Friday 18 January 2013

Training Around an Injury

Last week I had an accident on the gymnastics rings. I was an idiot and did everything wrong (e.g. no spotter, no mat, wrong ring height, etc). In addition to smashing my foot into concrete and learning a good lesson the hard way, I got a chance to practice what I preach - whenever possible and without doing further harm or delaying recovery, always look for ways to train around an injury instead of just stopping all together. I thought I would share what I did to work around this issue in hopes of sparking your creativity should you ever find yourself in my situation.
Modified foot-friendly 1-arm DB Row

My new training plan:
While I normally train 4 days per week, I decided to trim the training down to 3 during this modified program. This was helpful from a time perspective. One thing I realized is how much time it takes to be injured. Doctor visits, x-rays and hobbling around at a fraction of my normal walking speed ate up a ton of time. In addition to this, I had to explain my stupidity to countless caring people who wanted to know what happened. 3 days per week was also helpful to prevent over-working the areas I can train. 
Since cool exercises like squats and deadlifts are temporarily out of the equation (I miss them dearly), I decided to focus on upper body (which my body always needs more work on anyways) and experiment with whatever leg exercises I could do that didn't put direct pressure on the foot. I decided to take a Chad Waterbury flair to the program and do 3 upper body training sessions, each with different main movement patterns, reps and loads.

Day 1: 
1a) Incline Press: 6x7,5,3,7,5,3
1b) Kneeling 1-Arm DB Row: 6x7.
2a) Ring Dips: 3 set of max reps with body weight
2b) Ring Inverted Rows (with biceps emphasis): 4 sets max reps with body weight
Modified Incline Press
Day 1 Notes: 
  • 6x7,5,3,7,5,3 is wave loading. First set is 7 reps, second you add weight and do 5, third set you add more weight and do 3. Then you repeat that wave one more time with a little more weight for each set of the second wave. 
  • The incline press worked great because I had a bench that I could hang my foot over with no additional pressure on it (it also meant no leg drive, but oh well).
  • The kneeling 1-Arm DB Row also worked great to keep the stress off my foot.
  • For arms, I used the gymnastic rings as they are fast and easy on the joints. 
  • Biceps emphasis on rows means more elbow flexion and focus on the biceps, not the upper back
  • I tried Glute-Ham Raises the other day and they felt okay on the foot. I plan to add these in with the incline press and the DB row next Monday
Day 2: 
1) Leg Extensions: 5x10
2) Blast Strap Inverted Rows:  50 total reps
3) Blast Strap Weighted Push-Ups: 50 total reps
4a) Ring Dips: 3 set of max reps with body weight
4b) Ring Inverted Rows (with biceps emphasis): 4 sets max reps with body weight

Day 2 Notes: 
  • Leg Extensions: I normally do not use (or even like) this exercise. I used it because I wanted to try to keep some muscle on my quads without putting pressure on my foot. That night, my left knee told me it hated me for doing them. Back to the drawing board...
  • Blast strap rows and push-ups both allowed me foot-friendly positions
  • With total reps, I took a weight I could do about 10 reps the first set and did set after set with one minute rest until I had completed all 50 reps. 
Day 3: 
1a) Kneeling 1-Arm DB Press: 10x3
1b) Weighted Neutral-Grip Pull-Ups: 10x3
1c) Weighted Back Extensions: 10x3

2a) Ring Dips: 3 set of max reps with body weight
2b) Ring Inverted Rows (with biceps emphasis): 4 sets max reps with body weight

Day 3 Notes:
  • The kneeling 1-arm press worked great at keeping my hips and core feeling like a normal standing press. I went 1-arm so I could have the other arm ready to grab the edge of the power rack should I lose balance. 
  • Because my injury was more fore-foot, back extensions provide a way to give my glutes and hamstrings some work without direct foot compression.
I hope this helps to give you some ideas. One other important lesson I've learned is to always appreciate a healthy, fully-functioning body when you are suffering through a hard set of squats and deadlifts (I can't wait to get back to these lifts). 

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