Last night I was at the gym doing deadlifts. I had planned on doing two sets but I went a little heavier than I should have on my first set. As I stripped a plate off each side to prepare for my back off set I felt a twinge in my back while bending over. I stood up and tried to stretch out but it didn’t help much.
“Whatever,” I thought. I have had this happen a hundred times and have always plowed through it. I put the plates back and tightened up the collars.
When I finished writing in my training journal I dropped my pen and bent over to pick it up. Again my back felt like something wasn’t quite right. In the past I would have ignored these signs and would have tried to be tough and work through it.
This time was different though. I thought long and hard and concluded that I didn’t feel like getting injured again or at least being a little messed up for a few days.
So I skipped the set and unloaded the bar. I can’t tell you the last time I made such a smart decision in the weight room. It’s taken quite a few years but maybe I finally matured enough to not push through pain and hurt myself. I can only hope so.
This morning I woke up and felt great. I know for a fact that I would have felt terrible and would have been hobbling around all day if I did that second set. I have had the exact feeling plenty of times before.
Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
I have had several injuries in the gym over the last 20 years that could have been avoided if I trained smarter and listened to my body. My ego and relentless determination always got the best of me, however.
The morale of the story is that no matter how bad you want it, no matter how hardcore you are…you have to listen to your body. You can avoid so many injuries and continue to make great progress if you do. Some days you just won’t be able to generate any intensity no matter how hard you try. On days like that you probably shouldn’t be training. Don’t use it as an excuse, but if you are genuinely off your game that day, skip your workout or do less.
You will stay healthy and make continual progress. There is nothing worse than being on the shelf for three months with an injury. Trust me on that one. Smarter training equals better results.
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