As bodybuilders, we’ll do almost anything to keep building muscle and come closer to their physique goals. And as long as we perform our routines with proper form and make sure to provide good nutrition and adequate rest to our bodies, weightlifting also helps us maintain better health than the average non-training population.
And that’s the beauty of bodybuilding – besides giving you massive, lean muscles and the strength of a superhero, it also has the ability to protect and improve your health and build mental toughness. It’s truly a great deal, but unfortunately, it can’t always save us from the downsides of our modern way of living which tend to be increasingly sedentary.
However, the truth is that many of us are exercising for one hour in the day while spending the rest of our waking hours in a chair in front of a desk and on the sofa in front of the TV. In this context, no matter how hard we work out during that one hour, our gym efforts can’t heal the damage caused by our largely sedentary lifestyles. We end up getting the same chronic pains and weaknesses as the rest of the population, and these can easily increase our risk of injury in the weight room.
In fact, excessive sitting throughout the day is very likely to have a negative effect on the quality of your training and your spine health.
We all need our jobs to provide a roof over our heads and allow us to continue investing time and money into our dreams, but if our jobs demand us to be sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time, it’s time to think up a strategy that would neutralize the harm caused on our health and performance. And that’s exactly what we did.
This postural activation routine is simple, quick and extremely effective at resetting your posture, teaching your glutes to fire properly, strengthening your spinal stabilizers and preventing lower back pain. It will only take about 5 minutes of your day, but if you do it on a daily basis for a few weeks, you’ll soon notice that you’re standing taller and feeling much better, and there’s no back ache to stop you from working with your favorite heavy weights anymore!
FOAM ROLL QUADS: 60 sec. per leg
Foam rolls can be used to target the most tight and functionally shortened tissues in your body, thereby improving the mobility of the fascia layer and increasing your range of motion. When working on these tissues, you’re likely to experience discomfort or pain, but keep going with the motion in a controlled and gentle way.
Place the foam roller on the floor and position yourself on your stomach with the foam roller under the front of one of your thighs. You want to find the most tender trigger point in the area, so move the roller slowly, 1-2 inches at a time for 20-30 seconds and focus on the parts that feel the tightest. After you find 2-3 such spots and loosen them up, repeat on the other thigh.
BANDED GLUTE BRIDGE: 4 sets of 6 reps, 10 sec. of rest
Not only that it’s a great move for firming the glutes, the glute bridge can help improve core stabilization while the hips are extended, especially around the lumbar spine, which is an important factor in preventing lower back pain. In addition, since sitting all day long tends to hurt the alignment of the pelvis and lumbar spine, glute bridges can help you activate the posterior chain, restore the proper alignment of the pelvis and lumbar spine and increase local blood supply to the most affected tissues.
The glutes are responsible for many movements that occur at the hips and pelvis, so to target as many functions of the glutes at once and increase the benefits, it’s recommended to use a mini-band on this exercise.
Lay on your back and wrap the band just above the knees, keeping the feet in a narrow position. Drive your knees out, then drive your hips up into extension by squeezing your glutes hard. Hold the peak contraction for a second, then slowly lower back down.
DYNAMIC HIP-FLEXOR STRETCH: 45 sec. oscillation and 30 sec. static stretch per leg
This type of stretching is a must-do for anyone who spends way too much time sitting every day. The focus here is placed on allowing the hip flexor muscles to functionally lengthen against a stable lumbar-pelvic complex, just like nature intended.
Get in a half-kneeling position and first stabilize your body by generating tension through the pecs and lats, contracting the glute on the kneeling leg and engaging the core complex. This is very important for adequately positioning the scapulae and pelvis so that you don’t compensate with your lower back. Now that you’re properly tense and stable, bring your hands slowly to the front knee and oscillate back and forth with a very limited knee movement for 45 seconds, then perform a 30-second static stretch at end range. Switch legs and repeat.
3-WAY PLANK: 3 rounds, 15 sec. hold in each position
There’s no better way to finish a postural activation routine like this than a maximum-force plank variant. The 3-way plank is a combination of a side plank and front plank that relies on short bouts of maximum intensity to recruit as many motor units as possible and active the entire lower and upper body, priming your posterior chain for heavy squats and deadlifts.
First, complete 15-second holds of side planks on each side, then finish the round with completing 15 seconds of a front plank on elbows. During the holds, squeeze every activated muscle of your body as intense as possible. Fully engage the shoulders, abdominal muscles, glutes and quads. Release the tension for a moment until you get into the next position, then go for a full muscle contraction again.
That’s all! This routine will take only 5 minutes of your day but its benefits will be powerful and long-lasting. Try performing it every morning and at any time of the day when your body feels stiff or your lower back starts aching – it will relieve the pain and keep those small but incredibly important stabilizing muscles and connective tissues in proper shape, so that you’re free to focus all of your attention on building the body you want instead of healing painful back injuries.
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