Friday, April 23, 2010

Doug McGuff on Lower Back Training

A couple of videos from Dr Doug McGuff, on how to train the lower back:

First the physiology:

then the exercises:

hat tip


BOLT FIT said...

Thanks for all the great information on lower back exercises and dead lifting techniques recently.

In the intro of the first video Doug said that they perform these exercises, when should these types of exercises be used? Will performing deadlifts and swings adequately develop these more intrinsic muscles of the low back?

I've been recovering from some lower back injuries from pushing too hard on kettlebell swings while still developing my form. I'd like to not do this too often (obviously), and I wonder about the best way to structure lower back exercises to avoid injury.

Doug McGuff, MD said...

@Bolt Fit,

The deep lumbar muscles tend to fatigue considerably and have a long recovery phase. We perform direct lumbar work no more often than every 14 days. 14-28 day intervals are fine.

I would not suggest using any skill-based activity (such as kettlebells or Oly lifts) in a fatiguing/conditioning fashion. When form breaks down, injury is much more likely.

This is particularly true for the low back area. As the more superficial muscles fatigue, there can be a sudden shift of load onto the deeper muscles which are smaller and weaker. If you are a kettle bell enthusiast injury is not a matter of if, but when. For those who claim to have never been injured, read Nassim Taleb's story of the Thanksgiving Turkey (get used to being petted and fed for 364 days, then get your head cut off on day 365).

I know this will make a lot of folks mad, but that is my take.

Doug McGuff

BOLT FIT said...

@ Doug McGuff,

Thanks for the response! Your analysis of when injury is likely to occur *feels* right to me, as I typically experience injury when I am near fatigue and my form breaks down.

Thanks, I definitely plan on taking your exercises and recommendations into account in my fitness program.


John Logan said...

My experience of being a "kettlebell turkey" was that my first injury was a painful lower back one, which recovered after a week of rest. Unfortunately, I did not take that warning seriously enough, so after 9 months of training I also received a broken forearm which required surgery, a steel plate and 6 screws to repair (I use that word "repair" loosely, it is only a repair in the way the current economic climate can be classed as a "recovery".)
To put that in context, I had trained with weights and other modalities for 24 years by then, and I had also trained others, without myself or anyone else EVER being injured. Only the kettlebell ever injured me. The link above contains comments after the main article which give more detail on this. The last comment on that page references Dr Doug McGuff, which is how I came upon this website.
John Logan

Chris said...

John (Logan) can you send me an email please?

chris @

I think your experience would make a good guest post for the blog.

cialis online said...

Perfect advices, I'm gonna follow those steps because sometimes I do my exercises in the wrong way, thanks for the second video because now I do my exercises better.m10m

Tyciol said...

I always thought it would be cool to work the lower back with pulldowns via hip extension instead of spinal hyperextension. Glad to see support.