The authors of Foundation, Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park, have helped athletes like Lance Armstrong and celebrities like Jeff Bridges reach new fitness goals by shifting the emphasis of their core training from the abs to the back of their bodies, the posterior chain of muscles that support the spine, creating renewed strength and flexibility and eliminating back pain. Here, they show you how to do the same.

WEEK 1: CHANGE THE WAY YOU MOVE YOUR BACK
During Week 1 you'll do a 15-minute routine every morning using three exercises: the founder, the lunge stretch, and the back extension. Do 4 sets of each. Before bed each night, go through 1 additional—very slow—set. Take your time and breathe deeply during each exercise; this is about learning and mastering new movements.

TIP 1:
Eat a big breakfast—don't skimp on the most important meal of the day.
TIP 2:
Refuel right. Post-workout meals should be high in protein and include moderate amounts of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Think roasted chicken with asparagus or salmon and a green salad.
TIP 3:
Walk to lunch a few times this week. Stand tall, swing your arms when you walk, and keep your chest high.
TIP 4:
Get aligned. See a physical therapist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, or an acupuncturist. Bodies feel better with proper alignment. Seek treatments that focus on the whole body and not just a particular area of pain.
TIP 5:
Break the back-pocket habit: Don't sit on your wallet. You don't make more money having it back there, and it can disrupt posture and cause back pain.

EXERCISE 1:

The Founder (15-second holds)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent. Keep your spine straight and lean forward slightly. Reach back with your arms, hold. Lift your arms above your head, hold. Bend down and touch the ground, hold. Press your hands against your shins and look up, hold. Hands up to your knees, hold. Reach back again, hold. Reach up, hold.
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EXERCISE 2:

The Lunge Stretch
Get into a long lunge position and raise your hands above your head. Lean your torso to the right, hold for 45 seconds, and repeat to the left side.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 3:

Back Extension
Lie on your stomach with your face two inches off the ground and your arms above your head. Pull your elbows to the center of your back. Do 12 reps.
Click here for the video

•••

WEEK 2: LENGTHEN YOUR BACK
This week you will tackle 4 rounds of 5 exercises each day. The two additional exercises are the windmill and the squat. If you feel fatigued or too tight or are simply too busy, rest one day. And if you also have another exercise regimen, like running or weights, be sure to use this training as your warm-up.

TIP 1:
Break up your routine. While seated, press your heels into the ground. Sit up as tall as possible and lift both arms above your head. Look up. Reach your arms as high as you can and take 8 forceful deep breaths. Repeat frequently throughout the day.
TIP 2:
Learn a new stretch. Walk up a long hill and keep your chest as high as possible and stick your butt out a bit. Try to walk with your arms stretched up above your head for 30 seconds at a time to lengthen the spine.
TIP 3:
Prevent inflammation with food. Anti-inflammatory foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, grass-fed animal products, nuts, and spices (turmeric is tops).

EXERCISE 1:

The Founder (15-second holds)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent. Keep your spine straight and lean forward slightly. Reach back with your arms, hold. Lift your arms above your head, hold. Bend down and touch the ground, hold. Press your hands against your shins and look up, hold. Hands up to your knees, hold. Reach back again, hold. Reach up, hold.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 2:

The Lunge Stretch
Get into a long lunge position and raise your hands above your head. Lean your torso to the right, hold for 45 seconds, and repeat to the left side.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 3:

Back Extension
Lie on your stomach with your face two inches off the ground and your arms above your head. Pull your elbows to the center of your back. Do 12 reps.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 4:

The Windmill
Begin in the founder starting position. Raise your arms above your head and hold for 15 seconds. Twist your torso to the right until your left hand touches the ground. Raise your left hand to the sky. Switch sides and repeat 3 rotations.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 5:

The Squat
Extend your arms forward and squat until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Keep your back straight and butt pushed out. Do 15 reps.
Click here for the video

•••

WEEK 3: BUILD BACK STRENGTH
Every day this week should begin with 50 back extensions. Break them up however you like. You'll continue to do the previous weeks' exercises on three days. On those days the workout will be 4 rounds of the following: the founder (hold each position for 30 seconds); the squat (20 reps); the windmill (5 rotations per side); the lunge stretch (30 seconds each side); and you'll add a new move, the plank (30 to 45 seconds).

TIP 1:
Cut out processed foods. They clog your digestive tract, which can cause back pain. Don't avoid fat. Essential fats actually help you lose weight. The right kind of fat is like WD-40 for your body. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, almonds, and flaxseed.
TIP 2:
If you experience digestive issues, get tested for gluten intolerance; indigestion as a result of this allergy can cause joint and back pain.

EXERCISE 1:

Back Extension
Lie on your stomach with your face two inches off the ground and your arms above your head. Pull your elbows to the center of your back. Do 50 reps.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 2:

The Founder (30-second holds)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent. Keep your spine straight and lean forward slightly. Reach back with your arms, hold. Lift your arms above your head, hold. Bend down and touch the ground, hold. Press your hands against your shins and look up, hold. Hands up to your knees, hold. Reach back again, hold. Reach up, hold. Do 4 rounds.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 3:

The Squat
Extend your arms forward and squat until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Keep your back straight and butt pushed out. Do 20 reps.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 4:

The Windmill
Begin in the founder starting position. Raise your arms above your head and hold for 15 seconds. Twist your torso to the right until your left hand touches the ground. Raise your left hand to the sky. Switch sides and repeat 5 rotations.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 5:

The Lunge Stretch
Get into a long lunge position and raise your hands above your head. Lean your torso to the right, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat to the left side.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 6:

The Plank
Get in push-up start position. Walk your hands forward six inches. Drop your hips slightly and hold for 30 seconds, pressing your heels down as far as you can.
Click here for the video

•••

WEEK 4: BACK TO THE BASICS
After 3 weeks, not only should your back be pain-free, but your spine should be strong and well protected. For the last week, you will turn your focus to just 4 of the exercises each day: the founder, the windmill, the lunge, and the plank. But you'll make them more challenging—tips on doing so follow below. Do 3 rounds of each move.

TIP 1:
Drink a lot of water. Focus on this first thing in the morning, so other tasks during the day can't distract you. Drink 1 liter before 10 a.m. and 2 liters if you start your day with coffee or tea.
TIP 2:
Try a yoga class.
TIP 3:
Eat snacks between meals to increase energy. Forget the cookies, crackers, and candy and instead focus on high-energy foods to feel satiated longer—snacks with a low glycemic index with healthy fats are best.
TIP 4:
Spend 10 full minutes lying on your back with a pillow under your knees. You should keep your arms stretched way back over your head to lengthen your abs, taking deep, slow breaths.

EXERCISE 1:

The Founder Redux
Increase to 30 seconds in each position. Also: Reach deeper, push harder, and breathe slower.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 2:

The Windmill Redux
Increase to 10 rotations per side, keeping your hips as far back as possible.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 3:

Lunge Stretch Redux
Do 1 minute on each side to lengthen hip flexors and abs as much as possible.
Click here for the video

EXERCISE 4:

Plank Redux
Hold for 45 to 60 seconds with your body as rigid as possible.
Click here for the video