Weights / strength - minor back issue


I’ve been following the 10 week weights plan, and am now one session away from completing the hypertrophy phase. In today’s session (the final “Heavy” hypertrophy session), I really noticed my lower back feeling weak, and aching increasingly with each set. I know a bit of lower back ache is kind of to be expected but today it got pretty bad, to the point where I thought it best not to attempt the final heaviest set as it had progressed from “tired ache” to “pain”.

I’m confident in my form (has been checked by PT) and sure I’ve set my weights correctly using the 1RM and percentages in the plan, so I guess this is just a question of borderline overloading muscles and joints that aren’t fully adapted to a weights programme.

Anyway, I did what I thought was the sensible thing and stopped the heavy session. Instead, I took a load of weight off and did a series of high rep, low weight, full “ass to grass” squats which I used to do back in the day. 4 sets of 25 reps with 40KG (my 1RM is 100KG for reference). These felt much more kind on the lower back. I also did a bunch of Bulgarian split squats, again high reps lower weight, to avoid stressing my back but giving my quads, glutes and flexors a good day out.

I know the FtFP mantra but hopefully here you agree I made a sensible call and change to the plan today? I would appreciate some advice on where to go from here - should I finish hypertrophy tomorrow and start the strength phase on Monday as per my plan, or do I take a bit longer away from the squat rack to give my back time to recover?

Thanks in advance.

PS. I am on the coaching subscription with @Jake so feel free to check my TP etc.

1 Like

Keen to see the Coaches replies, as the next phase i.e. Strength the weights get heavier but half the reps. I’m in week 1 of Hypertrophy and that first heavy session was also brutal on the back for me. With my next workout I’ll try a warmup where I’m actually activating the back & glute muscles too.

1 Like

Hey @malcolm.isaacs, sounds like a good idea to really get specific with your warm up. A quick spin on the bike and 15 rushed squats with the bar doesn’t really cut it (speaking from experience :grinning:). Having said that I definitely felt like my back was close to giving out yesterday, it kind of felt weak/achey/unstable. Different to just needing a good warmup I think.

Anyway how you getting on, more hypertrophy today? It was meant to be my final hypertrophy session but I skipped it. First one I’ve missed. Not a case of laziness but trying to be sensible and figured 3 days off might be a good idea before hitting the strength phase properly on Monday.

Spoke to a PT friend who said the pain is most likely lack of conditioning and consequence of not doing enough general flexibility and mobility work. Probably a lot of truth in that. All I do is sit hunched over my bike for as many hours as possible every week. And when I can’t do that I’m hunched over a desk!


Kudos to you on stopping the exercise that was causing pain. That is a tough call to make when you are in the zone.

For me the kettle bell swings were causing some pain in my back (poor form?) so I have discontinued those.

1 Like

Well that’s just the thing, the situation at my gym is I’ll be 5min into the warmup spin and if I spot the squat rack becomes available I abandoned warmup and rush over to claim otherwise it could be 30-60minutes before you get a chance to use it again. Have you considered using a belt for back support?

Today was my 2nd heavy session of Hypertrophy and can feel the joints & back is taking a beating while lying on the couch now. I’m actually one day out as I had to shift everything up as the gym was closed on Sunday to do my 1RM. Today I was able to do a proper warmup 15min on the Wattbike and some back looseners, during the work it felt good and manageable so it definitely helps for me at least. Tomorrow is supposed to be light but since it’s back 2 back it actually feels harder than the Heavy Day.

I’m the same if not on the bike for hours then it’s in the chair behind a monitor.

Which training plan are you on? I’ve seen others mentioned they are the 10 weeks weight plan and are doing single leg curls? Now you mentioned kettle bells.
I’m on the 16weeks weights+base plan which I purchased probably +3years ago but using it for the time this January.

12 week at home weights.

1 Like

Is your back pain a deep ache or sharp? Do you wake in the morning with more pain and stiffness and it loosens up a bit as you walk around? Does it every hurt while sitting or driving for a period of time? If “yes” to any of these, you could have suffered a bit of lumbar disc derangement. We have to BE VERY CAREFUL here with squats, especially when you hit the strength phase where you’ll be putting more weight on the rack than ever. If your core isn’t absolutely dialed in and your form lacking - that’s a recipe for an injury that may take months to recover from and one that totally keeps you off the bike! The “ass-to-grass” way of squatting seems to take out your lumbar lordosis at the bottom. Letting the back flex like this with a heavy load on your shoulders is also a dangerous position to be in. When I had a hint of this type of pain at the beginning of my hypertrophy phase, I took 10 days off, got some traction therapy, went full gas on back stabilization exercises (like Bird-dog / Quadruped 1 and 2 - YouTube it) and eased back in with an additional week of break-in. Protect your back! – Dan Maduff, DC, CCSP