"Tough guy periodization: Heavy, heavier, even heavier, injury, light, light, heavy..."
-- Mark Reifkind, MRKC
Training-wise, I’ve had a pretty good few months.
If I may brag a little, I’ve hit a number of big PRs since January thanks to smart programming, namely Dan John’s 40 Day Program, and focus on just a few things. Here are the major ones:
- Double kettlebell front squat – 70 lb + 70 lb for an easy triple (on a cushy floor, too!)
- Two one-arm-one-leg pushupson either side
- One one-arm-one-leg pushup on either side with the back foot elevated
- Pullup + 88 lbs
- 70 lb kettlebell snatch for reps each side
- A much easier snatch test (80 reps without rest, followed by the last twenty)
But comfort-wise? Well, that's a different story.
As impressive as this list may sound - and as happy as I am with everything on it - there’s a dark side to all of this that I haven’t told many people about. And it’s pain.
Back in November, I injured myself doing something stupid (not kettlebell related), and paid a heavy price for it, both in my body and in my wallet. I paid $1000 + dollars just to get back to the point where I could lift ANYTHING, as the muscles in my upper back were knotted up so bad that turning my neck and moving my arms caused me to shriek more than a few times. I couldn’t do anything more athletic than lift a fork. I sacrificed a lot of money that could have gone toward doing other, cooler things, rather than getting my body unf*cked. I was able to get myself to the point where I could lift heavy things again, which is where I stopped my treatment.
All right all right all right! I think I’m good to lift again!
I still woke up very stiff and achy, but after moving around for a bit most of the discomfort would dissipate. I would do whatever I could to abate the pain, and for a while, I was able to train around it (and quite successfully, obviously). A lacrosse ball and a few selected self-massage/myofascial release techniques were my daily oasis in the wilderness. As with anyone, I learned a lot about my body as a result of my injury. Here are a few things I learned:
· Getting injured is like rolling a snowball down a hill; more things start to accumulate because of it, and no matter how well you chase after it and hack it down to a manageable size, it will eventually become unmanageable and you will pay the price.
· Do you plan on lifting and training for another few decades? Then plan on prioritizing soft-tissue health, which is the yin to strength’s yang (I’ve been good about this when it comes to mobility and flexibility, but bodywork is a big part of the picture, too).
· The one-more-rep-bro mentality is stupid. Following the RKC training mentality for years kept me healthy, and ignoring it once made me pay the price.
· Know pain? NO GAIN.
Despite other big goals I’ve set for myself for this year, I’m putting them off indefinitely while I get my soft tissue issues worked out. For the last four years I've been diligent about keeping my soft tissues healthy a la Super Joints and Relax Into Stretch, and as a result, I've avoided probably 99% of injuries I might have otherwise had to deal with. Since this injury, my go-to treatment for jacked-up soft tissues has been cupping massages, and now guasha (“coining”) as well as my Super Joints and Relax Into Stretch routines. I’ve already noticed a huge difference, and am going to continue the treatment until I’m back to better than ever.
In case you were unsure, yes, this is me, and yes, I am half robot.
A final note: Just yesterday on Facebook I ran across a picture of Franco Colombu bench pressing some really heavy weight. The majority of the comments on the picture were disappointing: “Man, I wish I could lift heavy again, but my joints just can’t take it anymore!” “I love lifting heavy! I used to do it all the time! I wish I could go back to it, but my joints are all screwed up from years of lifting heavy. But there’s nothing like lifting heavy!!!!!11!!!!1!!oneone!”
I agree, there really IS nothing like lifting heavy. There’s also nothing like enjoying your life. Dealing with pain is like hearing static over your favorite song on the radio: you can still enjoy the song, but the static will keep you from ever enjoying it completely. If you want a life full of both heavy lifting and freedom from pain, take it from me: stop working through, around, under, and over your problems. Get them fixed before it’s too late.
Until next time, lift heavy and eat hearty!
Until next time, lift heavy and eat hearty!