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Returning to Prior Peak. Progress Slowly for Injury Prevention?

Hi All,

New to the forum and coming back to the gym (just built a home gym) after a 7 year layoff where I can count on the hands how many times I made it to the gym each year individually.

The question I have is how fast should I be progressing to return to prior peak strength and if I should consider putting any hurdles to slow progress in order to potentially help with injury prevention etc. (thinking tendons or strains for increasing load to quickly).

To provide some background I returned to training in about July where I came back full force and was training like I was prior to the layoff but was having trouble recovering (not 20 anymore) as I was obviously running way too high a combination of frequency, volume, and intensity. My squat went from about 5x5 at 225 to 5x5 355 within about a month period or 8 legs days. Much lesser gains on the bench and other exercises but the general point is load was increasing very rapidly. I basically proceeded to take a month off after taking a recovery week and have since re-evaluated the volume/intensity I train with to ensure I appropriately recover from sessions.

Does anyone have any recommendations as my current idea is basically to just hold weights relatively similar and try and just increase reps off a 5x5 scheme and drop a set or two as the reps climb. Not sure if that makes sense? I figure most people will just say let strength progress as fast as possible during the current plan but I want to make sure I am not an injury waiting to happen by being stupid about it.

Prior strength PB’s (never really did singles) at 20 years old after about 18 months of training at 183lbs were:

Bench: 5x5 at 255lbs
OHP: 3x8 at 160ish lbs - remember this lift sucked as I didn’t do much shoulders.
Squat: 5x5 at 405lbs
Deadlift: 8x3 at 385lbs - never have really emphasized this lift at all.

At this stage, your best means of injury progression is going to be following a well-designed program. Deliberately “slowing down progress” will only serve to, well, slow down progress.

This was not a well-designed program, which is why you had problems. It’s not necessarily about age or fast progress or whatever.

I didn’t really sort out though, what’s your actual training goal? That’s going to dictate program design and progression more than anything.

Do you have any specific pre-existing injuries you’re working around or is just a general concern for avoiding injury?

That makes sense to me as I was kind of surprised at how quickly the strength was coming back so kind of was worried. I have seen plenty of program recommendations on the forum so will probably research those I have seen a bit more.

Yeah it was literally 7 days a week of high volume and intensity which is what I did when I started hitting the gym after calling it quits on some high level sports at 19 ish.

Actual training goal is pretty much just to get pretty strong but mainly to do it in a smart way where the shorter term goal (12-18 months) is to get back to prior strength levels. Medium to longer term 3-5+ years I would like to get to a 5 plate squat and maybe bench 3 plates as general strength targets. Nothing really set in stone I more just genuinely enjoy lifting and working to get stronger and am past a segment of life that I was super busy with some combination of school/work/designations/prioritizing hitting the town with friends.

Pre-existing injuries not really much here besides have had a hamstring pull or two while in university track and tweaked the back decently during deads once. More so a general concern for longevity and being able to approach the goal of strength building in a smarter way.

How old are you now?

Current Stats:
Age 27
Height 5’11
Weight 198
No clue on anything else but would guess high teens low 20’s for BF.

This screams 5/3/1 to me. 5/3/1 gets pushed a lot as a cure-all, which it isn’t, but it’s 100% designed for long-term progress. Like, loooooong-term. I mean, two of its core principles are “start too light” and “progress too slow”.

So, yeah. Get on 5/3/1 and ride it out:

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