T Nation

Prioritizing Safety

Excuse me since I don’t have an exact question; I’m just ranting about my thoughts as if for a diary and hoping somebody could relate and chime in.

This is me; an intermediate lifter going back and forth for some years now. 25 years, hover between 180-200 pounds and crippled twice from lifting last year. The first time being march and the second late december, while I did deep back squats. I’ve had sciatica pains and my right erector side has flared up seriously, making it very difficult to sit, stand, walk and even lie down for several days. A few weeks or more to think of lifting and move pain free.

My passions are not the highest but I don’t want to give up weights. I want to consistently improve in the big lifts, without hurting myself. I would like a minimalistic program, yet one that would not lead to major imbalances.

I’m going to do all my benching inclined when possible, as flat benching is obviously not good for my shoulders. I need to think about the form of my rows; stretching too far down would tear the disks and too far up seems to turn it into a shrug. As such, it seems to me as if cheat rows with short form would be the most dangerous with high back destruction potential.

I like to deadlift with an ultra-wide grip though this lengthens the distance the back has to curl up and thus increases risk, in that sense. I’ve thought about putting posterior chain development in the backburner and doing wide’ish deads with a fattened bar, so that I could get away with less weight and perhaps more safety, at the expense of some development.

Squats seem the most dangerous and though I used to feel that only true squats are rock bottom deep, I’m pretty scared of them now because of the additional distance where the back is hard to keep erect. They also made my knees crack audibly, though without apparent pain most of the time. Even somewhat light weight irritates the back sometimes. I have a psychological tendency to go to absolute failure or I feel like I’m underachieving, which leads to poor form.

As it stands, I feel like not not squatting at all (front squats don’t feel right) and would rather use machines. I was always more into deadlifting and would imagine that deads with increased distance and grip would have some transfer, should I dare try a max squat in some distant future. The deads could be a disaster waiting to happen of course.

How did you injure yourself to begin with, specifically?

From the sounds of it, you’ve already made your mind up. This shit isnt safe. Anyone who thinks lifting heavy weights for years isnt going to catch up with them at some point is an idiot.

You need to make the decision between wanting to call yourself a powerlifter or actually powerlifting. The different being, just calling yourself a powerlifter, you continue to lift heavy for a while until you royally fuck yourself up then call it quits and end up being one of those assholes that talks about “how strong I used to be” or “when I was your age” or “I trained with (insert some dickhead here) and he squatted (insert something that never happened here) for 8 reps raw.”

Actually powerlifting would consist of backing off, looking at your program, learning about every restorative mean that exists today, giving your body the work it needs to get better, and eventually coming back and smashing some big weights. Figure out why you are hurt. Don’t just be hurt and dont just want to call yourself a powerlifter.

Or just stop lifting heavy.