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How Bodyweight Saved my Back

A few years ago I injured my SI joint (Sacroiliac, where the spine and hip join), closely followed with a herniated disk. This was about the last time I lifted heavy iron.

It was also the time I began to take bodyweight training more seriously. I always kept fit with bodyweight, but never used it for strength purposes. Until I got injured.

With the back injuries came sciatica, limited range of movement in the hip, scoliosis and a whole heap of pain. Serious training was out the window, but you think I’d give up?

I decided to use bodyweight to rehab myself. Nearly every bodyweight drill involves using the core and I badly needed to build my core if I was ever going to get myself back on track.

I chose two exercises and stole Pavel’s Russian ladder training protocol. The drills I chose were: Pull ups – About the only pain free thing I could do, hanging from a bar was great relief for the back. As I got stronger I hung weight from a belt. 1 Arm Pushups – The best upperbody strength builder. The advantage of this is the torsional stress across the core. Performing a right handed 1 arm pushup places weight on the left foot, this puts the core under pressure to stop the spine getting all twisted.

The ladder protocol is easy. Do 1 pull up, drop and do one push up, each arm. Do 2 pull ups, 2 push ups on each arm. Do 3 pull ups…. you get the idea. As soon as you can’t complete a set, start back at 1 pull, 1 push. I varied the intensity over the three training days to avoid over doing it and ensure progress was made.

In no time at all my back started to ease up. The strength built, mainly from the 1 Arm Pushups, was supporting the injury. Mobility started to return and i gently began doing bodyweight squats, then pistol squats.

After about a year of this I switched back to lifting Iron, just to see how I felt. I was stronger than I’d ever been in my life on the overhead press and I deadlifted just short of my previous best, although I could feel the injury warning me not to go any further.

So there you go. My success story with bodyweight only training.

If you want to build a strong body, you have to start with the core, build it from the inside out. Bodyweight does this, it is the purest form of training and the body responds best to it.

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