Most of you know my story and how I evolved into the trainer and person I’ve become today. Decades in the gym, both with clients and on my own, and thousands of training hours have shaped my philosophies regarding training, nutrition, and most importantly how to set goals and achieve them.
But along the way I’ve suffered set backs and injuries as part of my trials and tribulations. Recently, I hurt my lower back terribly while squatting in the gym and wrote about it in my Out Of Action post. It was so bad I could hardly walk, sit, or sleep for nearly a week, and even once it subsided a bit, I needed a cane to get around. Long story short – it sucked.
Well just the other day while in the gym and performing biceps concentration curls, I heard and felt a pop in my left bicep, right where the attachment is on the top of the elbow, and down a bit towards my forearm. Next came a searing pain that truthfully scared the heck out of me as I thought I had torn my biceps.
For those who don’t know, a torn biceps is unsightly and also quite expensive and painful to repair. I took a look and…it was still there, although a little swollen and a slightly different shape. So I’m guessing it’s a mild tear of the outer biceps head, as it looks a little bit shorter than it did, although it’s barely noticeable to most.
I didn’t see a doctor because there’s nothing they could do, so unlike my back injury where I kept working out and most likely made the injury worse, I stopped immediately, grabbed ice from the front desk and left the gym – see, I can learn too! I’ve been resting, icing, massaging a bit, and taking ibuprofen for a few days and today it feels much better, although I’m still aware that an injury is present.
But here’s why I’m telling you this –once again I injured myself while performing a non-functional movement. Years ago I had shoulder surgery, then groin surgery, then my cervical spine, then the back injury and now my biceps! In all of these instances I’m a firm believer that they were the result of heavy weight training and bodybuilder type movements. I’ve regularly used 50-pound dumbbells for years with concentration curls, but the other day, I guess the tendons said “Enough Already!” After all I’m 37 now, and while that’s not old, I don’t have the recovery, healing, or resilience to injury that I did in my twenties. I can’t, it’s a fact of aging. So why train like I’m a kid?
I like to look at exercise programs and diet as if we were in nature, without plans and programs to follow. That’s why I started my Anger Management Fitness class, to mimic using your body in truly functional ways, instead of just pushing a big weight from A to B. So the question becomes when will you ever need to curl a 50-pound weight in a controlled motion? Or any exercise in which it’s only one-dimensional and along a controlled, repetitive path? When does that happen in life and how does that improve your life or fitness? Never, that’s when. Now we’re getting into the nooks and crannies of Angry Training.
While I gave up most of my heavy training in recent years, I still continue to use some traditional movements like curls, extensions, dumbbell laterals etc. in my training. Well for the next 6 weeks I’m giving it all up in favor of only multi joint, compound exercises like pull and chin ups, dips, TRX, lunges, kettlebells, and anything else that challenges my body to work together, as a unit, not just one muscle group as the sole target. When you look at the body, everything has a purpose, a reason, for why it works as it does, and what it works alongside to accomplish tasks. You can see that not one single muscle group is a structure that’s designed to work all alone, without assistance from a friend. Yet many exercises do just that – isolate a muscle.
I’m not a believer in coincidence at all. I believe that I was injured because at that moment the load was just too great for the biceps structure to handle. It was focused and intense energy that caused the injury, an energy that in real life never would exist.
As with everything here on Angry Trainer Fitness, I share my own experience in an effort to help you with your training. I’m not suggesting you never use curls or any isolation exercises in your program. I write them in my programs, but in a way that they’ll be used as part of a circuit, and rarely as a stand-alone exercise. I’m the exception to the rule in that I’ve been lifting weights since I’m 13 years old, that’s 24 years on my proverbial weight belt! The only real way for me to gauge a difference in training styles and how I feel is too completely eliminate those movements for a period of time and follow up with my observations.
Meanwhile why don’t you share with me some of your own training lessons and stories. Do you train differently to how you used to? What have been your biggest fitness mistakes? And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way…?