Training Around an Injury: Weak Point Troubleshooting

TAGS: Roller Hyper Leg Curls, Roller Reverse Hypers, Back Raise Deadlifts, Good Morning and GHR Combo, hip hinge movements, weak point training, training around an injury, leg curls, matt ladewski, deadlift

In my last article, we talked about a few ideas when training around an injury. However, I left out my favorite and perhaps most powerful method, which is time off focused on addressing weak points.

Making the Parts Strong

If you get hurt, your ability to hit the big lifts might be hindered. During this time, you need to find ways to work on the parts in ways that don’t aggravate your injury. For my deadlift, I worked on improving my hamstrings and back when I couldn’t do any compound movements with my knee.

“You don’t have any hamstrings!”

Those are the exact words Louie told me on a visit to Westside in 2006. This was only a few months after I squatted 825 and deadlifted 705 at 236 (in 2006, these were really decent numbers). I thought, “this guy has finally lost his mind. I can do glute hams for days, I work my hamstrings hard and my numbers are respectable.”

It took me almost three years but I finally realized that Louie was right. It took me all three years to figure out why. My box squat technique led to back development but left my hamstrings lagging behind. I needed to change my course of action.

What Isn't Moving?

Around the same time I accepted that I had weak hamstrings, I was fighting a swollen knee. I took this time to take time off of squatting and look for my weak points, simply by analyzing which exercises hadn't been improving.

Squatting had been producing the most swelling in my knee, so that was immediately placed on the list of exercises I wouldn't be doing. Thus, I turned to my deadlift, which had been stagnant ever since my knee had started giving me trouble, and corresponding weak hamstrings for three months.

MORE: Training Around an Injury: Warm-Ups, Effective Dose, and Balance

I looked at my choices for max effort exercises and picked out those that had gone stagnant along with my sumo deadlift. I choose conventional deadlifts with the plates raised three inches, sumo stiff legged deadlifting, and rackable camber bar good mornings. These were the only three max effort exercises I used for the next three months. After three months, I broke my deadlift PR by 10 pounds and maintained my squat to 80% of its best without squatting.

The Key to My Success – Hip Hinge Movements

Take notice. Each one of the exercises I chose to work on is heavily dependent on the hip hinge strength. What I found true for myself I have also found true for every person that comes in my gym. They are totally forgetting the movements or doing them in the wrong, generally lazy, way.

The following three supersets are my favorites to smash the hamstrings. I choose these for a few reasons: they don’t hurt and don’t cause my knee to grind, the first of the pair is hip hinge and the second is knee flexion, and lastly because one hits hard and heavy and the other compliments it with a great pump.

Good Morning and GHR Combo

I've had quite a bit of practice with this, and I've finally landed on a favorite way to develop hamstrings. This combination of knee flexion and hip extension is great. It is a heavy good morning in the 6-8 rep range alternated with glute ham raises in the 12-15 reps range. Three to four rounds should have you screaming for mercy.

I've only found one adjustment to this necessary. Glute ham raises are a great but once you can do 12 reps per set you'll need to add a band, with the band being chosen over straight weight so that it's hardest at the top (taxing hams at the hip) and do-able at the bottom. Start with a mini band and earn your way up to a strong band. If you only have one band, then jack up the back end of the GHR. No bands? Get some!

Back Raise Deadlifts and Leg Curls (Band, Ball or TRX)


This is the only superset with a bar in your hands. Simply do a 45-degree back raise with a barbell in your hands. Treat it like a deadlift and get your lats tight; you’ll find this really works them hard and can really help develop the ability to keep the bar close while pulling. Then pump with some leg curls. I keep the back raise deadlifts under eight reps and the leg curls at twelve or more.

If you are reading this I assume you know how to do various leg curls. If you do not please visit the exercise index for a number of ideas.

Roller Reverse Hypers and Roller Hyper Leg Curls

This one might ruin your plans for the weekend — unless you’ve planned to lie still and watch a movie, in which case, you’re set!

I like this combo because it takes vertical compression of the spine out of the equation. Other than the results, I can’t say there is much else to like. I stay between ten and fifteen reps for the roller reverse hypers and between eight and ten for the leg curl.

You can do them separately resting between sets or as one giant set like in the video. You can do either first.

Advanced version: Once the weight is leg curled up, arch your back and squeeze your glutes like you are doing regular reverse hypers.


Injuries can hurt you mentally just as much as physically, but if you’re willing to learn from those who have weathered the same storm before you, then you can recover or at least extend your career of doing what you love: powerlifting. Don’t give up, don’t give in. Use these tools in this article and seek out more specific help if and when you need it. If you’re reading this, you’re not normal; you don’t want to settle. So don’t!


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