Mens Health

Training After Herniated Disks

The Giant Killer

By Two-Time 212 Olympia Champion Shaun Clarida

Sponsored by MUTANT

Q: In one of your videos, you mentioned you had disk herniations. How have you rehabbed from that, and how have you modified your exercises to protect your spine?

A: In 2007, I was doing a set of stiff-leg deadlifts with 275 pounds. While going down for rep five or six, I felt a big pop in my lower back. I put the weight down, and it felt very hot all of a sudden in that area. I didn’t think much of it – little tweak in the muscle, no big deal. By the next morning, the pain was so bad I couldn’t put my pants on. I went and got X-rays and an MRI. Two of my disks were herniated. It took a year and a half of chiropractic treatments and rehab to fully heal. I haven’t deadlifted off the floor since then.

There are certain movements I simply can’t do because they put too much stress on my lower back, such as barbell rows. I always say, “There are a million ways to train.” If I want to train my erectors in the lower back, I can do a ton of rack pulls. For heavy rows, I can do those with chest support or use a Smith machine. I hate when people say, “You HAVE to deadlift,” or you have to do this or that exercise. No, you don’t, because not everyone can due to injuries, and not everyone can feel the muscle working on all of the basic movements. Do what works for you and what’s best for you, like I do.

My lower back will never be 100 percent again, and that’s fine. I don’t miss deadlifting. It’s fun to pull all that weight off the floor and it looks cool, but it’s not worth getting injured and going through all that again.

I still get body work done twice a week: deep-tissue massage, Graston, cupping, the whole nine yards. Your body needs to be tuned up and in tip-top working order to get the most from your training. Yes, it can be costly and time-consuming getting these types of treatments/therapies regularly, but I feel it’s a must when you’re beating your body up every day the way we do as hard-training bodybuilders. If the muscles get too tight, blood flow will suffer, and you won’t even be able to get good pumps. Deep tissue and Graston Technique break up the adhesions and improve blood flow in the muscles. It’s also a good insurance policy against injury, because if things get too tight you stand a much greater chance of tearing a muscle.

Overall, the body work improves flexibility and blood flow and will allow you to have a longer career as a bodybuilder. That’s very important for me because I am far from being done!

Natural Before Turning Pro

Q: Please talk about how being a natural competitor for a long time helped you as a pro. I know Jose has spoken about that a bunch, and I would love to hear your take.

A: I’m happy that I did it that way. I was able to build my base of size and strength naturally, and truly maximize my natural potential before using anything. Once I took things to that next level, my body really soaked it all up. I see a lot of the young kids starting on the PEDs route very early, as in ages 16 or 17. If you start that early, you will soon get to a point where your body is all done. If instead you maximize what your body can do naturally, you will go further. I competed naturally from 2005 all the way until 2012. I did very well on the natural circuit, winning many shows including world titles. My body continued to improve all those years, slowly but surely. I truly believe I would never be able to look the way I do today if I hadn’t spent all those years training and competing naturally first. Two great champions who followed a similar path were Ronnie Coleman and Kai Greene. Both turned pro naturally after many years of hard training and learning their bodies, then made fantastic gains once they flipped that switch. I think it’s the best way to go.

Grateful to John Meadows

Q: How did John Meadows influence your training or any other aspects of your life?

A: I wouldn’t be where I am today without what he taught me about proper training, intensity, and just getting after it. You can see it in my training videos now when I’m doing drop sets, cluster sets, or just going into a dark place. We worked together for nearly seven years, basically my whole pro career at that point until he passed so suddenly. He wrote all my training and nutrition programs. John welcomed me in his home as a guest with his wife and two sons, who were his pride and joy. He taught me so much not only about training, but life, business, and being a good family man like he was. I can’t thank him enough and I still miss him and think about him every day.

For Protein, Not a Fish Fan

Q: What’s your favorite and least protein source, and how many ounces do you eat at each meal?

A: My favorite is ground bison, and my least favorite is fish, especially white fish like cod and tilapia. I eat them during prep because I have to. Once the show is over, if I have any left, I throw it away. I typically eat 7 or 8 ounces of fish per meal. Salmon has a different taste and texture and isn’t as “fishy,” so I will eat that in the off-season. Plain white fish is about as appealing as cardboard to me. I get all my food from MegaFit meals, and thankfully they use spices and seasonings to make even a food I’m not a fan of, like tilapia, tasty.

Instagram @shaunclarida

YouTube: Shaun Clarida

Shaun’s MUTANT® Stack



BCAA 9.7







For more information, visit

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By: Team FitRx
Title: Training After Herniated Disks
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Published Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2023 14:27:41 +0000

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