Saturday, September 21, 2013

More on injury avoidance

If you train long enough, it's not about IF you get injured, but WHEN. During those junctures you will need to do your best to come to an understanding of how it is you are now currently in that place.

When I was younger, I loved doing skull crushers. They were my favorite triceps movement.

"You mean elbow killers?" is what the "old lifters" used to tell me.

I argued vehemently that I had been training for 10 years, and that my elbows had never bothered me a day in my life, and that I knew it all.

My elbows are a constant problem now, and I cannot bench or press without wraps, most of the time.

Thankfully, I was indeed smart enough to listen to older lifters most other times they offered me up gems. Like doing all of my work beltess, not trying to squat wide, resting more, etc.

When I see Ernie Lilliebridge Sr. we constantly talk about the fact that, it's not so much about the strength anymore, it's getting through training cycles unscathed. Staying healthy is the biggest factor in being consistent and making continued progress.

Some areas I feel guys ignore, that they will indeed pay for later are a few -

1. Wide stance raw squatting - This one gets some guys up in arms. And yes, some guys can squat wide for a long time with no issues, just like some guys can do skull crushers without ever having elbow pain. However I believe they are exceptions. Eventually most people will find their hips cannot take wide stance squats, and will need to move their stance in. I know, you'll milk it for all it's worth now. The problem with that mentality is, much like my elbows, is that it become something you still end up having to account for. Take the ego hit and move you stance in before you are FORCED to.

2. Pushing through when fatigued - Being in the physical/strength culture means you need to act like a man. And a "real man" pushes through and still trains and all that. Yes, that is true sometimes. I've had plenty of nights where I felt tired as shit going into the gym, and then had a +10% session. In fact, it's not uncommon. However, I'm pretty good now and assessing if I'm tired because it's late in the day, or if I'm "fatigued". Fatigued meaning, my body needs rest, recovery, sleep, food, etc. Tired is just the "present state" of being. Fatigue is a factor involved in recovery (though being tied is a symptom of fatigue yes, don't fucking split hairs here).

This one takes a bit of introspection. It has nothing to do "being a pussy" and everything to do with understanding how your body responds to stimulus and stress. I have a few options here....I go into the gym anyway, and I start training. I can tell within a few warm ups, if I was just "tired". I can also tell if I am "fatigued". If it's the former, I train. If it's the latter, I leave, and go rest. It's that simple. I just switch training to the next night.

3. Training too heavy all the time - For the ego lifter. My facebook newsfeed is constantly filled with updates weekly about dudes that I know train heavy ALL THE TIME, and they are injured OFTEN. That or it's the same guys that can't ever hit in the meet, what they hit in the gym. It's the same guys that are constantly doing heavy singles and doubles. I just don't know what happened to building strength, and understanding the importance of building a base through sub max training and having weeks of 8's and 5's for a LONG time.

Put the ego on the back burner for a while and make a point to understand the relevance of building strength and not trying to be a youtube champion.

4. Dehydration - Seems obvious. You need to be hydrated to lift well, and not get injured. However most people drink enough diuretic drinks to negate a lot of the water they take in during the day. Not only that, they add stims to their pre-workout cocktail, and this further adds to setting the stage for injury. Cut back on the caffeine and stims, and up the water intake 2 hours before lifting.

5. Imbalances - Bodybuilders don't suffer from this as much because well, they understand the need for filling out the entire musculature. Too many powerlifters are caught up in worrying about what god damn band they need to use and the tension it's supplying to a lift rather than doing REAL bodybuilding style work. Similar to my rant about too many guys thinking band pull aparts is back work, every strength athlete should spend a certain amount of time in the "offseason" devoted to developing his physique and filling in all of the muscular "gaps". 1 legged work, cuff work, rear delt work, arm work, leg curls, etc and higher rep work should be a part of the yearly plan. Not just doing some doubles and triples. Every phase should build on the next. And if you go into a peaking stage a bigger you from the previous time, you'll be a stronger you as well.


  1. Good stuff. #2 is something I struggle with at times but I'm slowly realizing that the world wont end if I push my training a day forward lol.

    Btw, I hit some nice rep PR's and "bar speed" PR's using your base building principles this summer Paul (most signicant being 25lbs on my best set of 8 on squats). Now I'm trying to put it altogether with the Strong-15 in preparation for my meet. SLL has been a huge help in my training as well as all the info on the blog, thanks dude!

  2. Does a wide stance squat pound the adductors after a while as well? Seems like moving the stance in would help, but I'm straining them all the time now. The weird thing is they feel better at 400+ than 225-315 range.

  3. Was going really heavy for the past 1.5 months cause I was milking everything and guess what i injured myself. Both elbows hurt and both shoulders got banged up. Took 2 weeks off of lifting, iced bad areas, took naproxen, did ehab exercises, and went back to the gym few days ago and programmed light. I thought the squat bar was going to pop off my back it was that fucking fast. Amazing what a little rest can do. Elbows and shoulders feel great now.

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