As commonly said, strength is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s years that make you strong, not three good months then sitting on the couch trying to rehab a bad groin.
To make sure you keep on, we are going over the most common injuries and how to avoid them in the first place.
That sore hip/glute flare-up to one side
This happens a lot if you fire out of the hole with the bar wonky. You see lots of people with the bar not straight from set one.
We can not emphasise this enough, if your mobility is asymmetric, you will not squat symmetric.
If you have had an ankle, hip or knee injury on one side this will cause an issue. If you have done a side dominant sport (almost every sport) this may cause an issue.
- Film your top sets and occasionally warmups. If something is uneven, it’s your only priority to fix it.
- Chill in the bottom of a squat with the bar (or bar and a pair of plates if you are a big dude) and let your body open up before going heavier
- Stretch the tighter of your glutes, hammies, quads, calves, ankles, shoulders until its even
I had an ankle injury (a simple ankle roll) that ended up causing a stack of injuries when I fired out of a hole uneven. This was a hard lesson to learn.
Training is more important than recovery
It’s very easy to get fixated on the hours you slept, the latest gadget and the number of grams of protein you ate. None of those things matter if you are not creating enough stress during your training sessions.
In the vast majority of training stalls, you need more stress, not less. Your body has become very adapted at lifting and becomes a real jerk to coerce to do more.
The exceptions to this are
- Newbies and coming back after a layoff, where it’s very easy to outwork your body
- Work stress destroying you
- Relationship stress destroying you
Remember, stress accumulates over time, but training only stress is normally recoverable. You are far better off erring on the side of hard work and having a planned deload week every 8-10 weeks, then leaving sets behind at the gym.
- Plan training blocks that add stress every week, then deload after 8-10
- Try not to obsess about things you can’t control
- Understand that you are a system built to recover from stress and nutrition is not locked into a 24 hour period. If you eat bad one day, eat better the next. You are going catabolic
Your shoulders are not indestructible
Between low bar squats and heavy bench, your shoulders take a beating. It’s very rare to see a long term lifter that hasn’t had some sort of shoulder niggle.
Our advice is,
- At the slightest niggle, move to high bar and move some dumbbell work into chest day – even with parallel grip and elbows in.
- Include some level of overhead pull (chins or pulldowns) with a variety of grips.
- Do not ‘ram’ yourself into low bar position and have your elbows pointing to the back of the room.
When you low bar, you should be able to get the bar below/on rear delts with your elbows down, and be tight enough when you fire out of the hole that your elbows don’t float up and push the bar forward.
If you are reading this and have lost body fat before, you really realise how much easier that position is to get into. If you are a big guy, try to really open up your pecs and possible dead hang from a bar to open up your shoulders before a big squat day
Take linear progression seriously
Not improving your numbers will do your head in. Once you progress through, you will rarely be tapered and primed to compete with your ‘best day’ numbers, especially if they are in comp.
The best advice we can give is to track 1RM, 3RM and 5RM at bodyweights. If you are 10kg lighter, it’s hard to hit your best bench, but you probably are leaner. If you gained 20kg in a year, your numbers should be higher (or you have just added bodyfat).
The gram is a great place for this, or just the notes section of your phone.
That’s it. Useful advice from a team of lifters that has done respectable numbers due to a long-term grind. None of us squatted 200 overnight but we all got there.