by Dave Thomas
Staying healthy is not a difficult endeavor. Most of us either just don’t want to put in the work to do so, or just flat out do dumb shit on a consistent basis. Be consistent enough with anything, and the path will ultimately lead to the end result in which its obviously headed. Nicks and dings happen to us all from time-to-time in any form of intense training. The key is in avoiding the dumb, major ones. Those injuries where it almost looks like people are pleading, begging to actually hurt themselves.
I love School of Rock. I love helping people not get injured. Here’s a list of things frequently injured folks do that you can correct and change the path.
Not Enough C’s
Everybody wants to get straight A’s. Perfection in every endeavor. Maximization of skills and knowledge. Full potential on display all the time. The straight A student gets the scholarship and the awards, right? After all, no one ever cared or hired someone who got straight C’s.
But in healthy, sustainable training, C’s are where it’s at for most folks. What’s a C? Just like school, that lovely output of about 70-79%. In this range, you allow a list of wonderful training benefits.
You develop speed and power better than you do at close to 100%.
In the C range, you are engaging more of your working muscles. Since you can “feel” the movement and actually control it, rather than it controlling you, you’re able to hit more of the working muscles as opposed to it being an all-hands-on deck approach of near maximal lifting.
You are typically allowed more reps, meaning you get more work, meaning you get more benefit. Training is not difficult to program. Typically, the more volume the better and no one ever stacked mad volume at 90%.
You work more muscle than Central Nervous System (CNS). Anything above 70% starts to rely on the CNS to execute the lift. By dialing it back in the range of the 70’s%, you train muscles and those are what stabilize and keep us healthy under duress. It’s the reason why we keep people in the range of C range for a good four to six months before really seeing what they have. It’s easier to manage for the body, and to program in proper movement pattern while still training strength.
1-rep PRs are awesome. They are like the night of the show. The C’s are the practices in the classroom everyday leading up to that point.
Stop being such a grade grubber and allow yourself some more C’s. Maybe even a D or two.
Failure to Train the “Piano Players”
This plays hand-in-hand with the benefits of sub-maximal training and it’s a trend I see all the time in the world of bad fitness advice. While there is nothing sexy about a wonderful set of proper push-ups, or nice, light explosive Russian swing, and while you won’t get “mad likes” on a video of properly retracting scapulae on some slow, deliberate ring rows; these are the very things that contribute to our ability to remain free of injury. And more people should do them not shitty.
Think of your body like a band. Yeah, the guitar solos and lead singers are what sell the show, but the whole things comes together when the piano player, bass player and back up singers are on point, too. The little guys in the background who don’t draw the crowds, but allow the stars to shine.
Light load or body weight, performed with attention to detail at low speed and proper tension. Pull-ups with attention on the vertical pulling muscles of the lat, not momentum or a state of constant flexion in the elbow. Don’t burn past the body weight stuff because you think it’s beneath your goals or ability. This is where you work your ability to stabilize, resist rotation and properly dial in your body’s ability to handle heavy load.
If all you ever do is heavy on heavy, you will never train this, and you will get hurt.
You Only Play Your Greatest Hits
We covered not to cherry pick percentages. We covered not to cherry pick and ignore the smaller movements. Now we want to make sure you don’t cherry pick movements and only perform that in which you’re killin’ it. I get it, it’s fun as hell to perform all of your good lifts and say to yourself over and over, “Look at how awesome I am at deadlifts. And everyone else look, too!” So you ignore squats and you end up with a three to one deadlift to squat ratio, and before you know it, you have over-developed hamstrings and underdeveloped quads.
Sprinters are a good example of this. They rely very much on the hamstrings and only the upper quadriceps. As a result, they are very fast and they pull muscles very easily. Muscle imbalance and compensation can often be a cause of pulled muscle or injury.
The same goes for ignoring any movement that you may be weak. You never develop it, so you never strengthen it.
No one ever stayed healthy on weak musculature.
Do mobility. Address your weaknesses. Train lighter, and do all the movements. Being well rounded may not win you a state powerlifting title, but it sure as hell will have you making #madgainzbro and staying healthy.
Dave Thomas is an owner and coach at Performance360. He is a certified USA Weightlifting Coach, RKC, CPT-NSCA and lover of pumpkin spice season.