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Answers to Common Training Qs #1

I’ve been experiencing lower back pain, what should I do? Go to a qualified physio/physical therapist with a good reputation, and ideally one who actually does some lifting themselves. Don't listen to people who tell you not to train. Do NOT take advice about injuries from anonymous people on the internet. Outside of that, most people who come to me with back pain find it resolves quickly after 1) learning correct technique, 2) strengthening the back, and 3) integrating some kind of a mobility routine into their week.

What's the best exercise for core strength? Honestly, probably the deadlift. People are always amazed when I say this, but consider this: the main purpose of your abdominals is to provide stability to your spine, particularly during movement. I can't think of any exercise where maintaining a stable spine is more important than the deadlift, as it's the most load you'll put through your spine.

I want to lose bodyfat but also maintain as much muscle and strength as possible. What do I do? First, I'd strongly recommend you figure out if this is really what you want to do. If the goal is to look jacked, it's always better to get strong and pack on some mass first. Going on a premature cut will just make you weak and skinny. If you're already strong, then it's a matter of creating a small calorie deficit, and taking your time. I'd also recommend gradually adding in conditioning if you're not already doing it. To avoid losing muscle mass, keep up lifting and eat plenty of protein. Above all: patience.

What supplements should I be taking? You don't have to take anything. Plenty of people got big and strong long before supplements were invented (see above photo). A good diet will take you > 95% of the way to where you want to be. If you still want to take supplements, creatine and caffeine are about the only ones with solid evidence behind them. If you need it for convenience sake, whey protein is useful, but nothing magic. Majority of the rest is marketing bullshit.

I've been training for a while but my progress has stalled. What do I do? This is almost always something to do with what you're doing outside the gym. The number one culprit, in my experience, is poor nutrition. Sleep is also a major consideration if you're not getting at least 7 hours per night. This is assuming you're following some kind of a logical programme. Going into the gym and doing random shit is a big no-no if you want long term progress.

I want to get stronger, but I'm also trying to get my 5k time down. I've also recently started playing some football again. How can I get better at all three? You can't. The man who chases two rabbits catches neither. Three is a pipe dream. Nothing wrong with doing two or three things, but trying to get good at them all at the same time is unlikely to work. Pick a goal, attack it with 100% of your focus, and just try to maintain the other aspects of your training. Well, that's probably enough for one email. Remember, if you want a question answered, email it over to me and I'll be happy to answer it in a future one of these. In Strength, Cill

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