Having long-term injuries and facing various other barriers to exercise can certainly be a frustrating hindrance on ones potential goals. Do I take it easy for a few months? How much of my progress is going to be sacrificed during said rest period? What am I actually working towards? These are all questions faced by active individuals, passionate about bettering themselves each day, even if it does not bear further application to a particular sport or goal. Ultimately –and this is something I have come to identify when assessing my own diet and supplementation for the purpose of injury prevention– at some point our bodies will naturally want to start putting the brakes on. Many of us that have an incline to competitive/impact sports even at a non-professional level, will soon have to weigh up the risks and further implications said activity may have in the future.
Although I had dabbled in a number of sports before going to high school, when I was first introduced to Rugby, it seemed all of the traits impeding me in other fields could finally be put to some good use. I was never the most technical player, crediting the entirety of a game on how many big shots I could put on people without getting caught offside, even if that meant getting blindsided nearly even time. In hindsight, even picking up the odd sprain and taking a few bad knocks on the knees was enough to put my training –off the pitch– on hold for a good few weeks, is this really worth it? >The question that has to be applied to almost anything with the potential to pose further complications, moving forward. As I have continued to reiterate the importance of building a solid foundation and consolidating good technique with volume, a similar crossroad has presented itself –go heavier, increased risk of injury? go lighter, increased risk of complacency and plateau? This is the point to which both the egotistical and logical platforms of the brain collide, an outcome determined by whichever system has control.
In relation to creating an ideal environment for the body to withstand stress and recover accordingly, injury prevention is also a matter that can be aided through sound nutrition and relevant supplementation –regardless of whether you’re committed to a particular training regime for a short period or in it for the long hall. Then there’s always pre-emptive approach; wearing knee wraps/sleeves for squats, always incorporating a sufficient warm up and maintaining a fluid range of movement to name just a few staples of good practice. My point resides more so on the side of planning and conditioning the body for stress, before shocking it into an eventual submission. Meaning that if you aren’t a strength athlete or Powerlifter, prolong the time and weight to which you may only be able to do a handful, for ‘special occasions’ if you like. These will be coming on the back of absolute consistency in all aspects and nothing else. When you look around the gym and observe the expanse of people in all shapes and sizes, notice how their training approach reflects on their physique? The water babies and the monsters? Will repeated and continuous overload do their joints any favours? Probably not. Before we get onto the second point of setting realistic goals, take the time to consider the implications of your particular training method in its entirety; risks as well as benefits, managing them accordingly. If your goal is strength, be sure to factor in de-load weeks, ensure longer rest times between sets and do not let adrenaline warrant training with injuries. On the flip-side, prepare for higher rep ranges and tempos with a relevant warm-up that imitates the more ballistic movements to avoid overloading tendons/joints specifically.
Setting goals for a lot of people is exciting; marking the groundwork for possibilities in ‘X’ amount of days/weeks/months, but setting realistic goals is something that comes with experience of progressive capability and adherence. Plainly put, ‘effective’ goals would never be constructed by averages and guess-work. Bench Press, WEEK1-110/WEEK2-120/WEEK3-130 does not mean that you should be pressing 140 by the following week. As I previously mentioned the implications of adrenaline during such a decision, note that just because you can throw every ounce of strength into the short time of of a rep does not mean that you can lift it correctly. I’ve already narrowed down my readership by now so I know I won’t be offending anyone with this question, Would you rather say you can press 150,badly and look like shit? Or, comfortably rack out reps of even half the amount and continue to see positive changes. This is what it all boils down to, respecting the fact that particular sports and athletes would be required to consistently train heavy to satisfy a particular total, but these guys probably don’t plan on looking like the average dude. In terms of setting realistic weight goals and the time frame in which you expect to be successful, be aware of how losing half a stone one week may not gage your ability to do the same the next. Just as one cannot be expected to add on an additional 10KG each week working up to a 1RM. The two topics of the title do go hand in hand, in the sense that setting realistic goals, whether that be weight or strength, will alleviate and prevent too much stress being induced by the body, we do only get given one, treat it with respect.