The Ultimate Rules For A Workout That Is Safe For Your Back

The latissimus dorsi, by its vastness and amplitude, is surely one of the most impressive muscles of the human body, determined in each of us by genetics. The skeletal system determines the amplitude of this muscle, given the ratio between the bisacromial axis and the bisylic acid of 2 to 1, the shoulder width should be superior to that of the waist and the thickness represented by the volume capacity of the chest. Another important factor determining hypertrophy is the type of fibers that make up the muscle itself.

latissimus dorsi muscle

A quick revision of back muscles

Before talking about the primary exercises for the development of the great backbone, let’s revise some anatomy, explain where this muscle is located and its function in our body. The latissimus dorsi muscle is a muscle that originates on the spine for a long stretch that goes from the spinous processes of the sixth and seventh spine to the back of the lumbar spine and the iliac ridge. Proximal insertion, on the other hand, is located on the small tubercle at the head of the humerus, sometimes the fibers of the ridge are also inserted on the scapula. The function of this muscle is to induce and intrarotate the arm to the trunk; if instead the fixed point is the arm will be the trunk to approach (as in traction exercises).

The dorsal muscle works in synergy with other muscles, among the most important are the trapezium, stretched between the column and the spatula of the scapula, whose contraction involves the scapula approaching the spine. Other auxiliary muscles are the spinal deltoid, commonly called the back deltoid, the teres major muscle, and the brachial biceps.

The basics of a safe workout

Always warm up first. Jog 5 to 10 minutes on a treadmill, or spend a few minutes on a step-by-step or elliptical trainer. Develop a stretching routine for the neck, shoulders, lower back, hips and quadriceps muscles. Then make a couple of lifting sets that use from 50 to 60 percent of exercise weight that will get your shoulders, lower back and quads started. Do not hold your breath — instead, focus on breathing out — when pushing against a weight, and never do an exercise if you feel stunned.

The-basics-of-a-safe-workoutAlways use the correct form for each lift. Practice the correct shape with a low weight until you have it engraved firmly in your muscle memory. There are some general rules that apply to most exercises. Keep your back straight, especially on bench presses and any exercise when flexing your sides. Never move a joint beyond what is convenient; get off at a lower weight or firing exercise for a while until the pain disappears. To push the muscle through its full range of movement, it is necessary to extend the exercise until the joints are straight, but control the elevator all the way — do not force the joints, especially the elbows and knees, into one block position. When using both arms or legs to lift a weight, they do not allow the bar to move away from the parallel to the floor. Keep your head still and your neck under control for all exercises. Bottom line: do not cheat on the technique so you can lift heavier weights.

The ultimate way to avoid back pain is to ensure that your warming up routine is done correctly. A great way to do so is to incorporate stretching in the warm-up part of the workout. Weight lifting and stretching go hand in hand because they both stretch gradually and smoothly the muscles before and after lifting weights. Advantages include greater flexibility, fewer injuries, more coordination, better circulation and less stress on the body.

Lower leg stretch for weight lifting

  1. Keep your hands on your hips and stands. Keep your balance, if necessary, using a wall.
  2. Rotate a foot so the top rests on the ground.
  3. Slowly exhale, as you lift your ankle and hold your foot down.
  4. Repeat the same stroke on the other foot.

Stretch the lower part of the bust for weight lifting

  1. Locate a chin up bar at head height.
  2. Handle the chin up bar and tighten both hands for a hold up with both hands almost touched.
  3. Exhale by keeping your arms straight.
  4. Bend the body, arching your back toward the front with the chin above the bar.

Lower-leg-stretch-for-weight-liftingUpper back stretch for weight lifting

  1. Rest with your knees on the floor, and then rest your hands on the floor.
  2. Align your arms in front of the floor.
  3. Lower your chest to the floor.
  4. Exhale and stretch your shoulders out to your hands.
  5. Lower your arms gradually to the ground and press slowly to bend your back.

Stretch shoulders for weight lifting

  1. Place the body in a push-up position.
  2. Keep your arms as wide as possible.
  3. Slowly lower your chest until you are almost touching the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position.

To deepen your understanding on how to deal with the back pain, please check out this extensive article containing the most effective home remedies for back pain approved by leading orthopedists:


Tips and warnings

Remember when stretching, you should perform slow and controlled movements without rebound or pain. Try not to confront others when stretching. The key is to relax and breathe slowly while stretching the more your body can. The flexibility of each is different. Keep the stretch only if you feel good. The same stretch works on any bar in a weighing machine. This stretched muscle needs enough strength to support your body. Do not hold your breath when stretched; breathe freely.

Full-body stretch training that is safe for your back


Squat, in its variants of execution, is a closed, multi-articulated and complex kinetic chain exercise, which permits the lifting of consistent loads, but is potentially harmful and dangerous if malfunctioned. Therefore, the execution technique and any customized adaptations of the same are essential to avoid injuries. When performing the squat, the three lower extremities of the legs, hip, knee and ankle, come into play. The spine or rachis remains in the frontal plane and extends on the sagittal plane with a lumbar lumbar laryngeal serpentine and anoscopic pelvis throughout the arc of the movement, both in eccentric and concentric phase. Therefore, the hubs of the movement between the rachis-pelvis and the femoral unit are the hips. In a word, the flex and extension of the bust should be on the hips and not on the back. Also, knees and ankles flex and extend concurrently in order to maintain a overall size such that the weight remains centered along the axis of the center of gravity. This is because the squat is a movement in unstable equilibrium with the mass center that does not have to move from ‘above’ the feet.

Full-body-stretch-training-that-is-safe-for-your-back-SquatWe now analyze each single level starting from the bottom:

1) Ankle and foot:

In case of a normal foot with good dorsal flexion of the ankle, there is no particular indication and it is great to work on bare feet to maximize the perception.

In case of a limited ankle dorsal flexion, which is not correctable for structural reasons (e.g. hollow foot or rigid ankle), it is useful to take a small raise under the heel (e.g. a specific shoe or tablet) to compensate for this deficit. It would affect other upstream articulations, dissipating the overall asset, especially if you want to look at the full squat. This happens because, with a limited dorsal flexion of the ankle, the compensation occurs by flexing the bust more forward, resulting in overloading the lumbosacral spine. Also, if you want to try a full squat, this would be impossible to do since you could not move your knee forward losing the backward balance, from which the tendency to stand on your toes. The height of the elevation under the heels can generally vary from 2 to 4 cm, and in any case it will be bigger as the ankle flexion and backbone is limited and the more you want to get off with your seat.

In case of flat foot (overpronation) a little heel raise will not hurt, not because there is a limited ankle flexion but to correct the overpronation under the load of the foot (not by chance the shoes have almost always raise the heels a little, because in this way in case of flat or pes cavis, also called ‘high instep’, a compensation is created).

So, in conclusion, should your raise your heels while performing a squat? The answer is no, in case of normal feet with good ankle flexion. And the answer is yes, in case of limited and structured (non-correctable) ankle flexion / backbone (e.g. high instep or rigid ankle). And it may be useful, but not indispensable, in case of a flat foot (you have to evaluate the overall layout)

However, in general in all those cases where a non-correctable ankle flexion-backbone deficiency is observed, which alters the overall squat structure, especially if you want to get full squats, it is useful to raise the heels and check whether this causes a total or partial correction. Also by working out barefoot, with or without raising the heel, as the case may be, the maximum perception is obtained.

2) Knee and femur:

In case of a healthy knee (i.e. a knee in the axle, stable from capsular-legillary point of view, with good rolling hiking and no meniscal and osteochondral injuries) there is no problem in making a squat under the parallel until the full squat. Another parameter to consider is the length of the femur in relation to the height: ‘long’ and ‘short’ femur.

The considerations to be observed are:

  • A slow progression towards full squat and load increments in order to achieve a gradual adaptation of all structures.
  • Do not go back or bounce or fast from and to the maximum to avoid meniscal torsional injuries.

The foot direction should follow that of the knee, that is, the foot with respect to the knee should not be rotated intra or extra; So the toes of the feet, like the rolls, are turned outward in proportion to the degree of abduction of the hips (the femurs from above form a ‘V’).

Knee-and-femurIf you perform a squat up to the parallel, then with a knee flexion of about 90 degrees-100 degrees, then the knee should not exceed the perpendicular passage through the toe. However, this is not a fixed rule and depends on the length of the femurs in relation to the stature and degree of abduction of the thighs. In general a ‘short’ femur allows to stay with the knee within the projection of the foot, while a ‘long’ femur doesn’t, otherwise it should bend too much forward the bust overloading the lumbosacral spine, which should be definitely avoided. It is normally only taller people who have femur proportionally longer in relation to stature and length of the torso. In case of ‘long’ femurs, it may be useful to increase abduction by enlarging the distance between the feet (open the ‘V’). So doing it is as if we had ‘shortened’ the femur in sagittal projection.

If you want to go down to full squat, your knee can move beyond the foot projection enough to maintain a stable overall shape that avoids having to bend too far forward and thus generate exaggerated cutting forces at the level of lumbosacral rachis. This is needed to achieve optimal alignment with a good distribution of spine load.

At this point we should make an important biomechanical consideration of the forces acting on the femoral-genual joints:

The femoral-genual pressure increases as the knee flexion increases, reaching its maximum at about 80-90-100 degrees of bending, then decreasing, continuing with the bending. This pressure is greater in the downhill phase than in the ascending phase. Since even parallel squat reaches 100 degrees of flexion of the knee, theoretically there would be no difference in terms of femoral-genual stress between parallel and full squats, since both reach the same critical degrees of flexion of the knee in which femoral-genual pressure is maximum. The femoral-genual stress will therefore only depend on the extent of the external load. So if we decide to do a full squat, reducing the external load, we will definitely strain the femoral-genual than a squat that stops at the parallel but executed with a larger external load. Usually full squats use smaller external loads for better control, so full squat might even be protective!

Now we can make a reflection on the rule of not pushing your knees beyond the level of the feet during squats. Let’s say immediately that this is not a rule, but a myth to be discarded.

If you decide, for a variety of case-specific reasons, to do or perform a shallow squat with the knee flexion that does not exceed 70-80 degrees, in order to reduce femoral-genual stress, then advancing with the knees beyond the upward projection of the feet would result in a knee flexion of the upper 80 degrees pre-set with increased femoral-genual stress, thus failing the target.

If you want to do or perform a squat up to the parallel or in full-squat (knee flexion well over 80 degrees), the knee advancement degree beyond the foot projection depends solely on the overall set. Limiting the advancement of the knee would, in order to maintain the balance, only increase the flexion of the bust on the hips, thus resulting in increased stress on the lumbosacral spine with equal external load.

In case of a pathologic knee (e.g. presence of meniscal degenerative lesions or menexectomy from previous acute lesion, injected lesion of the anterior and / or posterior cruciate ligament with anterior-posterior instability, knee valgus with low patella (kneecap) and excessive pressure on the external patella or valgus with a high patella and a tendency for external subluxation, vascular instability from previous collateral ligament injury, femoral-genual syndrome or instability etc.). Squatting may have problems that could become full squats. In particular, regarding femoral-genual syndrome and instability (much more frequent in women due to their greater Q angle) there are a lot of works, studies and books because it is defined by several factors related to the knee (e.g. femoral dislocation, lateralized tibial tuberosity, oblique wide medial insufficiency, laxity of medial crown ligaments, etc.) as well as those related to the knee and ankle (e.g. femoral neck or muscular imbalance that causes internal rotation and femoral adduction or hyperpronation of the sublayer, all factors which ultimately increase the Q angle and the outer circular stress). In these cases, it is necessary to solve the problem that is at the root of femoral-genual syndrome or instability, otherwise it will counteract in time to an inflammation and premature femoral-genual arthrosis.

In general, it is good practice, in case of known knee pathologies, to evaluate case by case the possibility of performing squatting with overload and if so with any case-specific considerations.

3) Hip:

Let’s say that not all the hips can flex well to extreme degrees for morphological bone motifs that determine the biomechanical pathology known as Femoral Accetabular Impingement or FAI.

hip-Femoral-Accetabular-ImpingementThe frontal FAI, which restricts hip flexion, can originate in the coagulant, pincer form, which may be deeper (profound coxa and protrusio acetabuli) or retroversal (hence with more frontal margin), or originate in the proximal femur, cam form, bound to an abnormal head-neck junction morphology with reduction of head-neck off-set for the presence of a superior bone bump with decreased head-neck offset (the worst form is the pistol grip) and / or case of coxa var and / or retroverse. There are also mixed pincer / cam forms. These anomalies or anatomical variants are more frequent than they are thought to be and are responsible for the development of early coxarthrosis (early osteoarthritis) especially in those who practice a sport that uses a lot of hips.

But what if you do squats in the presence of FAI? In case of a squat down to not beyond the parallel, probably nothing, since hip flexion does not come to a critical point of impingement.

In case of a full squat, reaching the critical degree of flexion of the hip that results in impingement with flexion of the bend itself and microtraumatic damage of the coxofemoral, to go further down it will have to compensate for the back losing the lumbar lordosis and sending the pelvis into retrograde Thus achieving an overload of lumbar-acarial intervertebral disks, which will be proportional to the extent of the external load raised, with risk of wear and discard hernia. Then in front of the FAI the full squat is contraindicated.

4) Vertebrae column and pelvis:

The spine is the real weakness of the squat. In order to avoid even serious injuries, the spine should remain at the frontal plane straight and in axis and on the extensible sagittal plane, that is, with the eruptive muscles of the activated column, with a lumbar lumbar locked and with the dock (back arched and sitting out ), throughout the arc of the movement, both in eccentric and concentric phase. In practice, the rachis-pelvis unit is understood as a unique non-deformable block secured by the vertebral muscles that need to be well-trained. The spur-extension movements of the spine are therefore not there, the spine is rigidly contracted in extension with anchored pelvis, the flexion and extension of the bust occurs on the hips. In addition, the overall trim should not exaggerate with the front flexion of the torso in order to avoid unnecessary overloads and damage to the lumbosacral spine.

In order to maintain the correct position of the spine and the pelvis and the correct overall alignment, in order to reduce the vertebral and discontinuous stress and the related risk of injury, it is essential to understand and respect these points:

  1. Take care of the propedeutics: boosting the paravertebral and abdominal muscles and the core system as a whole, improving muscular flexibility (especially the acupuncture), improving proprioceptive control and overall posture.
  2. Customize squat execution according to its characteristics in order to have a correct overall layout: use a raised tab underneath the heels in case of an ankle with a poorly undesired dorsal that can not be corrected otherwise, increase the abutment of the hips in case of long femur in relation to height, avoid full squats in front of FAI; these cautions will allow to squat while maintaining the lumbar lordosis and the antiverter of the pelvis and avoid having to flex too far the bust on the cans avoiding damaging overloads to the rachis.
  3. Gradual progression (by stages) towards full squat by curing technical execution and overall layout: full squat is technically more difficult because, even in the absence of anterior hip of the hip, going under the parallel tends to lose the lumbar lordosis and the antisense of the pelvis; you need to increase the depth of the squat gradually over time, proceeding by step and under the supervision of an experienced instructor.
  4. Increase the external load very gradually: initially you do not have to think about the external load, which can also be zero (free body or a stick or empty barbell), but acquire the correct motor pattern of the exercise. Subsequently, the load increments will have to be very gradual, thus allowing a progressive adaptation of all the structures in play. The increase in muscle strength is faster than the mechanical adaptation of other tissues.

Why is it so important to maintain the lumbar spine of the lumbar spine with the pelvis antisense and to limit the front flexion of the bust on the hips? From the biomechanical point of view, the spine or spine is designed to withstand compressive loads due to its alternating physiological curves on the sagittal plane: cervical lumbar spine, chest tightness and lumbar lordosis. For this reason, it is necessary to maintain a lumbar lumbar lobe with an overlapping pelvis during the execution of the squat. Losing lumbar lordosis or even inverting it makes the column much weaker exposing it to risks. The rachis resists much less to the cutting forces and these increase as the bust flexion increases, which should therefore be contained within the overall squat cavity. If the lumbar lordosis does not maintain with the pelvis antisera, the disc loading increases considerably at the same lifted load level, the pulverized nucleus of the intervertebral disc is compressed and pushed back against the fibrous anulus, thereby creating the conditions for generating discopathy known as disc hernia, with all that comes from it.


It is good to know that degeneration of the pulp nucleus of the intervertebral disc begins from the second decade while the degeneration of the fibrous anulus begins from the third decade, the peak incidence of the hernia disc is between 30 and 35 years. Aging and susceptibility to wear of intervertebral disks are genetically determined, somewhat like wrinkles and the development of white hair. In any case repeated overloads and microtraums accelerate discal and vertebral degeneration (spondylodipathyrosis). So to maintain a healthy and biologically young rachis over time it is necessary to avoid all the wrong and useless overloads.

In case of severe discopathy (e.g., discus hernia) or vertebral instability (e.g. ontogenetic or acquired spondylolisthesis) or other severe vertebral pathology, squatting with overload is contraindicated as it may worsen the existing rachis pathology with serious and disabling consequences. It should be pointed out, however, that squatting and unloading from the ground are not very useful exercises that can be used, with the due criteria and under supervision, for both rehabilitative and therapeutic purposes (and not performance), evaluating case by case without generalizations.

Full-body-stretch-training-that-is-safe-for-your-backSo should you do a full squat or better not? We respond with a series of questions and answers.

Is squat an exercise for everyone?

No, there are contraindications to squat practice with overload in general or limited to full squats.

E.g. squatting with overload, even if correctly performed, worsens a vertebral spondylolisthesis, both already existing (ontogenetic form) and acquired (spondylolistes from overload, frequent in pests); in these cases the squatting with overload is contraindicated. For example, in the presence of front FAI you do not have to perform full squats; if in the full squat you feel inguinal pain it would be better to have control of the hips to exclude FAI.

When it is determined that squats can be performed up to full squats, does the latter, if properly performed, exert a greater risk of injury than a squat up to the parallel?

No, if you maintain the lumbar lordosis with the pelvis antistress to the bottom, if the execution is slow and controlled and without rebound on the knees and with a gradual increase of the loads.

Is doing a technically correct full squat more difficult?

Yes, maintaining lumbar lordosis with a pelvis underneath the parallel is more difficult, so the risk of error is higher and as a consequence the risk of injury; in full squats it is better to reduce the external load for better control.

If you only squat up to the parallel, can you afford not to have a perfect technique and to increase the loads faster?

No, it would be just irresponsible and dangerous, squat, regardless of whether it is full or not, should always be done correctly.

If you can do a full squat, if you do it with all the criteria, can you do it safely and with some athletic performance benefits?

Yes, as long as it is executed with all the appropriate criteria and with lower loads than the non-full version.

If you do squat up to the parallel, can you push your knees beyond the upward projection of the feet?

In the parallel squat, the 80 degrees of flexion of the knee is exceeded, and the knee position itself with respect to the feet depends on the overall pattern. If you have the ‘long’ femur in relation to the height then you can overcome my feet in projection so as not to bend too much forward my bust and overload the spine, alternatively you could widen the base of support.

If you do a squat up to full squat, can avoid your feet moving beyond the projection?

Yes, otherwise, to maintain a balance, you should flex too far the bust overloading the lumbosacral spine with the risk of losing the lumbar lordosis and retracting the pelvis.

Should you raise the heel or not?

Should-you-raise-the-heel-or-notIs it worthwhile raising your heels while squatting?

Yes, in cases where there is a poor backbone of the ankle that can not be corrected and more so if you have to do a full squat.

When it does not work, would it be harmful to use it?

No, in doubtful cases to use it is not wrong, also in full squat could improve the overall layout by avoiding backward unbalance or excessive flexion of the bust.

But if it is determined that you do not need it, even in full squats, do you have to use it?


Are barefoot workouts better?

Barefoot workouts maximize proprioception. In the right hygienic and temperature conditions it can be done.

So to do the squat in total safety for your back and joints, what should you do?

Perform an accurate orthopedic and chinesiological evaluation that excludes or points out the presence of morbid conditions and / or conditions that represent absolute contraction or squat practice.

Defining point 1, learning the correct squat technique, with any customization, without thinking about the load, but refining the motor pattern and the proprioception, also performing all pre-requisites for squats with the aim of strengthening the core and improving the muscle flexibility and posture. Slowly and gradually increase loads without having to hurry to ensure the right fit of all the structures involved.

Are deadlifts safe to perform for the back health?

Are deadlifts safe to perform for the back healthAs with squats, deadlift is not a closed-loop, multi-sided and complex kinetic chain exercise, which allows the lifting of substantial loads but which is potentially dangerous and harmful if performed incorrectly. Deadlifts and squat are conceptually the same, and therefore the same anatomical and functional considerations already made for the lower limbs and pelvis apply. Stooping and squatting are two push exercises for the lower limbs you would say almost superimposable for a healthy and stable spine as the indispensable requirement to get started. There are two very technical exercises and you have to assimilate the correct motor pattern before thinking about the external load if you want to avoid even serious injuries. The substantial difference with squat is the application of the load, which is not placed on the shoulders (behind or in front), but at the level of the hands by the grounding of the classic barbell or other replacement instrument (trap bar, kettlebell etc. ). Therefore, in the breakout, the whole motor system involved in this grip comes into play: hands-forearms-arms-shoulders-high back. So these areas should also be evaluated and prepared. The muscles that determine the hand grip and the shoulder stabilizers are very active in this exercise. From the point of view of muscle involvement, deadlifts are more complete than squat. The acquisition of the correct execution technique, a good preparation and the gradual increase of the loads are essential to avoid accidents. Therefore, after a first evaluation of orthopedics and chinesiology, one should be entrusted with an experienced instructor in the exercise of this exercise.

In general, in order to avoid overloading the back as much as possible, it is necessary to maintain the stable spine in the extension with a compressed lumbar lordosis and pelvis flexed back throughout the arch of the movement (flexion-extension of the bust happens above the ankles), Avoiding excessive forward bending, as well as excessively advanced weights, increase loads very gradually. The key point is to understand that the weight should not be lifted by ‘back’, which is very dangerous, through a mere extension of the bust by hinging only on the hips while retaining the lumbar spine with anchored pelvis (as in the stretched legs ). Movement should involve, just like in squat, the push exerted by the lower limbs on the floor, through a synergistic work of ankles, knees and ankles.

The motor pattern of this exercise, if well performed, is extraordinary because it teaches to lift or pick up a weights of the ground in the correct way to avoid overloading the back and in this view the ground clearance is also a rehabilitation exercise. Obviously, for the purpose of rehabilitation, the external loads used will be much lower than those of PL or BB. For those who have difficulty with a straight bar, the trap bar is a useful aid for the correct and safe execution of the ground clearance.


Initially, with a barbell or trap bar, you can also use drains and raised support supports to reduce the depth of gesture, which will be gradually increased over time. Once the technical perfection with complete movement is achieved, you can start working on the increase in the external load, which will have to be very gradual. This in an opinion of experts and a safe way of working out.

However, deadlifting is an exercise that has a very disadvantageous biomechanics for the lumbosacral spine, because despite the correct technical execution at this level, forces of incredible measure are produced, which is very damaging, since the spine is Designed to withstand compression forces. In rough line, the external load applied to the hands is increased by about 10-20 times at the lumbosacral spine, in particular increases with the increase in the front flexion of the torso reaching a maximum of 90 degrees of flexion. Imagine what could happen if lumbar lordosis and pelvis antisession were lost during this exercise would be a disaster for intervertebral disks. It is therefore not a safe exercise. In the opinion of back health specialists, this exercise is to be avoided, not only in case of a confirmed rachis pathology, but also in case of a healthy spine, in order to avoid the risk of developing acquired pathologies (e.g. discopathies and acquired spondylolysis, etc.).

How about deadlifts with bust flexed at 90 degrees?

This exercise has the same biomechanical problems as the lumbar spindle limb forces at the level of the lumbosacral rachis, which with the bent sloping in a fixed position at 90 degrees are the highest. In these working conditions, losing the lumbar lordosis and the antisense of the pelvis would be a real slaughter for the lumbosacral rachis. So it is not a safe exercise and therefore to be avoided. You can get the same work angles, saving your back, performing some traction exercises with rings. Traction with rings, with all possible variants, are wonderful exercises. The rings, not constituting a fixed lane and being one by hand, are much better adapted to the variations that occur during different phases of exercise, compared to a bar or trap bar, resulting in a truly physiological tool for the joints. In addition, the rings allow for movement of the waist-supination of the wrist-elbow during traction. Starting at maximum at the beginning of the traction and supinating during the traction itself, so as to close in supine supine, it reduces the stress at the level of the epicondylar and epitroclear muscles of the elbow. This reduces the risk of developing the most annoying epicondylitis and epitrocleitis that many sufferers suffer. When body weight is not enough, you can increase the load with ballast jackets, chains, belts with weights, etc.

How-about-deadlifts-with-bust-flexed-at-90-degreesAthletes practicing deadlifts at 90 degrees as a traction movement exactly opposite to that of the thrust of the bench press in the empirical viewpoint of not creating muscle-articulates at the level of the scapular track. This idea is not wrong, indeed, the problem is the overload of the lososacral spine. You can and should reach the same goal by using exercises that do not overburden the rachis structures unnecessarily, slaughtering your back.

One option, for lovers of barbell deadlifts with the bust flexed, is given by performing the exercise with a ‘support platform’. The platform is a well-known tool for such deadlifts, but it is not commonly available in regular fitness gyms. However, it is possible to reproduce the exercise with a bit of ingenuity and creativity using a bench raised to a sitting position, and perform the exercise with a barbell, preferably curved. Without going into the vector details of the forces at stake, with the bust in support of the sub-panel in practice, the forces at the level of the loin-sacral spine are canceled, leaving for the rest unchanged the biomechanics of exercise at the upper limbs and scapular.

The inclination of the platform is an important variable in the biomechanics of the exercise: with the sub-plane parallel to the ground, i.e. inclination 0 degrees (which is equivalent to the bumpy bender at 90 degrees to understand us) the work on the great ridge will be maximum. With increasing tilting inclinations, 10 degrees -20 degrees -30 degrees -45 degrees, etc., the work will progressively move on to the upper back. The width of the balance grip, which determines the degree of abduction of the humerus (such as in the bench press), is an important variable: increasing the grip width increases abduction of the molar and hence during the exercise work will be greater on the muscles of the high back (deltoid, trapezius and rhomboids in practice).

Another variable is the type of grip: a supine outlet results in greater performance of the brachial biceps, thus removing work from the other muscles involved.

Ultimately crossing all the variables and wanting to optimize the work both on the large backbone and on the high back the rotor with a subwoofer and barbell could be executed with a slope of the subwoofer between 0 degrees and 30 degrees, with a hold grip and with a grip width which results in an abduction of the hymen not exceeding 45 degrees. In practice, do the traction movement of the rotor in ‘opposition’ to that of pushing the bench press. One important thing during the positive or concentric traction phase of the rower is to bark the blades by activating medium trapezius and rhomboids.

Bench press technique for back safety

In a bench press, should you maintain a dorsal arch or not? What is the optimum grip width? This is an important question that needs careful analysis. The critical point of the bench press is the shoulders.

Bench-press-technique-for-back-safetyIf performed wrong, a sub-acromial impingement with the twisting of the rotator cuff (a tendon formed by subscapularis, supraspinatus, intraspinatus and teres minor) and the long head of the brachial biceps (CLBB, which has an intra-articular course in the scapulo-humeral joint). By doing so, in the long run, these structures can flare (tendonitis), deteriorate (tendonous) until break (lesion). This pathological process takes the name of tendinopathy.

Luckily Mother Nature has given us the sub-acromial bag to mitigate these phenomena and often this bag is the first flapping and hurting artefact (sub-acromial borsitis). It is also true that some particular acromial morphologies can result in greater sub-acromial impingement by the same number of other factors. It should be pointed out that with physiological aging the tendonopathy of the rotator cuff and the CLBB is a phenomenon to be considered ‘normal’, largely genetically determined (somewhat like for wrinkles and white hair), in fact many lesions of the cuff of the rotators have a start on the intra-articular slope.

However, we can not intervene on subjective genetic characteristics (which are to be regarded as non-modifiable constitutional factors), while we can and should avoid additional external biomechanical stresses (which are to be regarded as modifiable biomechanical external factors). Another critical criterion of the bench press is the stress of ligament capillary structures and antero-inferior glenoid (e.g. Bankart / ALPSA, microinstability, instability on constitutional laxity, etc.).

Bench press is an exercise associated with increased incidence of injuries / injuries at the shoulder level, probably because a few are doing it correctly. To reduce the risks (which will never equal zero) and to safeguard the rotator cuff and CLBB, try to perform the bench press by avoiding / reducing sub-acromial impingement. How to do it? Here we come closer to answering the initial question: dorsal arch or not?

The best execution technique is that of PL, that is, with a bow, as it guarantees both shoulder protection and maximum expression of force output. But let’s understand why we are analyzing the configuration and trim. Let’s say immediately that the spine would be more appropriate to define it as a back-limb arch, as it is achieved through a lumbar hyperlordosis and a dorsal decifying. An arc then has to have 2 points of support, which in this case are, cranially, the spars of the scapula (not the neck!) and, finally, the feet to the ground (the buttocks leaning or touching the bench but the point of discharge are feet to the ground).

The arch alone is not enough to safeguard the shoulders, the shoulder blades should be pressed and compressed (i.e., centered and pressed downward), so as to make a configuration with chest out and back and back shoulders. Another fundamental point is to avoid unnecessary stress at the level of capillary-ligament structures and antero-inferior glenoids. Here the considerations regarding the width of the grip come into play here.

Now, in order to get the safest position of the barbell, you have to keep in mind some key concepts:

  1. The balance should be approximately at the base of the chest (below the line joining the nipples); The barbell when it comes to the base of the chest should never bounce, it should come slowly, stop for a moment and then start again in the push phase.
  2. The wrist, the forearm and the elbow should be in the axis and perpendicular to the barbell itself both on the sagittal and axial plane, so that right and left forearm are parallel to each other and the elbows are beneath the barbell both at the front and the sagittal; the elbows are always under the barbell at all stages.
  3. In the bench press the width of the grip and, therefore, the degree of abduction of the molar with the chest barbell (i.e. the removal of the arm from the body on the frontal plane) affects both the degree of activation of the large pectoral stress of the capillary cap structures and the antero-inferior glenoids. The goal is to stimulate the muscular bundle of the big pectoral without stressing the capillary cap structures and the antero-inferior glenoids. Abduction of the humerus with the chest balance can vary between 0 degrees when it is parallel to the torso and 90 degrees when it is perpendicular to the torso. Obviously, increasing the width of the grip increases the abdominal abduction.

As for the large pectoral activation, the grip is wide and therefore the degree of abduction of the humerus on the frontal plane with the chest is increased, the sternum bands of the large pectoral bones are activated (in gym slang, the central and the lower pectorals), the more the grip is narrower, the more the degree of abduction of the humerus on the chest frontal front is reduced, the more the frontal deltoid and triceps are activated at the expense of the large pectoral.

One should consider apart the clavicular bundles of the large pectoral (the upper pectoralis in the palestrous jargon), in fact they are best stimulated to 45 degrees abduction of the humerus with a chest barbell at the frontal plane and similarly to the inclined bench (to be precise, up to 44 degrees tilt), making the latter redundant.

As for the reduction of stress on ligament capsules and anterior-inferior glenoidal capsules, it is advisable not to exceed the 45 degrees degree of abduction of humerus with a chest barbell at the frontal plane (avoiding the distraction of the gleno-humerals, upper, middle and lower, which are deeply placed in the tendon of the subcapular, and traction on the corresponding portion of the glenoidous tendon).

In this regard, it is also necessary to consider the degree of extension of the ovary with chest barbell on the sagittal plane (as the humerus moves away from the back of the torso) which should not exceed 15 degrees.

At the height of the back-lumbar bow, to bring to the base of the chest the balance with wrists-forearms-elbows in the right position (see point 2), will expand the grip proportionally and then increase the degree of abduction of the molar As we have said it is convenient not to exceed 45 degrees. Therefore exaggerated bows are to be avoided. As in all things, it takes the right measure.

Therefore, making the correct bow-lumbar bow with bent shoulders and depressed the chest will be outward and declinated and the shoulders retracted, then the bracket will be moved to the base of the chest and the right grip width will be obtained when the forearms, wrist and elbow In the axis, will be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the barbell, so that the elbows are positioned exactly below the barbell, and the degree of abduction of the humerus at the frontal plane will be 45 degrees and the length of the humerus on the basal plane of 15 degrees. If the grip is too tight then the arc needs to be increased, vice versa if the grip is too wide then the bow would be too arched (the latter is a rare event because the bow is not so easy) and should be reduced.

But why backward arching and bend and pressing down the shoulder blades, pushing the chest forward and declining is important for the shoulders? Because with this position of the shoulder blades the sub-acromial space widens and reduces the risk of impingement. This can be easily understood by observing the humerus on the sagittal plane and at the end of the stroke: the humerus forms with the plane a lower angle of 90 degrees proportional to the arch acuity, so the acromial roof will be shifted backwards. On the frontal plane and with the chest barbell, at the beginning of the pushing phase, it is preferable that the humerus is abducted at an angle not greater than 45 degrees, while on the sagittal plane the humerus should not be extended beyond the 15 degrees, to reduce the stress on the gleno-humeral capsules mentioned above.

So in conclusion, the answer to the initial question is arch yes.

But the problem with the bow-limb arch is to create the arch. To do this well, you have to go into lumbar hyperlordosis, which means to reduce the space of the intervertebral boreholes where nerve roots pass and load inter-vertebral intervertebral joints. So what happens? In a young and healthy rachis – nothing. In case of discopathies (e.g. bulging or discard hernia) and / or initial arthritis, there may be more or less consistent disorders depending on the existing pathology, with difficulty in making or maintaining the arch.

benches-with-raised-legAnother difficulty in performing the bow may be represented by those who exhibit a marked dorsal kyphosis. So in these cases, what do you do? One possibility could be a bench with a decline or constructing a bench with an arc curvature on which to recline. The reason why in fitness gyms known brands have constructed benches with raised leg support is just to avoid the lumbar hyperlordosis, thus causing the spine to rest and decompressing the intervertebral holes, thus relieving the symptoms in case of aging and degenerate vertebral columns. This is because the average age of gym population has raised (not everyone you meet at your gym is twenty-one) and consequently, the possibility of degenerative problems to the spine. But decompressing the back solves the ‘rachis problem’ and increases the ‘shoulder problem’, also because the rotator cuffs in older athletes is also aged and degenerated.

Overhead squat special tips

This exercise is very challenging and potentially risky. It needs a solid experience with back squat and military press. As for the squat component, the same considerations as we have already observed, the only difference is that the load instead of being rested on the back of the shoulders is dislocated high but on the same axis. The load instability component is much greater. The key point is the incision of the shoulders that occurs with the abduction and elevation behind the head. This is a potentially dangerous position for dislocation, so it is not recommended for those who have weak or unstable shoulders. In addition, shoulder mobility should allow you to reach the top and behind the headband.

Overhead-squat-special-tipsTherefore, before doing this exercise, it is best to be thoroughly evaluated by a specialized orthopedicist. In case of healthy shoulders, a good and experienced chinesiologist should be entrusted with a good preparation for the reinforcement of the rotator cuff muscles (subscapularis, supraspinatus, intraspinatus and teres minor) and scapula stabilizers (front dentition, rhomboid, scapula, small pectoral and lower and central trapezium) as well as to gain good joint mobility with specific stretching exercises. To squat with a balance bar above and behind your head in an unstable position is not easy, you have to learn to do it gradually. It is best to always be assisted by an experienced instructor in this exercise.

An exemplary workout for a stronger and healthier back

Just because latissimus dorsi is a large muscle and compromises the use of so many other agonists, back muscle training entails a high energy expenditure, at the muscular and neuronal level; so it is best to train it only once during the weekly micro-cycle, in order to avoid overcoming it. So an optimal workout context is structured this way:

MONDAYMorning: abdominals, biceps
Afternoon: breast, shoulders, triceps
TUESDAYMorning: stretching, cardio
WEDNESDAYMorning: calves, biceps, triceps.
Afternoon: quads and femurals
THURSDAYMorning: stretching, cardio
FRIDAYMorning: abdominals, triceps

Afternoon: back, deltoids, biceps


Begin the training session for the back muscles by stretching the back: on your knees, move your bust to the floor, trying to lower your chest as much as possible, holding your head high and arms stretched out; this exercise particularly affects the backbone in the lateral fascia; then standing with a wall behind, turning your torso and head back, holding her knees slightly bent. support your hands on the wall, forcing the elongation tension in this stretching phase involving the upper and middle of the back.

stretching the backThe first and perhaps the most complete exercise that exists for the back, the low or high pulley traction (depending on where you want to concentrate the job: raising the trajectory of the force moves the work to the upper part of the back and the trapezium).


This exercise builds both thickness and amplitude in the backbone and places significant stress on the trapezius and spinal eruptors. The secondary stress affects the spinal, biceps, brachial and the forearms of the forearms; if this feels too challenging, use hooks to prevent letting go of the grip, considering the high workloads used with this exercise. It is recommended to perform 4 series of 6/8 repetitions, with a 2 minutes recovery between the series.

Let us remind you that despite big weights, execution must never be wrong. Grasp the handle, place your feet against the stop bar near the pulley and sit on the machine, keep your legs down about 10 degrees throughout the movement in order to avoid damaging stresses at the lower back, fully arm your arms and move forward as long as the bust does not touch her thighs, a position that tends completely to the back. straighten your torso and pull the handle first with an adduction pulling back the shoulders and closing the shoulder blades, then with a further flexion of the arms, this way ‘m sure to contract the muscles completely.

Lat machine

Another fundamental exercise is the traction at the lat machine, with this exercise add amplitude to your backbones. The front wheels first press the lower and middle sections of the back, while the tracts behind the neck are useful for the top of the dorsal and trapezius. Here, too, there is a strong secondary stress on spinal deltoids, biceps, and forearms flexors.

Lat machineThe execution of this exercise may vary, depending on which bar you are using, such as the trajectory or the straight bar. In both cases the handle should be about 30 cm larger than the shoulders. start the exercise by grabbing the bar and stretching your arms completely, then putting your legs under the stop bar, to prevent the body from moving while exercising. Holding your back arched during exercise, pull the weight down until touch the upper part of the chest, then slowly release by stretching the arms and the back muscles again.

With this exercise always perform 4 series of 8/10 repetitions and 90 seconds of recovery between the series and the other. repeat the last repetitions by performing blades, as the arm muscles exhaust first than the back, so in this case the execution is limited only to the lowering of the shoulders. Alter the tractions on the lat machine with bar grips using sometimes the triangle, in this case the only variant is that during the adduction the elbow is attached to the torso and contraction moves more in the center back.

Straight-arm dumbbell pullover

Conclude your dorsal training session with the pullover, this movement loads the latissimus dorsi muscle and develops your pectorals, also important is the work of the large agonist in stabilization against the scapula, keeping the latter well adherent to the chest wall. Lie down on a bench and grab the upper handlebar handle with the palm of the hands carrying it over the shoulder joint. Your arms keep them slightly folded by about 15 degrees to avoid burdening the elbow joint. However, keep your elbows in the middle of the body all the way around the movement.

With this exercise, do 3 sets of 10/12 reps and 60 seconds of recovery between one set and the other. It is very important to perform a proper exhalation during the concentric phase of the movement, this so as not to create endoabdominal pressures that can lead to spills of inguinal hernias, especially when the loads are high.

One last thing to be sure is to congestion to the maximum of the back muscle: remember that in Physics, the Work is given by the Force For Movement (L = F x S), force is, of course, the weight that you lift, the movement is the most movement as complete as possible that your joints allow you to accomplish, so in simple words, always use big weights but still keep a proper execution, and you will be surprised by the results!