T Nation

Injuries

My first post so be merciful if I?m off base somehow. I am 45 and just started increasing the intensity on all my weight lifting. I’m not doing a lot of compound movements, i.e. I don?t do squats, benches and dead lifts just classic stuff like leg presses, curls, flyes, tricep extensions, etc., etc.

My problem is this: I am struggling with minor injuries. I am in good shape and doing very well for 45 as I?ve long exercised both strength and cardio.

I?m a thin-boned guy. I supposed I would be described as ?athletic and toned?. And here?s the problem: I cannot seem to increase the much over my body weight on anything I try.

Example: I got up to about 150% of my body weight on a leg press and my knees started killing me for days afterward. I think my sister could outdo that! Anyway, it?s embarrassing as crap, but I can?t pretend my knees don?t hurt. Plus, I really think I was doing the exercise right. I?ve got the same problem with my left elbow and lower back as well.

Anyway, I want to ramp up and start doing some decent weight but my joints can?t seem to handle it.

Any tips and thoughts would be much appreciated?

The problem very well could be the fact that you’re avoid exercises that train movements and not muscles. There’s nothing functional about a leg press, and single-joint exercises in excess are really just going to lead to overuse problems in the long-run.

I also don’t know what you’re done in terms of preparation. Were you doing plenty of higher rep stuff in the beginning to strengthen the connective tissue, or did you just jump right into heavy training?

Are you cycling volume and intensity in your program? Just going hard all the time is a recipe for joint problems and stagnation; you need to back off sometimes.

See my article, “Smart from the Start” and you should get some ideas from which to build.

Well it’s time u joined the club!
The big factor i have noticed as i age is that i need more warm-ups. By this i mean to do 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 reps of the exercise at 50 and %75 of your “working” weight before u get into the heavier stuff. Also, I have found it a MUST to do some cardio and stretching before lifting. It warms up the joints and ligaments and really offsets the chance of major joint pain the next day. As u get older the heavy stuff sometimes is not an option. But u can still get growth with pre-exhaustion techniques, cut downs and super sets. Those techniques help u stimulate muscle growth without heavy weights. Heavy weights just might not be your bag. Better to be mobile and comfortable than crippled. Good Luck.

[quote]Eric Cressey wrote:
The problem very well could be the fact that you’re avoid exercises that train movements and not muscles. There’s nothing functional about a leg press, and single-joint exercises in excess are really just going to lead to overuse problems in the long-run.

I also don’t know what you’re done in terms of preparation. Were you doing plenty of higher rep stuff in the beginning to strengthen the connective tissue, or did you just jump right into heavy training?

Are you cycling volume and intensity in your program? Just going hard all the time is a recipe for joint problems and stagnation; you need to back off sometimes.

See my article, “Smart from the Start” and you should get some ideas from which to build.[/quote]

I do some cardio first to warm up. So are you suggesting that I’ve got to do high rep stuff first for every exercise?

Sheesh! Now that’s one thing different about being 45. Well, actually, now that I think about it: I’m lifting more than I ever have.

And thx for the article: I’ll definitely read it…

[quote]BigFred wrote:
Well it’s time u joined the club!
The big factor i have noticed as i age is that i need more warm-ups. By this i mean to do 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 reps of the exercise at 50 and %75 of your “working” weight before u get into the heavier stuff. Also, I have found it a MUST to do some cardio and stretching before lifting. It warms up the joints and ligaments and really offsets the chance of major joint pain the next day. As u get older the heavy stuff sometimes is not an option. But u can still get growth with pre-exhaustion techniques, cut downs and super sets. Those techniques help u stimulate muscle growth without heavy weights. Heavy weights just might not be your bag. Better to be mobile and comfortable than crippled. Good Luck.[/quote]

Thx for the response. You gave me some interesting ideas.

I would really appreciate it if you would elaborate a little more on some of the techniques that you?re talking about. The above poster talked about using variability and I have to admit that?s something that I?ve never tried. I?ve always to lift as much as I could in a gym. Yeah, it?s a stupid male pride thing.

But, anyway, I?m sure I can find what a superset it. I know I?ve read about it, but it just escapes me. But can you explain what you mean by cut down sets? I don?t think I?ve read about that?

Also, by pre-exhaustion do you mean doing the 75% thing you were talking about? Or is there something else I need to do?

[quote]Eric Cressey wrote:
The problem very well could be the fact that you’re avoid exercises that train movements and not muscles. There’s nothing functional about a leg press, and single-joint exercises in excess are really just going to lead to overuse problems in the long-run.
[/quote]

I meant to ask you more about this:

Are you suggesting that compound movements (such as squats) are more natural for the joints since the weight isn’t just focused on one area? Are there studies/observations that the weight is distributed over a more wide area and therefore easier on the joints?

I’ve never really heard that theory espoused - that’s kind of interesting. Anything else you have to say about it, I’d be interested in hearing?

DONT overtrain!! You can workout too much you know. The %50 and %75 percent threw u off? If you flat bench with 200lbs then do a set of 10-15 reps with 100lbs, rest 3-5 mins while stretching, and do another warm up with 150lbs 10-15 reps. Then go to 200lbs. Use common sense and pitch the pride. Go to book store or online and look up muscle building techniques. Jeez, u are on one of the best sources online just use search tool. Later.

[quote]BigFred wrote:
DONT overtrain!! You can workout too much you know. The %50 and %75 percent threw u off? If you flat bench with 200lbs then do a set of 10-15 reps with 100lbs, rest 3-5 mins while stretching, and do another warm up with 150lbs 10-15 reps. Then go to 200lbs. Use common sense and pitch the pride. Go to book store or online and look up muscle building techniques. Jeez, u are on one of the best sources online just use search tool. Later.[/quote]

Will do. And thx for the numbers - that’s exactly what I was looking for…

Based on my own experience (as well as deferring to Eric’s greater knowledge base), I have to strongly agree with him regarding training movements instead muscle groups. When I was younger, I was involved in college athletics, and almost all of our gym training featured compound movements - I made a lot of improvements and never had any significant injuries from training. After my college athletic career was over, I was only interested in training for appearance - I was a little lazy too, so I started to use more machines - I also stopped doing the really draining compound movements.

Over time, I started to accumulate a lot of training injuries. Personally, I believe that this was due to some of the unnatural angles and stresses that machines can generate, especially for someone like me who’s tall. I also believe that machine training caused me to develop muscle imbalances that led to other imjuries (or aggrivated existing ones). Anyway, after finding T-Nation and wanting to get back in to decent shape again (I had devolved into a fat guy who benched a lot and used machines for everything else), I started re-learning the compound exercises. It was a very humbling experience - probably worse than being a beginner - being older and having more responsibilities in life didn’t help either.

However, over the past few years, I have made a lot of progress in terms of re-mastering compound movements - I’ve even started to pick up the Olympic lifts for the first time at 38. The switch back to compound movements has also lead to better appearance, better athletic performance, better posture, etc. - and best of all, no significant training injuries. I’ll never make the mistake of dropping the compound movements again. As I said before, I’ll defer to anyone who know of any formal studies, but in my experience, you can’t beat the compound lifts.

[quote]mattj1stc wrote:
Based on my own experience (as well as deferring to Eric’s greater knowledge base), I have to strongly agree with him regarding training movements instead muscle groups. When I was younger, I was involved in college athletics, and almost all of our gym training featured compound movements - I made a lot of improvements and never had any significant injuries from training. After my college athletic career was over, I was only interested in training for appearance - I was a little lazy too, so I started to use more machines - I also stopped doing the really draining compound movements.

Over time, I started to accumulate a lot of training injuries. Personally, I believe that this was due to some of the unnatural angles and stresses that machines can generate, especially for someone like me who’s tall. I also believe that machine training caused me to develop muscle imbalances that led to other imjuries (or aggrivated existing ones). Anyway, after finding T-Nation and wanting to get back in to decent shape again (I had devolved into a fat guy who benched a lot and used machines for everything else), I started re-learning the compound exercises. It was a very humbling experience - probably worse than being a beginner - being older and having more responsibilities in life didn’t help either.

However, over the past few years, I have made a lot of progress in terms of re-mastering compound movements - I’ve even started to pick up the Olympic lifts for the first time at 38. The switch back to compound movements has also lead to better appearance, better athletic performance, better posture, etc. - and best of all, no significant training injuries. I’ll never make the mistake of dropping the compound movements again. As I said before, I’ll defer to anyone who know of any formal studies, but in my experience, you can’t beat the compound lifts.[/quote]

Very interesting advice. I’ve actually wanted to switch to compound movement, but, I hate to admit it, one of the main reasons why I haven?t is that, although fairly muscular, I?m a pretty thin middle aged guy. If I start doing squats and dead lifts, I feel that the people in the gym will think: what is this guy trying to prove? Even the guys that are huge don’t do compound movements in general from what I’ve seen.

I know, I know: quit worrying about what other people think! But I?m just being honest?

You’ve got the right idea - who cares what the idiots in your gym think? Most people in my gym only focus on the mirror muscles anyway, so it’s not like I have to compete with any of them for time at the squat rack (except for the occasional dumb guy curling there).

When I started the Olympic lifts, I first had to master overhead squatting. I got a lot of strange looks while I struggled with just the bar in the beginning. Now that I’m pretty good at it, I get a lot of people wanting to know more about what I’m doing (in a positive way).

Based on my experience. the biggest challenge isn’t what others may think, it’s overcoming your own ego. It’s very tough to go from leg pressing a lot of weight to re-learning how to squat correctly with light weights. However, it’s definitely worthwhile in the long-run.

Good luck and keep at it.

Amen to Big Fred about warming up. You’re over 40… I feel that warm ups are essential ! Also, I rub warming balm into my delts, elbows and knees before every workout. I’m older than you and I have no joint pains. I’ve been lifting since Jesus was a baby.

[quote]mattj1stc wrote:
You’ve got the right idea - who cares what the idiots in your gym think? Most people in my gym only focus on the mirror muscles anyway, so it’s not like I have to compete with any of them for time at the squat rack (except for the occasional dumb guy curling there).

When I started the Olympic lifts, I first had to master overhead squatting. I got a lot of strange looks while I struggled with just the bar in the beginning. Now that I’m pretty good at it, I get a lot of people wanting to know more about what I’m doing (in a positive way).

Based on my experience. the biggest challenge isn’t what others may think, it’s overcoming your own ego. It’s very tough to go from leg pressing a lot of weight to re-learning how to squat correctly with light weights. However, it’s definitely worthwhile in the long-run.

Good luck and keep at it.[/quote]

Thx for the encouragement. Ego is very difficult for me: my sole goal in life is not to be noticed. That’s an exagerration but largely true I’m afraid!

Now I’m really curious about something you wrote: “most people in my gym only focus on the mirror muscles anyway”. Could you expand on what you meant by that a little?

Here are just a few of the q’s I had about this (and again please excuse my gross ignorance):

  1. Do the Olympic lifts get the mirror muscles?
  2. Should you even work the mirror muscles if you do the Olympic lifts?
  3. If the primary goal is not to look good in the mirror, then what is the goal (or goals) of the Olympic lifts?

Now, before I say anything else, I have what I think are the answers to these. But, to be honest, I’m not sure I really do know. I mean if I did know, I’d probably be doing them I guess! And keep in mind that I’ve really only read a few body building-type mags which are generally not big on power lifts from what I’ve seen.

So if you or anyone can indulge me and explain give some bullet points of the advanges of Olympic over “mirror” lifting, I’d sure appreciate it…

[quote]magyar wrote:
Amen to Big Fred about warming up. You’re over 40… I feel that warm ups are essential ! Also, I rub warming balm into my delts, elbows and knees before every workout. I’m older than you and I have no joint pains. I’ve been lifting since Jesus was a baby.[/quote]

I have been warming up thx to all the posts about it. And I definitely think it’s helped.

I’ve also been much more cautious. My elbow felt like it had a tear in it, so I did a lot of warm ups and then stopped lifting after two sets cuzz it was still hurting. I really think if I hadn’t listened to you guys, I would have done a couple more sets and injure myself.

Btw, what do you mean by balm if you don’t mind me asking? You mean like FlexAll or something?

sounds like you may be on the right track, you might want to try to do the 5 major strength movements for a while.These movements are bench press,squats,clean and presses,deadlifts,military press. These have worked for me in the past.

goodluck

Regarding Olympic lifts - one quick disclaimer - I’m not presently at a level where I compete - I’m still just learning these lifts. Another point would be that I don’t do the Olympic lift exclusively - I still do a lot of the other compound movements as well.

Since you’re new to compound movements, I wouldn’t recommend starting with the Olympic lifts. I’ve found them to be the most complex - learning the right technique is critical, and you have to have some sort of baseline strenght, coordination and range of motion to get off to a good start. On the other hand, most traditional compound movements are a little easier to pick up - there are lots of articles and programs here on the site.

In terms of “mirror muscles”, I referring to the guys who only train the muscles that they can see in the mirror when they look straight ahead. You probably know the type - they only work chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, traps and abs, but almost nothing else. In the short-term, someone without any training experience would probably make some progress following this sort of routine, but this not a long-term success strategy.

If you’re looking for a good starting point into compound movements, try searching this site under Chad Waterbury. Most of the other authors have good programs too, but Chad specifically had a program that featured compound lifts with relatively high loads - low reps, but a lot of sets - lowering under control and lifting as fast as possible. The only difference in advice I would give would be to use lighter weights and more reps in the beginning - since you’ll be learning the movements, you shouldn’t go to heavy until your technique is solid. In terms of program design, again, there are lots of good ones here - strive for balance between lower and upper body - between pushing and pulling.

I hope that this helps.

Whisper9999, I use the stuff called “Cramer Red Hot”. It’s a real common balm in athletic dept’s. It’s the stuff that goes on real hot and stays that way. I really feel that it has saved me from joint issues.

[quote]magyar wrote:
Whisper9999, I use the stuff called “Cramer Red Hot”. It’s a real common balm in athletic dept’s. It’s the stuff that goes on real hot and stays that way. I really feel that it has saved me from joint issues.[/quote]

I’ll give it a try…