Today I strained my back attempting a Max Contraction exercise in the gym. It was just last week that I read and reviewed the High Intensity weight training protocol of Max Contraction Training. Even in my review I had a concern with the plan.
The problem I see with Max Contraction Training is that for a few exercises, the weight I can hold for just 1 to 6 seconds is much greater than the weight I can safely lift into maximum contraction position. This is where a trainer or spotter can help.
Instead of using a trainer or spotter, I theorized that I could recruit muscles unrelated to the movement to get into position and then release the weight onto the targeted muscles. That was the theory. I should know better than to attempt MacGyver moves in the free weight room. I guess I needed the spirit Gods of the gym to thwart my arrogance.
Using the seated row machine, I pinned a weight about 20 pounds more than what I weigh. Then using both arms AND my legs, I yanked the weight back. Then I tightened my hold and tried to contract against the weight. I probably should have tried a lighter weight first, as I was unable to hold the weight. Instead of letting go, I exhibited some bad form to gain control of the weight. That tweaked the left side of my lower back.
It didn’t hurt until I got home. I don’t foresee this being a sidelining injury. I’ll probably miss 1 or 2 workouts at most.
Going forward I am going to primarily do the safer Max Pyramid protocol for most of my exercises. I really think you need a skilled trainer to do that protocol safely. I wouldn’t even trust the average spotter.
UPDATE JUNE 2011: This injury turned out to be nothing. To be on the safe side, I delayed my next workout by 3 days. I’ve since lifted a few times with no problems.