10 March 2011

Ask the Asshole #9- Your Obsession With Lower Backs Is Weird

It's been a while since I posted one of these, and I thought you guys might like a break from all of the talk about running.  The next installment in that series is written, but I wanted to break it up because this blog isn't all about running, if you hadn't noticed.  In any event, I've gotten a bunch of questions about deadlifting and its effect on the lower back, in addition to a few others from which I thought you guys might benefit, so enjoy.

Q: "I just wanted to know what you thought of all those articles about how deadlifts can hurt your lower back in the long run. I can't believe this after reading your blog, but do you think there is any truth in the fact that deadlifts fuck up your back?"

Interesting question that will have a fairly qualified answer.  Do I think I could ever fuck up my lower back deadlifting?  Not a fucking chance in hell.  Of all of the injuries I might one day suffer, lower back problems are about as likely as me wearing short shorts and those godawful Crossfit socks.   The reason for this is that I train insanely heavy constantly, and I never, ever wear a belt.  This means that my lower back has strengthened itself to accommodate the poundages I lift, and has grown even stronger with the ultra-heavy partials I do.  I could take a gunshot from a small caliber firearm in the spinal erectors and walk away laughing.
With an ass like that, I could forgive the socks.  I think.

For the average weekend warrior fuckface who sits on padded machines fucking around for a half hour in the gym a couple of times a week?  He's damn near guaranteed to fuck his back up completely.  The reason for this is that he's a terrible decision maker and has a job that involves sitting.  Likewise for the chicks with office jobs who go to the gym and run on the treadmill all day long.  There's a reason why both of those populations are stoop-shoulders and bereft off asses- they have shitty posture when sitting and standing, which overstretches their lower backs and tightens their hip flexors, and they sit all fucking day long.  They take the elevator up a couple of flights of stairs instead of walking up them like anyone with a modicum of fucking pride or interest in maintaining a body anyone on Earth wants to see naked.  That shit drives me directly up the fucking wall and makes me want to line those fat fucks up against said wall and hose them down with a bit of lead, and then put them through a wood chipper so as to make their corpses easier for wild pigs to eat.  Anyway, they then exacerbate this condition by going to the gym for more sitting, and then doing cardio on a machine that pulls their feet back for them, taking their posterior chain out of the equation, tightening their hip flexors further, and exponentially increasing the chances of a lower back catastrophe.  To make matters even worse, it's always those fucking retards who spend 30 minutes a day doing abs, as though exercising that bodypart will turn them into modern-day Dumbledores who can magically melt off their beer gut with some fantastical incantation and make them look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.  They'll hurt themselves deadlifting, on the off-chance they ever try to, because they're fucking retarded.
Therefore, your question's pretty much akin to asking "Hey, I've read a lot of articles that say that blind people will turn themselves into a fucking street pizza if they ride motorcycles.  What do you think about riding motorcycles?"  I think any blind person dumb enough to try to pilot a motorcycle deserves to die, and I'll laugh my fucking ass off when weekend warriors in the gym hurt themselves deadlifting.  Does that answer your question?  In essence- if you are awesome, you will not hurt your lower back, as being awesome confers invulnerability to lower back issues.  If you suck at life and have given up on appearing human anyway, you're guaranteed to hurt your lower back deadlifting and deserve to be mocked as you roll by on your Rascal thereafter.

Q: "You round your back while deadlifting!  I heard that this causes paralysis/AIDS/ebola/ugliness/or possibly infertility.  Why would you do this?"

First, see the above answer.  Second, round back lifting is actually pretty natural, and most big pullers round their backs on maximum efforts anyways.  Benni and Bolton both round their backs, for instance.  Should you aim to have a round back?  Probably not.  Generally speaking, you should arch your back to put yourself in a more mechanically advantageous position whenever possible, and because there's no reason to actively taunt fate.
Brooks Kubik, however, has a different take.  In Dinosaur Training, for instance, he had the following to say about lifting with a round back:
backlifting with a barbell. It is this type of lifting that truly develops a strong back...” Jesse's insight is a keen one. To prove its validity, all you have to do is spend a couple of months using heavy sandbags and heavy barrels as a regular part of your heavy training. You will find that the bags and barrels substantially increase your back strength, with a resulting carry-over to all conventional barbell movements and all athletic endeavors. If you are an athlete - particularly a wrestler or football player - round back lifting will build your back in exactly the manner it needs to be developed to battle a human opponent on the mat or on the playing field.  (Kubik, 99)
Thus, according to Brooks, you quite literally cannot get super-strong without lifting with a round back.  I will give him this- it's fucking impossible to pick up oddly shaped objects with a flat back, and all stone lifters have huge backs and lift rounded ever fucking time.  Food for thought.

Q: "How did your back feel while you were deadlifting in competition? Does the pain come up right away? What kind of rehab have you done for it by the way? When you do squats, do you ever feel similar back pain/cramping?"

A: First, to clarify, I have no lower back issues.  The cramping to which this question refers occurs in my upper back, and is (insofar as I can tell) due to my penchant for using my upper back and traps on everything I do in the gym.  I had no cramping in the competition at all.  Cramping usually occurs for me due to lack of massage and a lot of near-max singles on deadlifts.  As for rehab, I covered it in this blog, but I essentially took a shitload of hot baths (as I had no access to a hot tub) and ground out all of my knots with a Theracane.  It was ridiculously painful, but it helped a lot.  I'd basically just sit on the couch and watch a movie while using the theracane the entire time.  It'd leave me bruised, but it got the knots out.

I never feel the cramping on back squats, but I will on front squats if I do them the day after deadlifting.  To my knowledge, this problem is fairly unique to me, but it's possible that others on Earth might have that happen from time to time.  Mine started occurring because I spent the better part of a year doing a once a week workout of deadlifts to max, rack deads to max, suitcase deads to max, and two finger deads to max, followed by shrugs, and did this until I was quite literally crippled.  It was fucking stupid.  Fun, but stupid.

Q: "After seeing you list the push/press in your top-five lifts, and me trying them, I have since wondered why so many "professional coaches/trainers" don't put more (any?) emphasis on them."

That's a damn good question.  I assume you're referring to the behind the neck push press, which I know for a fact Olympic lifters use on a regular basis.  I'd imagine they do it to insulate themselves from a lawsuit.  I don't bother with that bullshit, however, because I'm not rich enough to sue and I'd happily cut the throat of any idiot who felt like sending me a summons.  Mariusz does them, which got me doing them, and I love them and saw my shoulders grow by leaps and bounds, so I recommend them to you people.

Q: "Practically all of the test boosters you've recommended are off the market.  What the fuck?"

Blame the government.  They've started targeting all of the supplement companies that had been making grey-market supplements and raiding them, in addition to raiding stores that sold them.  Why?  They've managed to get their limp dicks hard over the idea of stripping you of one more way to combat the the festival of estrogens they've happily prepared for you (for a bit on that, go here, and here)  Why would they do this?  Probably because having more testosterone in your body would make it far harder for you to control, due to the fact that you'd be more physically powerful, less apt to take direction, and less physically intimidated by law enforcement agents.  Yeah, yeah, make all of the comments you want about tinfoil hats- there's no other plausible explanation for removing these products from the market.  In any event, most of the shit out there was based on Balco's products, and the M-Drol clones and other awesome test boosters are now a thing of the past.
Shit worked for Barry.

Methyl Mass, which was formerly fucking amazing, is now a big bag of bullshit.  They've reformulated it to include an anti-cortisol agent and an anti-estrogen, which while better than nothing isn't worth spending any considerable amount of money.  This saddens me, as I fell in love with that stuff a couple of years ago and was looking forward to grabbing some more until I noticed the change in formula.

Someone mentioned T-Bomb-II as being the purported shit to me the other day, but a quick glance at that shows that it's nothing more than the Tribulus/Longjax stack that I recommended a while back, only with less potency.  As such, I just recommend taking 4 grams of Tribulus and any kitchen sink test supplement, and you should be good to go, at least for having sick hardons and blowing big loads.  Frankly, I've never been enamored with MHP, as they push soy to men, and this product is pretty expensive for what you get.  Given that you can get far more awesome out of less money (~$42 for T-Bomb vs ~$38 for the stack I recommended).  Girls, I've got nothing for you- I think all of the Tren knockoffs are off the market as well.

Q: "I can't figure out why my lifts are stalling.  My diet's perfect and I'm killing it in the gym.  The only thing is, I don't think I'm getting as much sleep as I should.  What do you think?"

I've blogged at some length about the importance of sleep, but for some reason, you guys think it's optional.  It's not.  Sleep is one of the keystones of training success, and you'll ignore it at your ultimate fucking peril. According to Rob Faigin, "sleep is particularly important to athletes and others engaged in physical training because it helps stave-off overtraining syndrome, marked by elevated cortisol levels.  The same volume of exercise that will produce and overtrained state in a sleep-deprived athlete might not in a well-rested athlete.  Athlete or not, adequate nighttime sleep is vital to optimizing hormone levels."(Faigin, 200)  Paul Chek agrees completely, and states that the body's physical repair occurs, no matter what time you go to sleep, between 10PM and 2AM, due to your body's natural circadian rhythms and the affect of daylight.  As such, if you go to bed at 12AM, you've already missed 2 hours of physical repair.(Chek 203)  That's fucking retarded if your goal is to gain muscle.  From everything I've read, the average person (i.e. completely detrained sack of dogshit) requires 7-8 hours of sleep, while people in the paleolithic slept considerably more.  If you're training hard, wouldn't you think you'd tend toward the paleolithic requirement than the Doritos eater?  I thought so.  Fuck Edison and get the fuck off your Facebook.  Sleep more and you'll lift more, guaranteed.
There might not be any reason to post this pic, but there's no reason not to, either.

Q: "When are you going to post more vids?"

Soon.  Very soon.  I generally dislike bringing a camera to the gym, which I realize runs counter to the trend of putting every single one of a person's workouts online for no particular reason, but I've got a couple of new exercises to show you guys and a Gorillapod to test out.

Facebook less.  Lift more.  That is all.

Chek, Paul.  How To Eat, Move, And Be Healthy.  2004.
Faigin, Rob.  Natural Hormonal Enhancement.  2000.


  1. Cool article, I miss Jamie's more personal/anecdotal, less academic writing...

    I work 12 hour days 5 days a week where i have to literally sit the entire time, and after a couple years I think it's really fucked things up, my job is badass (i edit porn and cartoons) and I don't want to leave it, is there much I can do to reduce the problems it causes? more foam rolling, dynamic stretches? meh...

  2. Hello Jamie, i Fuckin really enjoy your Blog Chaos and Pain Dude,Fully, my Favourite lifter is John Grimek But i think all the oldschool lifts and heavy lift basically all strength and speed and conditioning is awesome.
    Been really enjoying clean and jerks, stone loading ,walking with a heavy yoke, heavy farmers walks pressing a log overhead, over head locckouts in the rack like you recommend and heavy Shrugs, plus a whole bunch more lifts, i got a 418 deadlift plenty of times,tried 440 missed it then two days later did trap bar deadlift and worked up i never wear a belt, hit a 539 trap bar deadlift and halfway up heard a pop/crack/crick- something in my lower back, got massive pain in my lower left back for about a week, i was so fuccking pissed off, 11 days later i pulled a 6 tonnes truck around for a while- no pain, but on other basic lifts i still fell weird pain, hoping for a full recovery so i can continue to destroy shit and fuck its brain like you do, Whats your take n my situation??
    Please reply thank you , Gregory

  3. Nice entry!!! I second Slowfuse's question. I've been studying a lot and it seems to be just the begining, as the MA starts to roll. Basically, I'm going to spend most of the time sitting on my ass while reading shit. What can I do to avoid/reduce the problems linked with this academic lifestyle? I won't even have much time to go to the gym... I'm building a super sturdy and badass home gym consisting of a pullup bar, a dip station, squat rack, a barbell, heavy bumper plates and 40kg dumbells.

  4. Jamie, any experience with D Aspartic Acid?

    A few people I trust say it's legit, and Marc Bartley has gotten lots of good feedback on it from his customers.

  5. What do you think of weed, seeing as it's good for you but forbidden? You'd think the government would be pushing it like crazy if they really want us to be lazy amoebas, because that's what smoking grass turns you into haha.

    Oh btw, I saw this guy put heated glasses on a girl's back once to take the knots out of it, because when the glasses cool down they kind of contract and pull on the back muscles. She had some wicked bruises afterwards too. You might want to try that, apparently it works really well.

  6. Thanks for pointing out that most people will destroy their backs more from inaction than from action.

    I fucked up my lower back a few weeks ago so badly that the Chiro thought I had scholiosis. Nah, I just sat in an airplanes and cars for 9 hours straight.

  7. I'm a project manager for a software company.

    @brainwash- I've heard about cupping in spas. Never tried it. It definitely seems interesting however. As I recall, that's an old-school Chinese recuperative/restorative technique.

    In re weed- have you noticed it's getting decriminalized all over the place? Not exactly legalized, but it's headed in that direction, all while test boosters are getting stores raided and cops are shutting down UGLs left and right. Hmmmmmm...

    @Tony- Never tried it, but it's on my list of things to do.

    @Krumel and slowfuse- I'm working on a lengthy blog on that issue.

    @greg- I've no real idea what's wrong with your back. Whenever shit like that happens to me, I play it by ear and test it periodically.

  8. That last pic... The one on the left would get it.

  9. I've been using a belt lately on deadlifts. Really helps get the last reps in without form going to absolute shit. I follow up with straight leg deads and my lower back is great.

  10. Do you also go belt-less on squats?

    Excellent article.

    I dead lift 600 ponds no belt. Never get lower back pain. I have worn a belt squatting over 500. It helps to keep me from leaning forward too far, but I don't feel the need to for it to be able to lift the weight.

  11. Chaos, the reason they removed testo boosters is most likely because they were freaking worthless. Plenty of them had no anabol impact at all, and the ones that did were so marginal that it didn't matter. Increasing testo levels with 50% might seem good, but it's nothing, especially compared to people who inject testo and have testo levels that are several thousand percent above normal values.

  12. That was a great article. And what the hell ever happened to Mick Holding? (Guy lifting atlas stone)

  13. C&P, where is your email address? Your blog is sweet. Good to see someone who actually has something to say, and says it. Keep up the good work.

  14. Two more things... What the hell is a test level? You are obsessed with people having good test levels but I don't see where you say what this is.

    Also, I have had PT's do "cupping" on me before. One time it helped a lot with some low back pain, but other times with more chronic pains it was pretty useless.

  15. Test level = testosterone level.

  16. chaos_and_pain@yahoo.com

    @FinalSQL- yeah. Someone stole my level belt from SC Barbell and I never replaced it.

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