This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
As the winner of Max Muscle’s ‘Best Back in America’ contest, Victoria Adelus, 28, of Bend, Oregon shares how she struggled with degenerative disc disease and overcame the pain to compete on stage.
By Victoria Adelus
bout 80 percent of the American population is affected by back pain at some time in their lives. When I was young, I wasn’t worried about this alarming statistic. As an athletic child, you feel invincible. I was a gymnast, a horse vaulter, a track athlete and an avid snowboarder throughout my youth. When I finished high school and started college, I began Muay Thai kickboxing and I later decided to prepare for my first full marathon. If there was an activity that produced a massive amount of adrenaline, you could guarantee I wanted to participate. Fast forward to 2006. I was only a couple of weeks away from race day for my first marathon. I had two half marathons under my belt and I felt ready. I was running 15 to 17 miles at a time. However, one day while running, my back began to hurt with every step. I didn't want to give up despite the sharp twinge in my lower spine because I believed it was probably a normal ache that comes with the training. I continued training despite my pain, until one day, my entire left leg went numb. I finally realized I couldn’t put off a trip to the doctor’s office any longer. An MRI revealed that a disc in my lower spine had herniated, and it was pinching my sciatic nerve to the point where nerve damage would potentially be permanent if I didn’t do something about it. I was also told I had degenerative disc disease. The next few years were filled with ups and downs. Telling athletes they can’t be active affects them more than just physically. My diagnosis began to seep into my soul. I decided not to go the surgical route, and instead took the long way around. I went through months of physical therapy, epidural steroid injections,
yoga, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. You name it, I tried it. During that time, I got my personal training certification and read numerous books to get a better understanding of back pain. It was a long healing process and one that taught me a lot about myself. There were of course times when I doubted that I would ever be able to exercise again, but sure enough, I proved that my injury was just a speed bump in the road. For more than a year I was barely able to move without pain, and I am now proud to say that I’m a national-level NPC fitness competitor doing back flips on stage. I’m very proud of my journey. Winning Max Muscle’s Best Back in America contest symbolized my road to recovery. The contest allowed everything to come full circle, and it signifies how hard I worked to get where I am today. I was blown away by the amount of votes I received from my local community and beyond. It truly showed me that when you believe in yourself and have the support of others behind you, anything is possible. Thank you to my loved ones, friends, medical care providers and sponsors for always having my back and thank you to those who voted and helped me win such an incredible achievement award. What does my story have to do with this back workout? Obviously, a lot. As a personal trainer and boot camp instructor/ owner, I make it my mission to help others strengthen their backs and their core. Building a strong back is essential in keeping your spine healthy and preventing injuries like the one I suffered. Stretching daily, practicing relaxation through massage or yoga is also important in maintaining general health and preventing injury. You only have one body, take care of it! MS&F
Photos: Dan Ray Photography Gym: The Spa at Glenpointe, Teaneck NJ
VictoriA’s BAck Workout
I like to train my back twice a week and I schedule each workout at least three to four days apart for adequate recovery. I usually try to incorporate different exercises each time I train in an effort to always keep my body guessing. This workout includes my routine on a heavy back training day. When lifting heavy weight, I aim for eight to 12 repetitions with about 30 to 45 seconds of rest in between sets and I try to hit three to four sets per exercise. I also incorporate at least one core movement and lower back exercise into my back workout routine. Developing a strong core is essential for overall back health.
PLank: Lie on the floor and slowly push PuLL-uP: I like to alternate between wide grip pull-ups and close
grip pull-ups to engage different muscles within my back. As a fitness competitor, I need to focus on both the thickness and width of my back, and switching between these two types of pull-ups allows me to accomplish this. For regular pull-ups, begin with your hands beyond shoulder-width apart. Pull your body up to the bar until your chin reaches the height of your hands. Lower your body until your arms are fully extended. For close grip pull-ups (pictured above far left), position hands inside shoulder-width, palms facing each other and repeat the above steps. Muscles used: latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, middle and upper trapezius Begin by gripping the bar and placing your hands slightly beyond shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar down toward your chest while keeping your posture straight and head forward. Limit severe arching of your back and keep your shoulders down. Hold for one second at your chest and then slowly release. Note: start with two high-repetition warm-up sets, and then begin your working sets. Muscles used: latissimus dorsi
yourself up off the ground using your forearms and toes for support. Keep your stomach pulled in toward your spine, and hold for at least 30 seconds. If the plank gives you any back pain, modify this movement by performing this exercise on your knees. Make sure you keep your back straight, and do not allow your hips to lift or your back to sway. Muscles used: erector spinae, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, obliques
Lat PuLL down: Sit upright with your stomach drawn in.
Seated Low CabLe Row: Using a v-bar
bent oveR baRbeLL Row: Bend over at the hips while keeping your back straight, chest out and shoulders back. Hold the bar with an underhand grip. Pull the bar toward your waist and belly button. Return the bar to your starting position until your arms are fully extended and shoulders stretched. Muscles used: middle trapezius, rhomboids
Place one hand and knee on a bench for support and one leg on the floor. Grab the dumbbell with the opposite hand and pull it up to your side, just above your torso. Slowly return the arm down until it is extended and shoulders are stretched. Finish repetitions and then switch sides. Muscles used: latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, middle trapezius
attachment, begin this movement with your feet on the platform and back straight. Pull the bar/ cable toward your belly button while pulling your shoulders back, pushing your chest forward and steadily arching your back. Slowly release the bar until your arms are extended and shoulders are slightly stretched forward. Muscles used: middle trapezius, rhomboids I also like to include lower back and core exercises during my workout as this helps me maintain a healthy spine from top to bottom. Position your heels under the pads used to anchor your feet into the piece of equipment. Keep your stomach tight while bringing your shoulder blades back, and lower your upper torso toward the floor. Slowly bring your torso back up while squeezing your lower back and glutes, keeping your posture straight and chest out. Muscles used: erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings
bent-oveR dumbbeLL Row:
baCk extenSion: When I train my back,
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.