Pump It Up: Baby Got Back

It’s easy for the muscles in your back and the hind side of the legs to fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. After all, these areas are not easily visible in the mirror as we evaluate our training progress. However, our backs are of the utmost importance to us drummers because everything we do behind the kit is anchored to the balance and alignment we create with this intricate network of muscles.

Quality back training will strengthen the muscles for better, longer performances, and provide superior conditioning as a preventative measure against injury or strain. So let’s take care of business and avoid any performance-related fatigue or gig-cancelling injuries.

Here are three foundational movements you can do 2—3 times a week to condition your back, backside, and hamstrings (rear leg).

pump it up

Lat Pulldowns: Great for total back development, with emphasis on the large outer muscles, or lats.
1. Grab the cable bar a little wider than shoulder width as you’re sitting down, and secure your legs under the thigh pad.
2. With your back slightly arched and your head tilted back, pull the bar down toward the top of your chest to chin level. Focus on pulling with your back muscles, as opposed to your arms.
3. Slowly return the bar to starting position for one rep.
Work up to three sets of 8—15 reps.

pump it up

Machine Rows: Ideal for mid-back muscles and overall back strength and thickness.
1. Take a seat with your torso against the chest pad, making sure that you can reach the handles.
2. While keeping your chest tight against the pad, pull the handles toward you as far as you comfortably can. Again, focus on pulling with your back muscles, as opposed to your arms.
3. Slowly return the bar to starting position for one rep.
Work up to three sets of 8—15 reps.

pump it up

Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts: Excellent for strengthening the lower back, backside, and hamstrings. (Go super light with these at first!) 1. Stand with a light dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the front of your thighs.
2. While keeping your back and legs straight throughout the movement, slowly bend down at the waist so that the dumbbells are heading toward your feet.
3. Once you reach the mid-shin area, slowly return to the starting position, focusing on pulling with your hamstrings and lower back. Work up to three sets of 8—15 reps.