The title caught you off guard, didn’t it? Yep – you read it correctly. I am going to give you a step by step guide on how you can injure yourself lifting weights. I usually write about what you can add to your training or lifestyle to develop positive outcomes, but wanted to shed light on the very real negatives that you can experience with improper training methods.
Full disclosure – I am writing this in my bed as I recover from a L5-S1 Microdiscectomy that I had 2 weeks ago. Did you hear the audience scoff at a fitness professional suffering a real-life setback? If you know so much about training, how did you get hurt? Yes, I love to lift heavy weights. No, that may not have helped my pre-existing back injury over time. Yes, I got back surgery to fix it after years of alternative methods. Yes, I learned a ton along the way – and I want to share it with you so that you don’t ever have to go down this path.
This is a definitive guide on how you can immediately turn training from a beneficial activity into a highly risky one. Some of these things I’ve learned from firsthand experience in my own life while others I’ve witnessed from afar. Some are just common sense, or at least you’d think. I can’t say that I’ve done all these myself, but I definitely have learned a lot about training through and around pain. Do these ten things, and you’ll surely get injured. Avoid them? Well, you’ll probably get bigger, faster, stronger, healthier and continue to do so for a long time.
#1 Chase Performance Numbers
If you want to get hurt, chasing numbers is an excellent way to go. It’s foolproof. You’ll eventually end up staring at a loaded-up barbell that is probably 15-30 pounds heavier than your comfort level. But your program says you should be lifting 90% of your highly overestimated 1RM for 3 reps, so you lift that sucker off the ground with no regard for anything else in life other than achieving 3 reps. You get them, but it doesn’t look or feel pleasant.
That scenario happens every day in every weight room around the world. I’ve done it. I’ve seen people do it. It must stop. Chasing numbers during training is a recipe for disaster. Chasing numbers during competition or leading up to a lifting competition is a slightly different conversation, but overall it’s still not the brightest idea.
Chase those PR’s every time you step foot in the gym and you’ll definitely run into some kind of injury within a few months.
#2 Force Feed Exercises into Programming
Another great way to get injured is to force feed yourself “popular” exercises. Don’t consider any individualization based on your needs or goals, just make sure you force the barbell bench press, barbell conventional deadlift from the floor and barbell back squat into your programming no matter what.
If you want to make this even more effective at sparking an injury, you should look for exercises that don’t have any progressions or regressions and aim for movements that put you in positions you don’t have the mobility or strength for.
#3 Always Stick to Your Program
Speaking of programming, I have another awesome way to get hurt based on that topic. Stick to your program 100% no matter what. Make sure you don’t auto-regulate based on external or internal factors that are effecting your life or health. No matter how sad or bad of a mood you’re in, how little sleep you got the night before or how poorly you’ve eaten this week – GO BALLS TO THE WALL. Your program is the most genius program you’ve ever written, you have to stick to it at all times.
If you’re looking for a program to follow to the “T” and enhance your risk of injury, look into percentage based training, CrossFit or your favorite Instagram celebrity’s latest eBook.
#4 Listen to Everyone
Do not listen to your body. Listen to everyone else around you who can’t feel what you feel during training. Make sure you check 7-10 fitness blogs a day looking for new training advice and implement every single piece into your life immediately and indefinitely. This is a great way to really put yourself in an awesome position to get injured due to the multitude of training methods that you don’t fully understand yet being injected into your program all at once.
And, when you do get injured, keep listening to everyone to make it worse. Blindly scour the internet for self-help techniques and try everything all at once again during recovery. The key is to have what I call “Shiny Object Syndrome.” Start a treatment, then as soon as something cool or promising comes along, jump straight into it without allowing your first treatment to take its course. Do that over and over and it’ll be great for staying banged up.
#5 Train Around Clueless People
This is the most underrated tip on the list. You need to surround yourself with an environment that is the exact opposite of what your fitness goals are. For example, if you want to be a super strong and jacked dude, go to Planet Fitness. If you’re looking one of the quickest ways to hurt yourself, you have to make sure you’re surrounded with incompetent people who can’t help you.
This works so well because you’ll never be able to get form feedback, spotters for big lifts, training/nutrition advice and won’t have people around you to push you towards your greatness. It’s one of the best-kept secrets for getting injured quickly.
#6 Downplay Recovery
Go, go, go! Train your tail off 7 days a week. #NoDaysOff #RiseAndGrind #TrainInsaneOrRemainTheSame You have to do whatever it takes to get the #GAINZ. Recovery isn’t sexy. Resting doesn’t get you Instagram likes, bruh. So just don’t do it!
Who cares about hydration, nutrition, sleep and supplementation? Screw it. Just bang weights like it’s your job and don’t look back. You’ll be so shocked at how fast you burn out and start to deteriorate.
For best results, mix this tip with a few of the former points to really get that compounding effect. Maybe stick to your program 100% and surround yourself with clueless training partners every single day? That should do the trick.
#7 Train Like Someone Else
If you have any fitness role models or famous elite athletes you idolize, this is your chance to use that for a way to induce injury. Find someone wicked strong and way more advanced that you and mimic everything they do. Stick to someone else’s plan as much as you can because it’s tailored to them, not you.
Again, now we can begin to compound several of these tips and tricks together to get a really immediate and severe injury in the works.
#8 Work Out Instead of Training
Do you follow an individualized program tailored to your goals and specific mechanical needs of your body? Is it a long-term plan with specific and intentional exercise, set, rep, rest, etc. selection?
STOP! That’s called training.
If you want to get hurt, you need to work out. Training is for people who want to make continued progress for years to come, that’s not what you’re in it for. Remember, this is all about how to get injured.
Working out is a great option because it’s cheap (or free) and you can be super lazy about it. You don’t have to think or have a plan in place, you can just wing it every day until you blow your shoulder out and get sidelined for 6 months.
#9 Make the Gym a Social Scene
This is another underrated major key. The gym, contrary to popular belief, is not for hard work, sweat and near-tears. This is a fun zone, people. Socialize. Flirt with literally human you encounter if you find them remotely attractive. Make conversation with anyone who looks like they’re working hard. You have to really make the gym your social scene.
This is a super important factor for finding your way to pain because the better you get at the social side of things, the worse you’ll get at the physical side of training. Now when you try to hit the gas on your training, your body is totally in shock because, well, you don’t even lift.
#10 Be Stubborn
Last, but certainly not least – you need to be stubborn. Feed that ego. Pain is just weakness leaving the body, right? You need to find all the pain. Be a hard-headed fool and don’t stop until you’re on the phone with your doctor.
Bringing It All Home
As you probably picked up 2 minutes into reading, I’m being sarcastic here. These are some very common trends I see among injured athletes and lifters. But, make no mistake, this is the premier guide to getting yourself into a painful situation. If you really want to lift for longevity and performance, avoiding these things are crucial to your success.
One thing to remember is nobody is perfect. As I said, at one point in my life, I’ve partaken in some of these stupid acts of ego and it may have even played a small role in my injury. I’m sure you can relate. Hopefully my message gets across that these are things to pay attention to and learn from during your athletic or coaching career.
Justin Ochoa is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach and the Co-Owner of PACE Fitness Academy in Indianapolis, IN. He enjoys working with a wide variety of clients ranging from high-level athletes to rehabilitation patients. No matter the goal or experience level, Justin’s coaching philosophy is that everyone is an athlete. His focus is helping his athletes bring out the absolute best of their mental and physical potential, and then continuing to raise the bar for continued success and results.