Back strength help

19 messages
03/08/2009 at 17:25
Hey, well after a disappointing London tri yesterday, I was wondering if anyone could recommend any good exercises to strengthen the back up. After the worst swim ever and not being able to put any power down or hold aero for too long on the bike, I know the back is the culprit.

I was thinking of heading into the gym and doing a combo of ham/glute and and back workouts. So i know all the general stuff, squats, deadlifts, lunges, lat pulldowns etc but was hoping some knowledgeable peeps might know of any tri specific exerices I might try to throw in the mix. Maybe some stuff for in the pool, on the bike or run seeing as I also dont want to be stuck in the gym for whats left of summer.


03/08/2009 at 17:30
Hi Bman,

I suspect that the problem probably lies in core stability in addition to the postoral back muscles - this means that you might want to think about focussing on the lower abs in particular rather than the upper ones which tend to get isolated with typical gym ab drills.

Is there any chance that you can get to a good pilates class? Preferably a studio where they will tailor your work out to the specific areas you want to work on - they should be able to give you mat exercises to do at home. If you can only get to a mat class then make sure that the class is small enough that the instructor can give you all individual help and make sure your technique is good.

I did two years of pilates and it was brilliant for my back but can't get it here so I'm doing Body Balance from the Les Mills stable and that seems to be maintaining it and if you took care over the technique would help.

Does that help?
03/08/2009 at 17:44
Hi Durhamvam, yeah ive been doing pilates and seeing a physio for the last few months, but the combo of injury due to inflexibility followed by stretching the whole area has left most of the core and back muscles a bit more flexible but generally weaker.

So Im thinking of making my own program that combines the lower intensity pilates moves for core as well as higher intensity stuff for the major groups. 2 birds and all that, you know? So hopefully I will return to original full strength with elevated core strength for an added bonus. Hopefully in time for next year.

03/08/2009 at 18:06
Broad Agreement. Theres not anything too specific for the lower back other than core work (at least, not without breaking it).

I really get a lot of using a swiss ball. With and without weights. There's all sorts of things you can do with that!

Running, cycling OK; but at swimming, I'm like a fish out of water.
03/08/2009 at 18:08
To risk derailing this thread - do you have a link to a good website or something Jack about swiss ball exercises - it's something I think I should get into!

BTW I'm going to buy that bike and see what happens....... arrrggghhh scary!
03/08/2009 at 18:12
I was just googling for something.

The missus has a lot of lower back problems, and has been to various different physiotherapists - both private and NHS, and the most effective (mainly because you can do them at home) have been with the swiss ball.

Anyway, I found this Can't vouch for the site, but the exercises look quite similar to the ones I know.

I've always had good lower back strength (i.e. never any problems), and am pretty confident that a varied range of exercises target it - but want to be a bit careful about what I say here because what I do might be harder for people with back issues. And it is such a common injury that launching into something new needs to be treated with caution!

Running, cycling OK; but at swimming, I'm like a fish out of water.
03/08/2009 at 18:16
Thanks Jack - I've done some of those but need some reminding/inspiration to go out and buy one. I'll take care with the back - I know now what hits it, not that that seems to stop me running though!
03/08/2009 at 20:14
I suffered from a weak back once i lost all my weight towards the end of last season..

Over winter I stuck an extra weights session into my week to focus on the back....

This is what I did and I now have a back and abs that can hold the aero position whilst pedalling without resting on my arms:) so the entire strain is being controlled by the back and deep stabilizing muscles.

5 x 8 reps on each @90% 1Rep Max
Lat Pull Down
Seated Row
Wide Arm Outer Grip Pull Ups (body weight eventually)

Starting with just the Olympic Bar... same reps.... then building up weight each week.

Deadlift - up to 60kgs
Clean - upto 20kgs
Clean & Press - upto 20kgs

These are all plus the weight of the Olympic bar

Then a core workout, I could list a load of exercises but without being able to demo them youll not have a clue what they are.... so any core workout yo can find should be fine.
04/08/2009 at 09:51

I use a combination on body weight exercises Wide grip chin ups, dips, under grip chins and press ups. I use these in different set combos, 5 sets of 10 reps or 10 sets of 5 reps.

Also using Kettlebells for core strength and also focusing on individual muscles including back eg. low rows, hyper extentions and dead lifts.

most of the basic exercises with the kettlebell work the whole body.

go for a 12kg if you're starting out get good technique then move up weight once technique is good.

good luck building back stength.
04/08/2009 at 11:31
Cheers for that guys, I'll give both of those routines a go and see how it goes.

04/08/2009 at 12:18
Most exercises that don't involve sitting on or in a machine work the 'core' & other ancilliary muscles, otherwise we would all fold up in the middle.
Tri specific...? Personally the superman, puts you in a horizontal 'bike or swim'position & lifting arms a legs forces the back & abs to engage, can be progressed in difficulty by moving legs & arms around (slowly & under control) &/or coming off knees onto toes & of course holding for longer.
like wise stability ball roll outs either from knees on floor elbows on ball & roll forward &/or feet on ball & roll forwards, either back & forth or jack knifing..or both.
I will try to find links to illustrate..

Of course I can eat that....I am an athlete.
04/08/2009 at 12:26

Starting point....move on to same but on all fours..hands & knees.

Not get the idea.

Of course I can eat that....I am an athlete.
04/08/2009 at 12:38
It's even more fun done on top of a swiss ball. That really engages the muscles. It's something I've been doing for swimming...

Running, cycling OK; but at swimming, I'm like a fish out of water.
04/08/2009 at 14:59
We have quite a good machine at the fitness first near work that i use once or twice a week, you can really feel it on the upper thigh but also the lower back. this along with pull up's seems a good work out for me but I've not really got myself properly into the aero position so maybe more work to do yet.

This is the diagram from the manufacturers website (no really), the green legs indicate finishing position and the red straight legs are starting position.
04/08/2009 at 15:15
Come on saltbar, you did that drawing using microsoft paint... That is hilarious!

All the fear, no idea.
04/08/2009 at 15:20
Thats a brilliant picture. I dont really like that exercise or the hanginging equivalent, my arms and shoulders get sore before anything else and it doesnt engage all the stabilisers. Back at uni I came up with a solution, never did anything about it, then years later, the ab sling was brought out. Its exactly what I had come up with! But im not sour about it...£%&$*! ... sling-.jpg

Britspin, I was wondering what the superman was. Im doing that one so glad to know its recommended.

04/08/2009 at 15:21
I like the expression on his face, as if its all so damn easy. Are you sure those green things are his legs?

04/08/2009 at 16:16
I can't work out if the green one or the red one is Comanightrain. Either way, it looks like a self portrait.

Running, cycling OK; but at swimming, I'm like a fish out of water.
04/08/2009 at 18:22
Diagram is quality!

10/10 for communication!
Your say
email image