Saturday, August 15, 2015


Part II of a continuing saga.  These are lessons that took a few years under the iron to finally click with me.

-“There are only so many ways to lift a weight.”  I was always searching for the next great movement that was going to take me to a whole new level.  First, it was the shocking discovery of “the big 3”, sure to make me huge and strong.  Then, it was the Olympic lifts, definitely the thing I needed to become explosive.  But of course, I couldn’t forget weighted dips, the classic standby of Pat Casey.  And what about handstand push-ups?  I mean, Goku did those, and he was a beast.  I couldn’t forget about upside down suspended sit-ups either, and the ox-lift, and farmer’s carries, and…and…

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you had to know this was coming

At one point, after trying a large selection of lifts, I finally settled in to a handful that always give me results.  The reality is that, at some point, you just need to pick something and lift a weight.  There are a million ways to squat, but they all do the same thing: train the posterior chain.  People have this idea that somehow the back squat won’t train the quads at all and the front squat won’t develop strong hamstrings, but it’s all just squatting.  It’s the same with rows, with pressing, with curls, etc.  When you boil it all down, you’re just moving your body through a plane of motion being resistance by some manner of weight, so find your staples, hit them hard, and don’t get distracted by something shiny and new when you’re making progress.

-“If you get hurt, stop the training session.”  The worst thing in the world for my young trainee self was to get injured during a training session.  My progression had already been mapped out for months, and I knew exactly when I was going to hit certain lifts, and an injury just RUINED the whole plan.  Most times, the most obvious “solution” was to just keep lifting through the session, in the hopes that I’d still get in the reps I need, and maybe next week I’d actually be healed and good to go.

Nothing a little Motrin won't fix

That’s so stupid.  When the injury happens, it’s time to stop, no matter where I was in the session.  It was a warm-up rep?  Shut it down.  I only have 2 sets left?  Go home.  I’ve been lifting for 15 years, there will always be more time to train.  In the grand scheme of things, a week or 2 of missed/bad workouts is so inconsequential to overall progress, but meanwhile, pressing on with an obvious injury with the exact same workload that I would perform while healthy is just going to make me weaker.  This is one of the hardest ones for me to do still, but I at least KNOW it’s right now.

-“You can’t outrest an injury.”  I know this seems like it contrasts with the above, but stick with me.  AFTER getting injured, my usual approach was to get really mopey, assume my lifting career was over, and not do anything until I felt “healed”.  This would take MONTHS, and usually, as soon as I tried to lift again, I’d feel the pain and freak out.  Many of you are aware that I took 3 years off of deadlifting with this approach, just waiting for my back to feel “better”.

I'm sure I'll be ready to deadlift next year!
Now, I know that, though you gotta shut it down during the workout that you GOT hurt, the next thing you need to do is get back into the gym ASAP and do SOMETHING.  And usually, the “something” you gotta do is the exact same movement you got hurt on.  Now, I’m not an idiot: I don’t just slap on the old weight and go for the same set as before, but I will use light weights, reverse bands, bodyweights, etc etc.  I’ve learned that, if you give an injury a chance to rest, it stays injured.  It sees no need to GET better, because it’s finally getting some time off.  You have trained your body to believe that, when injuries occur, it’s time to retire that bodypart. With my current approach, I train my body to understand that the injured bodypart NEEDS to be better soon, because we’re going to still keep using it.  With this approach, I have rapidly bounced back from injuries, with my most recent one being a severe hamstring pull wherein I was back to running with a heavy yoke in 1 week, back to squatting my old poundages in 3 weeks, and back to my full volume of lower body work in 4 weeks total.  I had suffered this exact same injury back in 2011 and took 8 MONTHS to recover from it because I treated it like an idiot.  Once I quit rested and started training again, it healed much faster.

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