a soccer player. These athletes are able to maintain a muscular physique despite running and doing high intensity cardio.

In bodybuilding cardio is often discouraged from a fitness regimen. Long periods of cardio like long distance running is counterintuitive in building muscle mass. However, short bursts of activity like running is the best way to burn fat and at the same time maintain muscle and even form new lean muscle. The use of short bursts of activity triggers testosterone that in return helps with muscle building.

One of the best ways to incorporate sprinting in a workout is by doing a two to one ratio, in other words a two-minute rest for every minute of running. This type of workout can be done on a treadmill or on a track.

· Sprint one: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint two: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint three: Run for one minute at 90 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint four: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint five: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed

Rest for two minutes and no longer than that between sprints. The total time should be 15 minutes. You can add two more sprints to this routine with a maximum speed of 80 percent on the sixth and 90 percent maximum speed on the last sprint. This routine should be performed two times a week with 48 to 72 hours between days of rest.

The effects of doing this type of workout will lead to fat burning without losing muscle mass and gaining mass in the lower body specifically. This type of workout will also create gains overall in muscle gain.