Big muscles; bad joints. That has been a unspoken axiom in the world of weights and strength training since the beginning. The mental toughness to push through injury is a valuable attribute…but so is the wisdom to avoid injury in the first place.
Colors; a movie from 1987. Sean Penn and Robert Duvalle portraying 2 LA policeman (bet LA cops are having a good time in 2020? Try 2021…) Anywho, Robert shares a story to Sean- “Two bulls, father and son, at the top of a hill see a valley of cows. The son says-Hey dad, let’s run down into the valley and screw one of those cows. The dad replies-Son, let’s walk down…and screw them all.”
In that spirit I will share a few pointers to ensure you not only get the results you want from your efforts in the gym….eh, I mean, social distanced exercise area…but importantly- avoid the outcomes you do not want…becoming a cripple!
Most people, hell virtually everyone, has bilateral asymmetry. Translation; the right and left sides of their bodies do not match- are uneven. (The solution to asymmetry is zhang zhuang…tendon changing classic. overview of that is coming-stay tuned.)
One leg functionally longer than the other. One shoulder higher than the other. More range of motion in one hip over the other. In simple terms, your two sides are just a little bit different.
So why treat different shoulders, knees, etc the same way? DON”T. BUT…That is exactly what you do when you use barbells.
The barbell is fixed unit and your uneven body must adapt to it. While the barbell IS effective, it will also expose your joints to uneven stress IF you are uneven….& you are uneven.
Notice that virtually ALL long time lifters- Lifer Lifters, inevitably gravitate away from barbell bench, then deadlift, and finally squat? This is a BIG reason why.
Yes testing your limits with stupid heavy lifting is also a factor (a reason I advocate practicing sets of 3 for limit strength over testing one rep max-unless you are a powerlifter-because that is your sport.)
But many shoulders have been wrecked with barbell presses. And curls. With medium weights.
And it only takes one simple change to eliminate 70% of the injury risk. Just switch to dumbbells. Or kettlebells. The fancy term is unilateral doubles.
By loading both sides, both arms, both legs, but doing it with 2 weights instead of one, you now ensure the bio-mechanical freedom of each side to move in it’s natural arc. Custom loading for each side, allowing for freedom of movement.
Yes, I know you won’t move as much weight. 225 on a bench press might equate to a pair of 90-100 pound dumbbells. However, your joints will thank you, and your stabilizer muscles will benefit even more. You will actually be stronger in real life; and more durable.
Stop risking your shoulders, back and knees with barbells. At least for a month. Or reduce the volume by 2/3. Switch to farmer’s walk lunges & 1 leg deadlifts with dumbbells. By working one leg at a time you will reduce the total weight needed, but still expose each side to high load.
Can you farmer walk lunge your bodyweight for 20 reps? 1 leg deadlift your bodyweight for 5 reps? It’s no joke. And your back and knees will love you!
Ok, let put some pictures here.