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I just started doing strong lifts 5x5 program and am paranoid about hurting myself. I am almost 300 lbs, and haven't done much exercise other than walking for the past long as I can remember. I was having some problems achieving the correct squat depth, but today I was able to get down low enough. I am still only squatting the bar as I want to make sure I get my form correct before adding weight. Today I felt fine while and during the squats, but when i later got to the barbell rows I felt a twinge in my lower back. I decided not to finish my sets, because I don't want to hurt myself, but I need to know a few things.

A. Is having some lower back pain expected when doing this kind of stuff? B. Is it possible the lower back pain was caused by barbell row form or is it more likely that it was from improper squat form? C. If my back is hurting how long should I wait to try again?

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tons of reverse hyperextensions... i believe you body is going through a severe adaptation phase with squatting. this happens to everyone, even professional athletes. lower back pain/tightness typically happens after the first 3-6 week cycle in a prolonged period of rest from squatting in many athletes (by prolonged i mean 6-8 weeks and typically the squatting is over 315pounds for a basic 5x6-8 starting cycle) –  Pancho Villa Aug 2 '12 at 5:48

3 Answers 3

Between this post and the prior one asking for 5x5 squat help, I strongly recommend seeing a qualified personal trainer and also your Dr. for a physical prior to any more exercising. Based on your posts, you're overweight, out of shape and do not have a background in weightlifting: this is a combination that could get you SERIOUSLY injured. Stop, get a check up, get a trainer a nutritionist and then move on. Your current approach will not get you where you want to be.

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x2 on this. For people just starting into fitness, the first stop should always be the doc to make sure it's safe for you. –  JohnP Aug 1 '12 at 18:41
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@Sancho While I don't think a doctor is the right person to go to, it's entirely possible for people to hurt themselves in the early stages of a 3x5 or 5x5 barbell program. There is no assurance that the OP is doing the exercises even remotely correctly, which could lead to injury despite following the protocol to the best of his ability. A coach, personal trainer, physical therapist, doctor or friend familiar with the lifts could all be extremely helpful in avoiding bad form and injury. –  Dave Liepmann Aug 1 '12 at 19:22
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@Sancho I'd say serious injury is totally possible. I did SS in my basement (with deloads and focusing on form as best I could, all that jazz) and my squats got to the mid-200s before I realized my form was a back injury waiting to happen, due to a video form check with a friend. –  Dave Liepmann Aug 1 '12 at 19:51
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Add to that, the OP is 300 lbs, which already puts a squat in the 180+ lb range, add an Oly bar and you're over 200 lbs. –  JohnP Aug 1 '12 at 20:16
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@user3939 That's good! I was in the same boat--I read the book three times and was getting video form checks left and right. In-person form checks by knowledgeable people (not random gym rats) were an order of magnitude more helpful. fitness.stackexchange.com/a/4355/1771 –  Dave Liepmann Aug 1 '12 at 21:03

You shouldn't feel a twinge during the movement, but your back may feel sore after workouts. You'll need to learn to distinguish between injury (strains, pulls, tendinitis, etc.) from delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS (see http://fitness.stackexchange.com/a/7450/3085). As a beginner, you probably don't know the difference yet. My advice right now would be to wait until your back feels 100% before working out again, sticking to stretching, massaging where it hurts, and practicing bodyweight or broomstick form. If it is just simple muscle soreness, it should feel better in a few days, and it won't feel as sore after each new workout (eventually, you won't feel DOMS).

About this particular instance, since you felt a twinge while doing the row, I suspect it was the row that was the final cause of this. But, your back may have been weakened from the squats, leaving it susceptible to any form errors on the row. If your lower back was rounded during the squat (incorrect form), the two could have combined together to cause this pain.

I like that you're spending some time with just the empty bar. The weight you're moving right now is not enough to injure you badly, but will still let you know about bad form.

To help correct form errors, you could have an experienced friend who is doing the same program as you watch your form. Or you could take a video and upload it to the stronglifts or some other forum (including here) to ask for advice.

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For other people experiencing this same issue who can't or don't want to receive help from a personal trainer -

I was experiencing the same issue after squats - a sharp lower back pain that seemed to get worse if I drove for long periods of time or sat down at work all day. The thing that has helped me the most is stretching or rolling out my hip flexors pre and post workout. I've done a lot of research about this particular subject and it seems that if you aren't stretching out your hip flexors enough then it could definitely cause lower back pain.

Check out this article.

Hip Flexor Stretches

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