Did you know that 80% of Americans suffer from lower back pain some time in their life? While the pain can be associated with many factors, one major reason could be the imbalance in your own body. Basically your complimentary muscles act as a pulley system with your joints. So for your knees, the quads and the hamstrings push and pull to bend your knee. Any imbalance of strength, stability or previous injuries to those muscles could cause knee pain or even injury. Hamstrings and lower back work together with your hips, so any imbalance in your hamstrings could be causing that lower back pain. Anyway, this little rant is to say that you should take care of your hamstrings. Deadlifts are a great exercise that target both the lower back and the hamstrings. However, strength training tends to tighten muscles, so don’t forget to finish with a good foam roll or stretch session to bring your muscles back better than ever.
Repeat three rounds of the deadlift circuits, then two rounds of the targeted hamstring exercises and finish the workout with two rounds of 15 on the Kettlebell Romanian Deadlifts. Finally, use the foam roller for at least 5 minutes to relieve that muscle tension, especially in your hamstrings and lower back.
Straight Leg Deadlifts: Use a barbell loaded with plates and choose a decently heavy weight, but not your max. Start standing tall, hinge forward at your hips keeping your back flat and legs as straight as possible. Let the weight hang from your arms, then stand up tall. Your arms should not be doing any of the work, you should be pulling from your posterior chain (ie. lower back, booty, hamstrings).
Kettlebell Swings: I love this exercise for hip mobility. Start in a low squat holding a kettlebell with two hands. Thrust your hips upward and let that momentum carry the weight to about shoulder height. You will also feel some control coming from your core.
Kettlebell Side Bends: Traditional ab workouts bore me, so I find ways to incorporate an exercises right into my circuit routines. Stand tall with kettlebell at your side. Crunch to the side to hit your obliques. You should be crunching on the side opposite of the weight. Some people have a hard time isolating their side abs here, so lean forward slightly when you crunch if you need that extra bend to feel it.
Traditional Deadlifts: Same form as the straight leg deadlifts, only this time bend your knees and drag the weight along your legs almost like you are shaving. You still want a straight back and you will still feel this in your posterior chain, this one just recruits your legs more. If it helps, you can use an alternate grip on the bar like I do.
Dumbbell Double Squat Snatch: This one helps with core control, and like the kettlebell swing, hip mobility. I throw in a double squat to exaggerate those hips, almost like a catch and then press. Start in a squat with one dumbbell in the middle. Thrust your hips up with a strait arm and catch yourself in a squat. Then, tighten your abs and press your body up tall (watch the video linked at the end).
Dumbbell/Bench Full Leg Lift: Balancing on the bench with a dumbbell in both hands, extend your body into one long line. Squeeze your abs to bring both the dumbbell and your legs up towards each other. Do not over-rotate your shoulder here. The dumbbell does not need to go all the way down to the bench to get the effect we need for our abs.
One Leg Kneeling Hamstring Curl: Load your plates on the machine and curl your leg up towards your butt.
One Leg Barbell Deadlift: Balancing on one leg and holding the barbell with both hands, hinge forward at your hips. Let your free leg extend backwards and make sure your back stays straight. Stand up using the butt and hamstring of your balancing leg. Don’t lose your balance! Although I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I had to cut me falling out of the video HAHA
Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift: By now your body is tired. Choose a lighter weight and get those 15 reps in. Same as always, flat back, hips move backwards. For the “Romanian” version of the deadlift, legs are slightly bent.