Basically I’m concerned that by time I’m in my 40s or so I will be massively worn out and will have loads of injuries, even with taking time to warm up and use good quality training technque, regular deloads etc is it just inevitable that if you train seriously for bodybuilding/powerlifting or anything like that, that you will end up with very worn joints and spinal disks etc at an early age?
Or is this just for the people that don’t take care of their bodies? Professionals that really do train excessively?
Any ideas around this or ways to avoid it would be great,
“We are all headed there. We are all gonna be in a lot of pain. We are all gonna die.” - Mark Bell
If you’re looking for reassurance that powerlifting is good for your body, you are not going to get it. That being said you can obviously mitigate future problems by picking sensible attempts, making sure you warm up properly, and paying attention to mobility and recovery/rehab.
I am lucky to be friendly with a local legend in the sport, who competed at the national level for 20+ years. He, like many others, has had his fair share of injuries and muscle tears. He says if he could go back to being in his 20’s, he would work on mobility and shoulder stability work (to avoid the eventual rotator cuff tear he suffered).
Good point max, look at messed up dudes, and see what’s messed up. Then figure out how to keep it from getting messed up.
Check out Mark Bell’s episode where he trains the squat with Max Aita. Max gets Mark lined up in such a way that he squats “better.” Then, he shows Mark how to train to keep that alignment.
You can see the damage being un-done.
I wouldn’t say I was looking for reassurance as I know we put our bodies through hell so definitely didn’t expect any proof of it being ‘good’ for our bodies but was wondering if there was anyone out there that had manage to keep themselves reasonably in one piece after years of lifting!
It must be great to have someone who has been there done that and can tell you where they feel they could have kept them self safer.
That’s a great point max and one I will certainly consider(looking at older lifters and see where they feel they could have prevented issues)
Edit: I have actually heard that quote from mark before and did feel inclined to agree with him and being a savage whilst we can haha
I do remember that video being posted actually and I did watch some of it at the start where he changes where mark has his weight on his feet etc and it is great, I’m going to give the full thing a watch
Alignment is always something I try my best to be aware of, I used to have a hip shift on my squat which I lucky managed to correct over some time.
Is an osteopath the sort of person you want to see as far as alignment is concerned?
If dealing with some back pain or a dodgy knee is the worst you have to deal with in your latter years then you have done alright. Just don’t do anything stupid and you will likely come out ahead of the guy who didn’t push all that hard but has a fucked back and torn up rotator cuffs.
I don’t have much experience visiting the profesionals.
But if you diagnosed and are correcting your own hip shift, you are on the right track. If you shift one way or the other, you put a lot of stress on some joint. It could be the hip, or knee, or your disks, or whatever. Something gets ground away, or impinged or bulges.
So you figure out how to fix it. Then build up the muscles that need attention. This way you get less likely to be injured, technique gets better and you get stronger.
Check out Matt Wenning for more info on this approach.
Thanks for a great response to this, that is definitely the route I am taking. I do look for dysfunctional movement in myself and then do my best to correct it or see a professional that can help me correct it. Hopefully I won’t be too banged up at 40 after all!
I have seen the odd little bit from Matt wenning and he does some crazy band/kettle bell press movements for his shoulder stability!
You are almost always going to press barbells.
Sometimes you kind of maintain your shoulder stability with band Pull aparts, or scrap pushups or something.
Other times, You’ll spend a few minutes in the gym hitting face pulls and rear delt stuff.
Every once in awhile, you can rotate in hand hanging kettlebell presses to really challenge your shoulder stability.
I am in my 40s and played football thru college, powerlifted thru college, continued olympic lifting and powerlifting for past 20 years, plus on and off bjj, Muay Thai, Krav and MMA…it can be done…and I have a good friend who is 70 and just won his pro card in BB and still trains every morning 5am and looks fabulous. We all have our aches and pains…
If I could hit rewind, I would have been more aware of and less stubborn about overtraining. I would have gotten into yoga or something like pilates or tai chi much sooner. I would have eaten less carbs but back in the 80s and 90s most folks were advocating high carb loading for muscle gains. I have eaten fairly healthy most of my life, but could eat cleaner, and get plugged into anti-aging journals and resources for supplements that help beyond just getting diesel for performance.
Good coaching on form, functional movement screens. Get help with programming from legit S&C coaches…know when to back off. Know when to do more conditioning rather than heavy lifting. Manage stress. Have balance in your life. Have good friends and hobbies outside of power sports.
Deep tissue work, ART, accupuncture, cupping, dry needling, chiro adjustments (if you can find good ones not the quacks), massage, a focus on quality sleep, physical therapy, rolling, rolfing, compression pants (Normatech), ice tubs on non-training days (yea there is a debate whether this are placebo but hey it seems to work for many athletes I know), sauna, whirlpools, whatever makes ya feel good and relax.
Honestly, what keeps me going is the idea that I could go through all the time and effort saving my body for old age only to get into a car wreck and jack it all up. I would have rather lived big when I could then save it all up for a rainy day thay never happens.
Almost 51 years old here.
I agree quite a bit with T3hPwnisher about seizing the day, so to speak.
Also, after having my share of injuries, I believe in the importance of great form and being able to recognize the difference between pain that will lead to success and pain that will result in injury. At this point, I shut it down immediately when it’s the wrong kind of pain.
Train smart do the least amount of volume to get results , same with weight you dont see jay cutler doing 800 lb squats and 2500lb leg press but can hang with Ronnie in leg dept. Im 43 and been training 31 years harcore until 30 then tore pec, got into party lifestyle i missed out on due to training. Any way due you know how many guys my age have bad shoulders and backs who never lifted have almost pear shape builds. Or slip a disk starting lawn mower etc. Actually once you train intense for a long time you must always train or joints click. My weightlifting coach was very accomplished in Olympic lifting up until early 40s , too many injuries starts powerlifting, gos from 540 320 560 at 43 181 natural to 638 379 642 at 63 187 class natural he’s 68 now so many injuries his first squat set 505x2 as he cant break parallel , it takes him that much weight to push him down, also so much knee distended that he only trap dead as bar get hung up on knee with conventional bar, does he regret one moment never. The guy’s still got well devolved legs and traps and a six pack at 68. Keep with it .
I agree with kp! “Recognize the difference between pain that will lead to success and pain that will result in injury.”
Sometimes, you have to make adjustments based on what hurts to stop yourself from getting injured.
You don’t have to get patella tendonitis and stop squatting. When your knee starts to hurt, you can figure out why, then fix it with your assistance work, warm ups, recovery stuff at home, whatever. Or you can just “be tough” and grind on that shit until you have to stop squatting.
If the front of your shoulder hurts, you can just keep doing what you are doing till it blows up. Or you can address your rear delts and over worked bicep tendons.
If your pain is caused by poor technique or shifty execution, you will get stronger by cleaning that junk up. You’ll hurt less, recover faster and be less likely to get hurt.
I guess I’ll chime in here. I haven’t really been at T-Nation for a couple of years. So in a nutshell I blew out my left knee thanks to an indiot Tae Kwon Do teacher (Don Burns, Indiana Univerity – he’s a moron). Got an ACL rebuild. Fast forward to now, me at 55. Remember I played damn hard for decades without much indication of problem. The knee repair was very good for the time (1984), though quite primitive by today’s standards. I trained hard up until a few years ago, when suddenly the left knee got considerably worse and I started getting all sorts of problem. I needed to get a right hip replacement earlier, then a right rotator cuff repair and finally a left knee replacement. I also had to get my right knee scoped. Notice the pattern? Everything on the side opposite the repaired knee took a Hell of a beating. All told it my knee injury cost me about $250k in surgical costs (yeah insurance!) as well as 3 years of my life.
What does this mean?
Basically that because the left knee was slightly hinky, the right side corrected, but not in a normal wear and tear pattern. One of my osteopaths stated that, over time, compensations will destroy you. This means that when you are no longer quite using your structure right, the forces are dealt with poorly by the rest of you. I am returning to training and have effectively no restrictions (except bungee jumping, which I have no intention of starting) because I am very good at finding osteos that repair high-level competitive athletes. I realized that if I am having skeletal changes, that is a quick trip to a walker, so I fixed them pretty aggressively. I am working back to training, through at a somewhat lower level, but now am an absolute fanatic about good body mechanics. All the old dudes (like 70’s) I see still training hard happen to have excellent mechanics still, mostly due to chance.
Upshot: Good form. Always. Never do a max lift if your form gets bad. At 20 you will be sore and recover – mostly (the body never forgets). At 40 you will be rupturing disks or looking for your knee caps. You can be way buffer and stronger at 40 than guys at 20, but you will have to be smart in your training. This will probably mean you have to find a good trainer as in someone who is also a trained physio therapist who specializes in professional athletes will do the trick. Call a professional sports team and ask who they use. Will it cost you? Probably $200 an hour. This is way fast and cheaper that getting injured and having surgery. (Yes I have one.) You only need someone like that ever so often for an assessment.
Hope this helps