Brains and Brawn… Slow Down, But Don’t Stop

Published 1:15 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

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Injuries and illness are among the harder things a weightlifter has to deal with. After dealing with a setback and recovering, it is challenging to get back in the gym. 

Even when you do manage to get back to lifting, you will see those hard-won gains have partly evaporated, and it can be seriously depressing.

At these times, it is important to set realistic goals, be consistent, and slowly but surely reclaim what you have lost.

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There are many kinds of strength a person can possess, and this situation will test both your physical and mental strength. 
Being a good winner is easy. So, when things are going well with your training, it is easy to keep a positive mindset and bring a lot of energy to your workouts.

When you are coping with an injury or illness though, you may have to significantly reduce the amount of weight and reps you would typically do.

This can feel like a great loss, and can lead to questions like; “Why do I even bother?”

Well, the answer to that one is, to be a better you. When you regularly exercise, you are healthier in mind and body, and even though you may not have retained all of the physical strength you had before the setback, the mental strength and muscle memory you gained will persist. 
Many strength athletes I have known are not able to continue to work out after their first big setback. They just give up and go on with their lives.

While that is understandable in some cases, almost all of the time recovery can be had through the same hard work and sacrifice that you were already dedicating to your workouts before the setback happened. 

A friend and fellow lifter from Elizabethton named Jeremy Hunt comes to mind when I think about lifters overcoming injury. Jeremy suffered major injuries in a car accident and lost most of the use of his legs.

Any normal person would have thrown in the towel on weightlifting at that point, but not Jeremy. 

He trained harder than ever, focusing on bench press on other upper body movements. I witnessed Jeremy bench press 405 lbs. for reps and it looked like a warm-up lift.

An amazing feat by any standard, but especially considering the adversity he had to overcome to make it back to that point. Jeremy was an inspiration to me as a young lifter and I am sure he was to many others.

My fellow author of Brains and Brawn articles Alex Campbell and his recent recovery from COVID is another example of overcoming a huge setback.

Alex went from an incredibly fit and strong person to near death in just a matter of days when he was dealing with COVID-19. After recovering enough to return home from the hospital, Alex was barely able to walk. 

As soon as it was possible, he returned to the gym. Alex had to start basically from scratch to rebuild his strength.

He began by lifting only the bar and small kettlebells. He was out of breath on every rep, but he gutted it out and slowly but surely got stronger.

This week, about 7 weeks out from his hospitalization Alex was back to lifting massive weight in the squat. He lifted about 95% of what we were lifting before his near-deadly encounter with COVID-19.

Next week, we plan on tackling 100%. He did this by not taking on too much too soon and never giving up. 

I believe he would not have recovered nearly as fast without the weight training.

So, if you find yourself down due to injury or illness, don’t give up on working out.

Instead, make a plan for a slow and steady recovery and follow it. Do not let injury or illness take away things that matter to you.

Slow down, but don’t stop.