You Ask, We Answer (Round 1, Part 4)
These are your questions. You asked—we answered.
Steve: Okay, our next question comes to us from Luke Camp, and he says, "When's the right time to go heavy after an injury?"
Dave: I'm going to preface this. I'm not a doctor, I'm not a physical therapist, I have no background in therapy at all, you shouldn't listen to anything I say, you shouldn't do anything that I tell you to do. Everything that I'm going to say is based upon my own personal opinion and my own personal experience. You shouldn't do what I say. You shouldn't follow my lead. I think that covers all of my disclaimers. Now, the answer. My answer, and how I did it. Me. Not anybody else. The one thing that I saw with injuries, and it wasn't addressed in a question that I was asked before, and that was the mental aspect. If it's a muscle tissue injury, a tendon injury, something that's not, you know, a joint, and a lot of times if it's a tendon tear or a muscle tear, they're drilling that thing back in with a screw and they're sewing it together. It's really... once it's started to lay down scar tissue and heal, it's not really going to go anywhere. You might tear the other one, but that one... I don't want to say that it's bullet proof, but it's pretty solid. You know, when they re-attached my pec tendon, you know, it was screwed back in there and I was told that it's stronger than what this one is. So the only limiting factor then is kind of mental. And what I've seen with guys who come back—pec tears I'll use as an example because I've dealt with that a lot, with muscle tears and strains and ruptures—is, say my first pec strain happened at 315, and I take my time coming back. Scar tissue is going to form. Scar tissue, more than likely, is also going to tear away at a certain point in time. As soon as I start to get close to 315, you get real gun shy. "Shit, this is when it happened..." You also get real gun shy when you start to strain. You know, especially if it happened when you were straining. So you start pushing into it and you start thinking, "man, I hope it doesn't go. I hope it doesn't go." And that's how it was throughout a lot of the strains and tears and so forth that I had. When I changed it and tried something different, and I'm not saying it's the right way—it's what I did, is after I had shoulder surgery for the first time, pretty much I was told that "you got the go-ahead. Do whatever you want to do." And this was two days after surgery—some getting Accurelease Therapy and all this other kind of stuff. And I had a doctor that was a little bit more progressive, and I ran some of the ideas past him that I wanted to do. You know, my goal was that I was still going to stick to the normal therapy that they have—you know, the bands, swimming pool shit...you know, all the other stuff you gotta do, but I wanted to bench. And I wanted to strain when I benched. Now, you're just out of surgery, so the first goal is to get full range of motion. You can't really do anything until you get full range of motion. So, once you get your range of motion back, you're good to go. So what I did was...when you're talking about going heavy—heavy is relative to how strong that muscle is and how strong the muscle connection is, the muscle firing is, and the muscle activation is. So I was doing board presses on, I remember doing a pre-board press, and I would have someone lift the bar out to me, and PWH. It hurt too bad just to hold it. So we went reverse band—reverse mini band, a 45-pound bar—and brought it down to a three-board, and it took forever to press it back up, and pressed it back up. Throughout time, I kept doing, you know, my normal standard rehab—the higher reps, all the other stuff you are supposed to do, but I kept doing those singles, you know, on different boards. When it was really light like that, a few times a week. As it got heavier, I had to knock it down. Because what I was really looking for out of that wasn't really strengthening the muscle. I wanted to convince myself that that tendon and that muscle could strain without blowing back apart. Alright, and I knew when it took 10 seconds to be able to push 65 pounds off a one-board to lockout, and it took everything I had to finish the lift with that arm, it's not going anywhere. Because that was the greatest strain I was going to be able to put it under. At that point, weight's only a marker. It's only a... it's relative. It's the strain that matters. So I think from that standpoint, what I learned is you got to build that confidence to where you are straining, and by doing that at 65 pounds, 135, 185... I never had that problem to where "Oh, shit. It's 600 pounds. This is where I blew it off last time." I'd already been straining for a long time before that. So, the answer is it's relative, and you need to work with, you know, your doctor and your therapist. But I do think that when you work with them, you need to make sure you're working with good ones and you got to throw out some progressive ideas like what I'm talking about. Because that mental aspect will absolutely, for most people I've seen, it will absolutely tear you up. It will destroy you because you just won't be able to...you're afraid every time you strain, you're going to get hurt. So, if you're going to be afraid, let's be afraid of 45 pounds, 65 pounds...that way, by the time you get to 225, the fear is gone.
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