Monday, July 18, 2011

Prehab work made easy

So my theme for the next few weeks will continue to revolve around staying healthy, which is the foundation for consistency.  If you are injured, and can't train a movement, that movement falls to the wayside.  Practice of a moment is still the best way to get better at that movement, and by better I mean, getting stronger.

Weird Movement Gurus = Fucktards

My main issue the last few years actually just boils down to my legs.  I've torn my adductors and strained my vastus medialis fairly often squatting.  Other than that I really stay healthy.  My elbows get achy sometimes, as does my pec minors, but that's from having a permanent AC separation in my left shoulder.  So I am not physiologically correct in alignment.  There isn't anything that can be done for this, so I don't worry about it.  I just manage my movements to avoid the least amount of pain.  I have found that when I can't close grip bench (more on that later) that I can incline.  And for whatever reason, if my incline goes up, usually my close grip does as well.  I will not try to understand this at all.  I will just appreciate it.

So basically after dealing with straining my adductors over and over I decided to get serious about strengthening them.  I was told I needed to do all sorts of shit like lunges on a box and add a band for this and I said fuck no.  I got on the leg adductor machine (you know, because it works your fucking adductors?) and went to town.  Turns out, my groin and adductors were weak.  Who knew?  I could barely do 10-12 reps with 80 pounds.  Over the course of the next few months I worked up to close to the whole stack (150) for sets of 10.  No more straining adductors during warm ups or even with near max attempts.

It turns out that what gave next was my vastus medialis.  Now of course, after the adductor strain I didn't even bother to read.  I knew everyone who say that leg extensions were worthless.  I read this same shit about the adductor machine.  And BTW, you know who used the shit out of the adductor machine in his Godly prime?  Ed Coan.  Anyway, some retarded training guru will say that leg extensions are worthless for strengthening the VMO.  This honestly flies in the face of all common sense.  The last 20-30 degrees of ROM in the leg extension, the vastus works its nuts off (if the vastus had nuts, I mean).  The last 20 degrees is a staple in the PT's office for people post knee surgery.

So I will be keeping in the good girl machine, and adding in leg extensions to keep my legs healthy.  I don't need some unorthodox movement to do this.

I've heard the same shit for leg curls.  That the hip extension isn't involved so the leg curl isn't worth a shit for hamstring strengthening.

I also want to be clear here that in the past in dealing with injuries, some of the help I have sought out turned out to be such bunk because what would always end up being the "fix" was something simple that I already knew.  Eventually I caught on that the only thing these weird movements fix, is making you good at weird movements.

Anyone ever pulled a hamstring running?  It's basically the same damn motion.  The foot hits the ground, and the hamstring contracts to propel you forward.  The same motion is used in a leg curl.  Guess what movement you can't do when you strain your hammy?  Yeah, a fucking leg curl.  I was still able to do good mornings and stiff legs with a strained hamstring, but I could barely do anything on the leg curl.  Seems like a decent way to strengthen the hamstring.

Back to my close grip benching, this has saved my shoulders.  I do almost no pre-hab work for my shoulders and I really do think it's all due to moving my grip in a couple of years ago.  Me shoulders have never had a problem because of benching.  It's better in my opinion, to shave off a few pounds on your bench and not be injured or nursing an injury, than to bench more but not be able to bench consistently.  This should be obvious.

So with that said, we can do a run down of some common issues and some real "common sense" exercises to keep in the mix to prevent it.

Leg PreHab

  • Quads - Leg Extensions, Lunges
  • Adductors - Adductor Machine
  • IT Band and Glute Medius and Piriformis - Abductor Machine and 1 legged squats
Shoulder and Pec PreHab

  • Lying External Rotation or Seated External Rotation (I prefer these because it locks in the elbow)
  • Front Raises (suspraspinatus)
  • Shoulder Dislocates
  • Flat and Incline Db Flyes

Low back pain and/or Strains (including piriformis which is usually the cause of most "low back pain")

  • Hypers
  • Piriformis stretch 


You can easily incorporate all of these into your routine without much hassle.  Just do the big, main movement.  Then follow that up with some of the prehab work.

Just to add a few suggestions and some things to remember.....

On machine you can push the loading harder than on something like dumbbell flyes.  But you still don't want to be smashing the god damn weights up and down all over the place.  Slow negative, explosive positive.  That's how it should be.  On a movement like db flyes, remember what you are using them for.  To prevent pec strains and tears.  Don't end up overloading so much so that the db flye actually causes the problem it is trying to prevent.  That's going full retard.  I use sets of 20 on them and go light with a controlled movement.  Same thing for the external rotation stuff.

If you've had problem or want to avoid problems with injuries in the future, be mindful of where you have had little knick knacks and get shit corrected before it puts you down.


  1. Good information. Why not do prehab exercises all over the body to try to avoid injuries ahead of time?

  2. Because you still have to lift weights. These are based on the majority of injuries you see from lifters.

  3. Broke my leg. VMO went to shit astonishingly fast. Ended up getting that bad patella tracking thing. Physios told me to do low box step ups, 1/8 squats holding cans of beans (really), peterson step ups, forward lunges reverse lunges, VMO band extensions and double banded 1/8 squats holding a swiss ball between my legs. Then they gave up. Then I turned my legs out slightly on the leg extension and worked the final 20 - 30 degrees of motion. Guess what happened?

  4. Paul,

    I have been doing all my pressing with my wrist bent backward and thought this was normal till recently. How do I correct this?

  5. If you are meaning with a thumb around grip, I personally couldn't tell you. I use a thumbless grip on all pressing movements and it puts me in a stronger position.

    One thing you could do is this - Grab the bar like you are going to use a thumbless grip. This should put your wrists in the proper position, i.e. directly under the bar. Then wrap the thump around and try to maintain that position.

  6. I've never had shoulder issues but wondering if/when I should ever bring by bench grip closer. I have long arms and just try to keep an average grip, not super wide to reduce ROM or anything.

  7. If it's not "wide" I wouldn't sweat it too much. Usually the guys who have shoulder issues are the guys that are really wide out there, trying to limit ROM.

  8. Hi paul, pls help me out here regarding pl meets. Taking part in my first meet, how do i warm up in btwn the weigh-in and the actual start? Its a 2hr wait for that and i need to eat something. Do i down a couple of shakes or eat a normal solid meal? Thks.

  9. I viewed the Dave Tate video the other day about five things you might be doing wrong on your bench. I was 2 for 5! The guy earlier who talked about letting your wrists bend back to being parallel to your body was the #1 mistake (which i did). They said on the video to try and keep your hand lined up with your forearm or perpendicular to your body if you will. It really helped I feel like i have a more solid base. My question is now I'm thinking I am touching too high on my chest. When I practice I touch my sternum but I think i come closer to the nipples when the weight gets really heavy? Any ques to help fix that or the wrists being bent back? I also was squatting in running shoes which I hear is borderline retarded also so I will appologize up front for the simpleton question. (I'm switching to chuck taylors for wed's squat session). Thanks Paul! Great blog, you are a great inspiration to continue going heavy!

    Sam (Also when posting it seems like i always have to select anonymous, my google didn't seem to work?)

  10. Depends on what flight you are in. If you are in the first flight they will tell you when to start warming up.

    If you are in the second flight, you can start warm ups about the time the last attempts for the previous flight starts.

    As far as eating goes, I eat a good breakfast but I don't have a lot of nerves. Some guys get nervous and throw up. I've never had that problem. But aside from that, I just eat something I normally eat, like a sandwich with some potato chips (stay bloated!) and then snack on something like raisin bread throughout the meet.

    You'll get the hang of the timing as the meet goes on, so really, don't sweat it. There will be plenty of people to help you out. Once you have done the work, just go lift. Grab a bite to eat when you are hungry. Make sure you bring someone with you to do these kinds of things as well. Otherwise you'll be worried over shit you don't need to worry about.

    Good luck!

  11. My problems cleared up! No more pain! Of course, it was probably something else. No real results could possibly originate from something so "non-functional".

  12. Hi Paul, thanks for the blog, swarm of good information here. I want to ask your opinion on the following: according to your advices above, I satrted to include the good girl/bad girl machine after my lower body workouts and they have proven that they are useful for me as I have relatively long legs and knees moving inwards during squats has been always a problem for me. Now this disappeared, my only concern remained that how to progress with these machines? The maximum weight on both the machines is 60 kg, I went to 4x15 to 2x30 per session. In your opinion, how should I program them to remain effective? Should I slow down reps? Should I increase volume? Thanks a lot and sorry for my English, I am the guy who regularly appear here from Hungary (Central Europe ;) ). Greetings, Tibor

    1. Yo ucan add a plate to the stack if it allows. Just get an extra pin and a 25 or 45 pound plate. Put the first pin in the whole stack, then use the second pin to attach the 25/45 whatever.

      If that won't work, hold the contraction portion of the rep for a 5 count.

    2. OK, I will give it a try, thanks, Paul. Cheers, t.