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“Bodybuilding Sins” That Cause Back Pain and Missed Workouts: Part 2
By: Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS and Steve Hefferon, CMT

Welcome to article number 2 in our series “Bodybuilding Sins That Cause Back Pain and Missed Workouts”. In this article we are going to talk about how bodybuilders tend to create massive muscle imbalances and what you can do to not be one of them.

If you missed the first article, you can read it by clicking on the link below.

Here’s a breakdown of the articles to look for:

1. Article #1 - Choosing The WRONG Exercises
2. Article #2 - Training Variations for Pain Relief and Maximum Results
3. Article #3 - Targeted Stretching
4. Article #4 - Targeted Exercises
5. Article #5 - Rest, Recovery, and Injury Prevention

Article #2 - Training Variations for Pain Relief and Maximum Results

Bodybuilders are a stubborn bunch… almost as bad as runners! And they tend to follow the “HERD” doing whatever exercises and routines the “pros” are doing...

Now, if your goal is to be as big as possible and you are not at all concerned with your health and fitness, don’t even bother this article… this article is for bodybuilders who ARE concerned about their health and want to be big, strong, powerful, and agile… if that’s you, read on…

The reason so many bodybuilders suffer from so many different injuries is because there are several things the “pros” don’t tell you…

First off, the articles that you see in all the muscle mags aren’t even written by the “pros”… and the workout routines they recommend are always extreme and often not even used by the “pro” who supposedly wrote because their main goal is to sell magazines… not give you the real deal on bodybuilding.

If you are serious about bodybuilding and want to achieve your true peak, you need to stay injury free… and that’s just about impossible if you train they way most bodybuilders do.

There are several key strategies that you can use right now to not only eliminate any aches, pains and injuries you currently have, but also keep from creating more muscle imbalances in the future. For a more detailed article on muscle imbalances go to

Strategy #1 - Target the Weaklings!

No, we don’t mean the exercises you think your weak at, or even the muscles you think are underdeveloped… what we mean is the muscles that are weak in relation to the opposing muscle group.

For example, in the first article we talked about why the Leg Extension is not a great exercise and why it’s responsible for so many cases of knee, hip, and back pain… and the reason is, most people, especially bodybuilders, are already over developed and stronger in the quadriceps… and usually have a significant imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings.

Another reason bodybuilders tend to develop so many severe muscle imbalances is because they emphasize the front of the body more than the back… a great example of this is what we call “The T-shirt Muscle Workout” and it usually consists of dozens of sets of chest and biceps…

you know what we mean… in just one workout you do flat bench, incline, decline, pec deck, dumbbell fly, cable cross overs… and then for biceps you’ve got barbell curls, dumbbell curls, preacher curls, cable curls, machine curls, and the list goes on…

So instead of emphasizing the muscles that are already strong, why not really hit those weak and under worked muscles like: neck, upper back, shoulder rotators, hamstrings, glutes, hip rotators, lower abs, and shins.

These areas tend to be weak, tight, out of balance with their opposing muscles, prone to muscle strains and pulls and most importantly, these imbalances lead to major injuries and conditions like back pain, knee pain, rotator cuff tears, tendonitis and others.

All of these conditions are caused by muscle imbalances and will NOT go away unless you work towards correcting the imbalances… and the only way to know for sure which imbalances are causing your pain or injury is to do a series of physical assessments like the ones covered in our “Lose the Back Pain Video”.

Strategy #2 - Experiment!

Here’s a personal challenge for you: Replace at least 1 of your normal weekly workouts with something totally different like combat martial arts, kettle bell training, functional training, or even strongman style exercises.

For example, instead of doing your super heavy, 3 inch partial rep leg presses, try a single leg squat… and if that’s easy, try adding weight! Or instead dozens of sets of shoulder presses and lateral raises, see if you can do 1 handstand push-up.

Those are just a few examples… do yourself a favor and experiment with other types of exercises. You can find hundreds of different types of training styles by taking classes, reading books, watching videos, surfing the web, hire a personal trainer, etc.

We aren’t asking you to give up your traditional workouts… but just cross-train a bit so you not only work towards a balanced body but also towards a stronger, more powerful and usable strength. Again, what good is muscle if you can’t use it!

Strategy #3 - Switch It Up!

Another great way to minimize the number of missed workouts due to injuries is to vary the exercises that you do for each muscle group. For example, if you always do barbell squats try rotating in other exercises like single-leg leg presses, trap-bar dead-lifts, d-bell squats, etc.


Remember, the key to eliminating injuries and preventing future ones is to identify what areas you need to target. In the next two articles we’ll be discussing in detail, how to address various injuries like back, hip, knee, and shoulder pain with targeted exercises and stretches. In the meantime, be sure to read thru all of our detailed Articles and if you have questions, please post them in our
Discussion Forum

About the Author

Article by Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, CSPN and Steve Hefferon, CMT, CPRS of If you’ve got back pain or sciatic pain, you’ve gotta check out their video.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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