Recovery is Slipping

As I stated last week in detail, things are going about as well as I could ask them to be going at this point.  I noted that I am basically on cruise control and I am riding out my plan for the next 2 months as it is.  I said this just in time to start having some pretty achy joints -- specifically, my knees.

My knees were so bad that I almost couldn't finish training quads.  In fact, if I had it to do over again, I would have cut the workout short because in hindsight, I took the biggest gamble that I have taken in over 15 months of this last growth phase.  I could have really screwed myself and yet I still talked myself into continuing -- be very careful -- but continuing, when I shouldn't have.

Fortunately, I was fine and though I was convinced my knees were going to hurt pretty bad for several days, they ended up not being sore, tight or inflamed, at all.  Still, I feel that I could have been one rep from blowing out a quad tendon.  

What happens when you get locked into how well things are going and into consistency for so long, is you get a bit complacent and you feel that if you haven't been injured in 15 months, you will be fine if you are "careful."  Being careful, is not PRing hacks and then going on to squats when your quad tendons are so inflamed (both of them) that in between sets you are having to take 2-3 minutes to squat down deeper and deeper against a railing with just your body weight so that you can do the next set with a full ROM.

What this did is it made me step back and analyze my training to see if this was a one-off (just went too heavy on a sharp-angled hack squat and irritated the quad tendons) or if I was actually bordering on overtraining and starting to slip with recovery.  The problem is that I had just started to progress quite a bit with strength in the last 3 weeks and hacks had gone up about 100 pounds AND 4 more reps.  So, the muscle is recovering but the quad tendons may have been stressed too much.

Because recovery is not typically just focused on one muscle but is systemic, I looked at everything else and realized that there were a few small aches and pains but nothing major.  However, those small aches and pains are still significant in the big picture and so I decided to cut my volume just a bit as I had recently been feeling like a truck hit me after every training session, even though the sessions have been very good.

I decided simply to drop my volume by roughly 25-30%.  This was accomplished primarily by dropping my working sets to 2 instead of 3 for all exercises.  The logic is that as I finish a blast phase, I don't want to cause any issues with aches and pains or minor injuries that I might have to carry into a cutting phase.  I would rather cut the workload back, keep intensity up, and still grow while minimizing any risk of overtraining.  

I have been doing this all week and it is already paying off.  I am psychologically more fresh and physically I am not feeling like I have been hit by a truck after a training session.  It is also allowing me to keep up with my more frequent training rotation as the other option was that I was going to cut the frequency back but didn't want to do that.

This game remains a constant practice of application and analyzation -- even after 35 years.  If you aren't willing to be flexible and respond reactively to what your body is telling you, bad things can and likely will happen.  How do I know?  Because I didn't listen to my body very well over the last 2 years and I caused myself a lot of problems.  You can very rarely force your body to do anything, whether it is getting leaner or getting bigger and stronger before your body pushes back.  The game is more coercion than it is forcing it to change.

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