T Nation

Where is the Line?


I'm just wondering about some accessory exercises that are "painful" or uncomfortable. One one side for instance, I have a weak back and suck at pull/chin ups and chest supported rows. I know I need work here. On the other hand, I can't do even bodyweight dips, let alone weighted anymore, because it feels like I'm going to decorate the walls with my sternum. In the middle, I have things like JM presses, behind the head shoulder/military press movements, that are just plain uncomfortable/painful.

What I'm wondering is, do I suck it up and hit those hard, or do I listen to my body and accessorize that muscle with a different exercise?


why do you have trouble doing them? just because of have you have any surgery or anything like that? cause if not then you should suck it up cause your missing out on the best accessory exercises that can be done and most affective


You need to get in the gym and figure out excactly what is hurting when you do those excercises. Then you figure out why it hurts. For instance, is the pain caused by limited mobility, injuries etc., or are does it just feel uncomfortable because the muscles worked are weak. Then you'll know what to do next.

You need to be able to differntiate between "good" pain and "bad" pain. For instance, squatting a 10RM "hurts" because its just plain brutal on your legs, thats "good" pain. On the other hand, performing a set of good mornings without an arched lower-back hurts because you're abusing your spine, thats "bad" pain.


Back stuff: 25% because of an injury and 75% because I haven't worked hard enough to rehab it yet. Like I said, I know I need work here, I obviously have to suck it up on this one.

Dips: I don't know. Used to love weighted dips, it was the only accessory that really hit my triceps. Now I dunno whats changed, but they absolutely kill my chest. Feels like someone is opening me up with a ribslplitter. So for now, I've decided I can skip these in favor of skullcrushers, narrow grip bench, etc. Not to mention my chest/front delts/tris are my strong point so I'm workin on other stuff.

What I'm questioning is stuff more in the middle ground. For me, JM presses. They put some pain on my elbows, and a bit on the wrists.

Yeah, squatting is a no brainer, if I want to have any powerlifting goals, I have to squat. But they don't hurt, they just suck, haha. Squats are the kind of asskicking that I look forward to, the reason I go to the gym in the first place. I guess another way to put it, squats are obviously "good" pain, to me.

How can I tell if its a mobility/flexibility/strength weakness I need to hammer, vs my body telling me to lay off?


If dips aggravate your sternum/shoulders I see absolutely no reason to try pushing them. (same happens to me, and it seems like this is a fairly common issue). I assume the pain is making it so you can't even push yourself on it muscularly, so what the hell good is it doing you?

There are other ways to work your triceps and chest. No exercise is 'irreplaceable.' Joint damage doesn't strengthen the joint lol... it will just continue to deteriorate until you are forced to stop or change what you're doing (Though of course you should make sure you are using proper form and that it doesn't hurt only because of an unhealed injury, like in the case of your back. It sounds like you already know the difference)


Yeah thats my thoughts on dips as well. Basically I just want to avoid rationalizing myself into pussing out on some lifts if they are going to be more useful. On the other hand, I don't want to beat myself up unnecessarily if I can get my work done more comfortably/healthily.

I do have to keep in mind though, powerlifting isn't easy on the body in general, but whether thats ultimately a good or bad thing, I don't want to debate.


I'd recommend you go to a doctor if that hurts.