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Simple tips for training around pain
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Weekly Program Review: Training Around Knee Pain
Sometimes you get hurt training. Sometimes you’re just messed up from training for years. And sometimes that sometimes catches up with you.
I have arthritis in both of my knees. Usually it doesn’t give me that much trouble. Sometimes it does. This week, that sometimes caught up with me.
Every strength athlete I know trains around pain and injury. It’s an inevitable outcome of training for strength.
There are three tools I use when pain stops me mid-training session from doing my planned programming:
Pauses. Pauses are my go-to when dealing with joint pain or injury. You can lower the weight and focus on engaging the muscle or technique depending on whether you’re training for hypertrophy or strength. This week, instead of regular leg pressing on my second leg day, I used a long pause deep in the bottom position of the press. It let me keep high tension on my quads without too much knee pain. Work was done. I like using a 2-3 count pause as my default pause scheme regardless of the exercise.
Tempo. Tempo work is doing a slow eccentric movement followed by a slow concentric. So down slow up slow. Like pauses, they let you reduce weight and focus on engaging muscle or technique. A common tempo is three seconds down and three seconds up. For bodybuilding, I try to contract the muscle as hard as possible on the way up. For strength, I just focus on technique. You can even combine tempo with pauses if you really want a challenge.
Leave. If lowering weight and keeping stimulus high with pauses and tempo still don’t agree with your injury, then it’s time to get out of the gym. Sometimes you can’t train around the pain. You need to look beyond missing a little volume in the near term for the long term. Go home. Use epsom baths. Get good sleep. Then come back to train hard for your next session. Usually you’re ready by then.
Other than my second lower body day, I progressed in weight/reps in all exercises this training week. In total, I spent just about 10 hours training:
The Fatigue Monitor
Fatigue is climbing a bit. Next week is the last week in my current mesocycle (block of training), so the intensity is high. I’m also deep into caloric restriction for my show cut. I’m going to have to start pulling some of my longevity efforts as I get closer to show.
My fatigue management score this week was down to 22 out of 30. It was previously 24. I removed zone 5 cardio work to rest my legs for the rest of week and one sauna session. I also reduced some of the intensity of my functional training.
Changes for Next Week
Next week is the peak for my current mesocycle, so I plan on continuing to keep the functional work lower intensity and still avoid the zone 5 work. After next week I reload which should reset my total fatigue back to a place where I can add some of the work that’s been removed back in.
Until next week. Stay stronger for longer.
The Highlander helps strength athletes and enthusiasts live stronger for longer by combining strength + longevity.