Nothing will crush your gains and motivation to train more than getting injured or being in pain when working out.
Extended time away from the gym is the number 1 thing that will kill your progress. There is something about putting together weeks and months of consistent workouts that really enhances your progress.
I’m sure you have heard the guy/gal in the gym that says “I used to lift but then I hurt my (insert whatever injury).”
So the secret to building your physique is finding ways to avoid burnout and lowering your injury risk so you don’t have to take extended breaks from the gym.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your injury risk/risk of burnout so you can set yourself up for years of productive training and gains.
Here are steps I have online clients take to lower their injury risk and avoid burnout:
➡Don’t just chase weight.
Don’t just chase weight for weight’s sake. Make sure you are ready to progress and you have solid technique.
Too many people will increase weight week over week because they feel like that’s the only way to progress.
What you see when people are just focused on how much weight they are lifting is that they start to leverage their body in certain ways to do more weight, rely on other muscles that should be resting, or you start to put more stress on joints/tendons.
And the heavy weight you are using is adding unnecessary fatigue, which will limit how much training volume you will be able to do, and this can lead to less muscle growth over time.
Oh and it increases your injury risk.
Now someone will read this and think so I need to go light with my weights?
Your workouts need to be challenging and over time this is going to require the use of heavier and heavier weights.
But what I am saying is that if building muscle is your goal you shouldn’t just increase weight because you feel like you should be lifting more or to hit some random number you have set in your mind or because the guy next to you at the gym is doing more.
If you do this, I guarantee you are missing out on progress.
In order to build muscle, the target muscle needs to be stimulated. Once other muscles or joints are starting to feel it, or you have to change your technique to get the weight up, it’s too much for you at that moment.
➡Warm-up and pay attention to your form.
Don’t go straight into your working sets.
This is especially true on more complicated lifts like the squat. I see too many people load up the bar before doing any kind of warm up set. This increases your injury risk and other muscle groups/joints may take over to compensate.
Have some focus on your form and don’t just add more weight to boost your ego.
➡Make small increases week over week in the weight lifted and/or sets.
If you haven’t lifted for a while don’t go straight into what you were doing before in terms of sets or weight. Then each week, slowly add either sets, reps, or weight from the previous week.
What you see a lot of times is people end up getting in this cycle where they don’t lift for a bit, then come back and try to do what they did before, get super sore and get burnt out within a few weeks because their body is not recovering, and then the cycle repeats itself.
Too large of increases each week in the amount you do also increases injury risk substantially.
Studies have shown that many athletes see increases in injuries when they go from a low training volume to a large increase in training volume, instead of slowly ramping up.
For example, add 1-2 sets or 5-10lbs each week, not 5 sets or just another 45lbs on each side.
➡Limit training a muscle group if it’s sore.
If you constantly train a muscle group when it’s sore you are risking an injury. This is also a sign that your muscles are under recovered and need to rest more.
If this happens every once in a while it’s ok, but if you’re constantly working out while sore then its pretty safe to say you aren’t building muscle.
➡If a certain exercise causes pain every time you do it, switch up your technique or do a sub that exercise out.
When it comes to building muscle there are no must-do exercises. You need to find exercises that fit your body well and allow you to feel it in the target.
If someone says you have to do a back squat to build your quads but every time you do a back squat you don’t feel it in the quads and it bothers your low back, then move on and find something else.
It isnt great for YOU.
➡Take a lighter week in the gym every 4-8 weeks.
If you never take a lighter week, then your body will eventually take one for you and it may be longer than a week.
Another common mistake too many people make is just hammering away week over week and never allowing their body to rest and recover.
My other thought on this is that if you feel like you never need to take a deload week then you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough either, and this is also leaving gains on the table.
➡Eat enough protein and food to aid in recovery.
If you are constantly under-eating, especially protein, you may be increasing your injury risk.
Alot of people cant understand why they are stuck, but then they simply undereat daily.
Eating in a deficit decreases the amount of volume you can do and RECOVER from.
If you are not in a fat loss phase then you should be making sure you are avoiding being in a calorie deficit.
Here is how to get more protein in your diet.
Also check out my free guide on how to eat for building muscle and performance.
Follow these tips so you can build a long and consistent training journey.
The best physiques come from people who just continue to workout and find ways to lower their injury risk and avoid burnout.
If you need more help on how to program your workouts fill out the link here and lets get to work.