It has been said that you're not a serious lifter until you've come back from your first real injury, and while this may or may not be true, there's no question that the best powerlifters know how to recover from an injury and come back stronger. While the physical side of the rehabilitation process gets most of the attention, there's another side that is just as if not more important: the mental recovery. If you're scared of a weight, you're not going to be able to lift it, even if your body is strong enough. For today's Table Talk, Dave responds to a question about building confidence after an injury:

"When coming back from a serious injury that requires surgery, what advice can you give to help with the mental fear people can have when trying to lift heavy again?"

As additional background information, the question comes from a person who has had multiple surgery-requiring injuries, seven weeks apart from each other. He still has fear when deadlifting over 405, so he only uses an overhand grip and has limited the weight he has used.

WATCH: Table Talk — How Dave Supported Himself as a Powerlifter Before elitefts

Disclaimer: Dave is neither a physical therapist nor a doctor. The information he shares is only an account of his personal experience and is not to be taken as medical advice.

In answering this question, Dave says that there is a short-term and a long-term approach to injury rehabilitation. To determine which route to take, when giving advice to elitefts team members, Dave asks an important question: when is your next competition and how important is it to you?

There's always a way to get to the next meet after an injury, even if that meet is only four weeks away. But every time that you do that and use an aggressive approach to get through an injury, you're probably going to pull a year off the back end of your career. You can push to get ready for a meet in a short time period after an injury, but in the long run you'll pay for it. So this should only happen if and when the competition is one that's incredibly important to you.

Regardless of the timetable, however, you have to deal with the mental side of things. As he has confessed time and time again, Dave is biased toward a Westside, or conjugate, style of training, so his answer is based on a training program that revolves around dynamic effort and max effort days. With that in mind, Dave shares several of his most significant injuries.

For his first serious injury, a pec tear that required tendon reattachment, Dave took a conservative route after a doctor told him he'd never bench 405 again (at the time Dave's raw bench was 520 and he felt he could have done 560). After the doctor shared this with him, despite doubting the assessment, Dave developed an engrained fear of the weight any time his bench press would get up to the 315 or 365 weight range. With pec tears, there's often scar tissue damage that happens while you're going through the recovery process. It will feel like your pec has torn again, even though it is likely just scar tissue. This happened to Dave for almost a year after the reattachment, which made him very gun-shy and kept him scared of the weight.

Fortunately, at the time Dave was at Westside. What this meant was that every time he'd pull back from the weight out of fear, someone in the gym would push him. In this case it was Kenny Patterson, who would throw tissues at him and tell him to stop crying. He was pushed continually to stop being scared. It took almost a year to overcome the fear, but he did.

MORE: How to Heal Any Injury Overnight

The second surgery Dave had was on his shoulder, and for this rehabilitation he used a different approach. He came straight out, after consulting with several physical therapists who thought he was insane, and didn't change his training at all. He kept in max effort work and dynamic effort work and did his rehabilitation work afterward.

His first max effort day, two days after surgery, was a reverse band press with a broomstick to a four-board. He could barely get his arm up to grab the bar but still wanted to find a way to teach the tissue and his mind to strain, even if only at the weight of a broomstick. His thought process was that if he had to strain with under 45 pounds, and the next session with 65 pounds, and then 85 pounds, and so forth, once he got up to heavy weight, he would already know that he could strain without getting re-injured. He would have already strained for three to five seconds with lighter weight dozens of times, so he wouldn't have to be afraid of straining with heavy weights again. In this case, he dealt with the mental aspect from day one rather than building weight up over time and then having to address the mental side of things.

Dave used a similar approach to his hip replacement and shared the plan with his surgeons and physical therapists beforehand, which led to several modifications such as tempo and box height adjustments. His advice is that, no matter what approach you use, consult with a physical therapist ahead of time.