Muscle for life

How to Prevent and Recover From Workout Injuries

How to Prevent and Recover From Workout Injuries

Workout injuries suck. Here’s how to dramatically reduce your risk of injury, and recover from one should it occur.


Like much of the advice in the world of health and fitness, the subject of avoiding and treating working injuries is full of broscience and gymlore.

Some people will say squatting past parallel puts your knees at risk. They’re wrong.

Others will say touching the bar to your chest on the bench press is bad for your shoulders. They’re wrong, too.

We’ve all heard that deadlifting is a surefire way to wreck our lower backs. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Nevertheless, as with any physical activity, the risk of injury is there. If you’ve lifted weights for any amount of time, you know someone that has gotten hurt.

Shoulder injuries and back injuries seem to be the most common, but there are many other strange types of injuries that leave us scratching our heads (“how the HELL did he/she manage to do that??”).

Well, in this article I want to talk about common mistakes that increase your risk of injury, and how to speed recovery if you’re currently injured, or sustain an injury in the future.

How Likely Are You to Sustain a Workout Injury?

The truth is many people use the boogieman of injury as an excuse to train improperly–to not push themselves, to use poor form, and so forth.

You see, weightlifting just isn’t a very dangerous activity. One study found that injuries sustained during recreational and competitive weightlifting are substantially lower than injuries from other sports such as football, gymnastics, and basketball.

Weightlifting injuries are on the rise, however, which is most likely because the number of people doing it are also on the rise. Mass movements like CrossFit don’t help either, as a bad instructor is all it takes for a large group of people to increase the risk of injury.

So, the good news is this: if you train with proper form and avoid the mistakes discussed below, your risk of injury is actually quite low. 

Let’s now look at the 4 most common mistakes people make in the gym that increase the risk of injury.

Injury Risk Mistake #1:
Lifting More Weight than You Can Handle

According to research conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, the most common way people injure themselves while weightlifting is dropping weights on themselves.

And how do people increase the risk of dropping weights on themselves?

They ego-lift. They stack the plates and just hope for the best.

I actually cringe when I see skinny guys load 3-4 plates on either side of the squat bar, only to perform shaky quarter reps with a spot. All it will take is a slightly too fast descent, or a momentary tweak of the back or knee, and Humpty Dumpty will have a great fall.








Trying to lift too much weight also puts excessive strain on your joints, tendons, and ligaments. By working with weights that you can properly handle, however, and by doing full, controlled reps, you not only avoid that problem, you also make better gains, and improve flexibility.

Here’s the bottom line: if you can’t get full reps, you’re using too much weight, and you’re increasing your risk of injury. Simply lighten the load, do full reps, improve your strength, and only move up in weight when you can keep it fully under control.

Injury Risk Mistake #2:
Using Bad Form

This is similar to the first mistake, but not the same.

Form mistakes go far beyond the heavy half repping that give a bad name to the big compound lifts like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press. You can work with proper amounts of weight and use a full range of motion and still put yourself at a considerable risk of injury.

For instance…

  • If you round your back during a deadlift, or hyperextend it too far at the top, you’re asking for a lower back injury.
  • If you flatten your back and round your shoulders at the top of a bench press, or flare your elbows out too much, you will probably have shoulder problems at some point.
  • If you let your knees bow in when you squat, or extend them too far past your toes, you can really hurt them when going heavy.
  • If you do your overhead/military presses behind your neck, and your body is built like most people’s, you’re increasing your risk of injury. (Strangely enough, some people’s bodies just mechanically can handle this type of movement, but most don’t do well with it.)

Most exercises have little quirks like these, which is why you should take the time to learn proper form on everything you’re doing, and make sure to stick to it.

Bodybuiling.com’s videos are a great resource for this, and you may also like my articles on how to deadlift and how to squat, as these are two vitally important lifts that many people do incorrectly.

Injury Risk Mistake #3: 
Failing to Warm Up Properly

Many people’s warm-up routines consist of a few minutes of static stretching.

This is a bad way to go about it.

Static stretching before exercise has been shown to impair speed and strength, and not only fail to help prevent injury, but possibly increase risk of injury due to the cellular damage it causes to muscle and its analgesic effect.

A proper warm-up routine should bring blood to the muscles that are about to be trained, increase suppleness, raise body temperature, and enhance free, coordinated movement.

The best way to do this is to move the muscles repeatedly through the expected ranges of motion, which does reduce the risk of injury.

That’s why I recommend a simple, short, multi-set warm-up routine in my books Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger, that goes like this:

 First Warm-Up Set

12 reps with 50% of your working set weight

Rest 60 seconds

Second Warm-Up Set

10 reps with 50% of your working set weight

Rest 60 seconds

Third Warm-Up Set

4 reps with 70% of your working set weight

Rest 60 seconds

Fourth Warm-Up Set

1 rep with 90% of your working set weight

Rest 120 seconds and then start your workout

By doing this warm-up routine, you will not only help prevent injury, but you will probably actually find that you can lift more weight while maintaining proper form.

Injury Risk Mistake #4: 

This might be obvious, but many people don’t quite get it:

If something is hurting, stop your set. Don’t try to push through pain.

If you experience pain, stop your set. If an exercise always bothers you, do something else.

Realize that pain is a warning that something is wrong, and if you don’t heed it, serious injury can follow.

Probably the worst injury I’ve witnessed was a guy in his 60s at a bench meet. He had just barely struggled out one rep with about 350, and then started rubbing his elbow. He then told the guys to load more weight so he can go for a PR. Everyone was rooting him on.

He gets under the bar, unracks it, gets halfway down and we hear a POP above the noise of the crowd. Fortunately, the spotters were on the ball and saved him from what looked like a near decapitation. His elbow blew out, and I overheard an idiot telling him to just ice it and he’ll be fine. Solid advice.

The point is don’t be stupid.

Aches and stiffness and such are common enough and usually go away once you warm up, but ignore and try to “alpha” your way through pain, and you’re asking to get hurt.

How to Recover From Workout Injuries

If you avoid the above mistakes, your chances for injury are quite low. But stuff can happen, so let’s talk about how to recover from workout injuries.










First, if the injury is serious, you should see a doctor. But the most common injuries are strains, and those are fairly easy to recover from if you take the following actions.


The most important part of recovery is rest.

Don’t put any stress on the affected body part(s) until they’re fully healed.

People that violate this simple principle can wind up with chronic injuries that become quite a problem.

Once the injured area feels healed (no more pain through a full range of motion), start slowly in training it again. Work with lighter weights and see how you feel the next day, and gradually work back into your normal routine.


Ice helps you recover by reducing inflammation and swelling and internal bleeding from injured capillaries and blood vessels. As long as there is pain and inflammation, ice will help.

You should begin treatment with ice, not heat (which we’ll talk about in a minute), and I recommend keeping a damp cloth between the ice pack and your skin to avoid discomfort.

Don’t apply ice for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, but you can rotate on and off all day.


Like ice, compression helps you heal by reducing swelling and inflammation.

Use elastic bandage or a compression sleeve, and wrap the injured part tightly, but not so tight as to impair blood flow.

You can combine compression with ice by wrapping over the ice pack.


By raising the affected part above your heart, you speed the blood’s journey back to your heart, which reduces swelling and aids in removing waste products from the area.


Heat stimulates blood flow, which helps your body bring more nutrients for healing and remove waste products.

You don’t want to use heat right away, however, because it aggravates inflammation.

The general advice is to use only ice for the first 3 days to reduce swelling, and then to introduce heat, and alternate between the two (heat for 15-20 minutes, followed by ice, followed by heat, and so forth).


Are there any other mistakes or recovery methods that I missed? Have anything else to add? Lemme know in the comments below!


admin admin

I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like what I have to say, sign up for my free newsletter and every week I'll send you awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious "diet-friendly" recipes, motivational musings, and more.


If you want a "paint-by-numbers," step-by-step blueprint for building a muscular, lean, strong body...faster than you ever thought possible...then you want to check out my bestselling books.

Here's a little sneak peek of what you'll learn inside...

  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy with ease…eating foods you love (yes, including those deemed “unclean” by certain “gurus”)…and never feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”
  • The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, disappointed, and confused. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • An all-in-one training system that delivers MAXIMUM results for your efforts…spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym every week…doing workouts that energize you, not wipe you out.
  • A no-BS guide to supplements that will save you hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars each year that you would’ve wasted on products that are nothing more than bunk science and marketing hype.
  • And a whole lot more!

The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

My book will show you how. Get it today and let’s build a body you can be proud of.

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

Want more awesome stuff like this? Enter your email address to get the weekly newsletter.
LIKE MUSCLE FOR LIFE? Let Google know!
Leave a Comment!
  • Stuart Cullinan

    Excellent article, thanks for the tips. I’ve suffered a lower back injury from deads (probably bad form) and a bicep strain from moving a loaded bar from squat rack to the floor…laziness really. I used ice which really helped but was unsure about how/when to apply heat…thanks for clearing that up.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Stuart! Sorry to hear about the strains. They happen. Hope you heal up quickly and can get back to it. And be more careful of course. 🙂

  • laura

    Great article Mike! I do have a question about a shoulder/back issue I’ll do my best to explain. Somewhere between carrying and loading kayaks this past weekend my right shoulder muscles just tightened up suddenly ( back of the neck and between the upper part of the shoulder blade and spine as well as the top of the shoulder) I wasn’t lifting anything super heavy just kind of awkward positions I suppose. This resulted in a stiff neck for the next three days. I’ve been using the heating pad but that only really provides temporary relief. I’ve never had a muscle lock up like that before I was wondering if you had some insight or advice on keeping that from happening again.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Laura!

      I’ve had something worse–a pinched nerve. Couldn’t even move my head to the right. I actually got some weird kind of electro-stimulation/acupuncture done that sounded ridiculous, but helped a LOT. I was good to go within 4-5 days.

      I honestly don’t even know what the treatment is called, but I had this happen once before a while ago when I used to play ice hockey and I had to just wait it out (heating pad and rest, boo). It took a couple weeks to fully recover.

  • Milica Kozomara

    Thanks! I’ve been watching for this article.

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome! Glad you liked it. 🙂

  • Jenny Leadem

    Another way to get an injury, spend your rest week moving and installing heavy kitchen cabinets instead of resting the go to back day like nothing happened. This is what I did, real bonehead move. I felt my back giving when I moved the cabinets too. I even thought, I should probably go get help, but I didn’t. Only took one sloppy deadlift and bamm ; ( How long does this type of injury usually take to heal?

    • Michael Matthews

      Damn it Jenny. 😛

      How bad is it?

      • Jenny Leadem

        It wasnt too bad and seemed almost healed till I tried to do back day normally this week with just lighter deadlifts now it hurts again. Some bruising, impaired flexibility, and hurts to bend.My parents are doctors and II’m visiting them this week so I might get them to check it but I don’t know how long to expect. Obviously a week was not enough >, < my bad

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay, well yeah just give it rest. I’ve pissed off my back like that before too. Lemme know…

  • Cris Wagemans

    Great artical Mike, and much needed for new serious lifters ..

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Cris!

  • Reinol Piedra

    Awesome article. I have been training for almost 30 yrs and i am questioning my flat bench technique. You described the wrong one. What is the correct way?
    My interest stems from injuring something in my shoulder area a few days ago.

    • Michael Matthews


      I describe it detail in my book Bigger Leaner Stronger, but the main points are:

      Shoulder blades pinched, back slightly arched.

      Feet flat on the ground.

      Elbows at about a 45-degree angle–do NOT flare them out to 90 degrees.

      No rolling shoulders at the top of the lift.

      Bar straight up and down–don’t bring it down to your nipples and then on the way up, toward your head (as if you were going to re-rack it).

  • Kev Rodgers

    In carrying the kayaks it is quite possible that the infraspinatus muscle on your shoulder blade has gone into spasm causing a trigger point. This could in turn cause your rhomboid major and minor to be over worked. It would probably also compromise your levator scapular and upper trapezius. All of these are temporary issues that can be treated with deep tissue massage.
    Kev Rodgers

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing Kev!

  • Kyle Knapp

    Very nice article, great thoughts. Are you familiar with the concept of lymphatic stimulation/pumping to increase healing from injury? I don’t think it’s the answer to everything but it’s likely a nice tool to keep in the toolbox (at the least it’s worked well for me and others I know/work with).

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kyle! No I’m not, but that does make sense as the lymph system helps move junk out of the body. How do you do it? Massage?

      • Kyle Knapp

        A couple ways. Massaging the lymph system surrounding the injury is one that I use a bit (often with heat). A colleague has used electrical tissue stimulation with the Marc Pro device with good success. My go to is exercising the surrounding muscles. I just strained my hamstring so the next day I did some light but high rep work with quads, calves, feet to get as much going through the legs without using the damaged tissue.

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah cool.

          I got some electrical acupuncture done when I pinched a nerve in my neck and it helped quite markedly. I was surprised.

  • Kev Rodgers

    Deep tissue massage will identify any areas of tightness within a muscle. It is possible for a well qualified practitioner to break up scar tissues and adhesions within a muscle. In Laura’s case it sounds like there is a rotator cuff issue which if untreated can become progressively worse. This happens when other muscles compensate for the injured one. A good practitioner will be able to use gentle, stretching techniques to isolate the specific problems and although quite painfully we’ll worth the discomfort.
    Hope this is helpfully.
    Kev Rodgers
    Sport and remedial massage practitioner

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, I get massaged regularly and she’s been hitting some parts pretty hard. It hurts like all hell but feels great afterward.

  • Joe


    If one took anti-inflammatories (e.g. Ibuprofen), to reduce the inflammation, is there any significant impact to muscle growth? For example, if I took ibuprofen for my shoulder (and rested it) would it affect my muscle growth if I continued to work legs?

    Also, if one were to rest the inflamed area, how long before muscle deterioration from not working it, if you kept your diet in check.

    • Michael Matthews

      NSAIDs may actually impair muscle growth. They do in rats, but the implications for humans aren’t fully understood yet.

      For general health reasons, I wouldn’t recommend taking them regularly.

      You won’t start losing muscle until at least 2-3 weeks of no training.

      Hope this helps!

  • Mike

    Sometimes a particular lift just doesn’t work for someone. I cannot do flat presses with a barbell with pain..if i went down to my chest with the bar..it would be goodnight right shoulder..I use proper form, warm up..all of the above.
    However with dumbbells..no issue..in order to prevent concern in range of motion..coming down too far..i lay on the floor..so my elbows can only go down so far..problems solved..do whats best for you to stay healthy. Great site Mike ty

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, that’s very true. You definitely need to work around limitations, not try to power through them and get hurt.

      Keep up the good work!

  • Josey

    Hey Mike,

    When I first read this article, I was like “Pffft. I’ll never get injured!” Well guess what? Third week in to my first phase and BAM! Bruised/ possible cracked rib. I was using the assisted chest dip machine and as I stepped up (I didn’t have good footing) I slipped and my right chest landed on the bar that was sticking out. So you’re right… s*** happens. Haha. Great article, as always.


    • Michael Matthews

      Ah shit, sorry to hear that. I hope you heal up quickly! And glad you liked the article!

  • Guest

    OK – A couple of weekends ago I

  • Diva134

    OK – I split and stacked a cord of wood on Sunday three weeks ago…On the following Wednesday I did hammer curls as part of my Phase 3 arm workout. I had just ‘graduated’ to 25lb dumbells from 20lb, so a bit on the heavy side for me…On the third set I was distracted : ( and strained my right arm – elbow mostly…I have stayed away from all arm and shoulder work and the pain has subsided but not gone away yet…shoveled some snow today and the elbow feels not so good…should I just continue to wait it out? So disappointed -feel like I am losing ll that I have worked so hard to gain…

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg, I’m sorry to hear that. Yeah just stay away from anything that aggravates it. Don’t sweat it too much because arms day is the least important, really. Your arms DO get worked on your back and chest workouts.

      • Diva134

        Mike, Thanks for the sound advice and words of encouragement. Love all aspects of your program!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW, and thanks! I’m really glad! 🙂

  • Nick Troisi

    You’re a great guy with great fitness advice. I just finished reading BLS and am already preaching its contents to my friends that have years of bad fitness advice. Anyway, I am really itching to start your program, however, I received arthroscopic labrum surgery Nov. 22nd. I’m healing really quickly, going to PT twice a week and doing a lot of mobility and stretching. How should I alter your program to help it suit my needs? I don’t think I’ll be ready to go into the gym day one I’m cleared to lift and do overload compound movements. Also, what can I do in the meantime to stay fit? I’m working on boosting my metabolism because eating at a caloric deficit after surgery has caused me to go into skinny fat mode. HELP!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Nick! I really appreciate it.

      I’m glad to hear you’re healing up quickly. That’s great.

      Let me know once you’re cleared for lifting and what you can and can’t do and we can work around it. Definitely get a list from your PT.

      In the meantime would some body weight stuff be an option?


  • Samuel Sander

    Hey Michael, thanks for the article – enjoyed it as usual! Two days ago I broke my left wrist – was a non-gym related accident. Typing this right now with one hand actually 😀 The other hand will stay in gypsum for 3 weeks. What would be your gameplan in a situation like this?

    I’ll probably be taking longer walks outside now but as my physical activity is quite limited, I’m limiting the calories I eat as well. Was thinking of eating TDEE (which would be multiplied with a smaller Activity Multiplier). Macro-breakdown would pretty much remain the same as before – wouldn’t lower the protein intake. Sounds about right?

    Also after 3 weeks, I imagine I have to start out with some rehab work for wrists before hitting the weights again?

    Many, many thanks in forward!! :))

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam!

      Damn, I’m sorry to hear that. I fractured my wrist years ago so I know how annoying that is.

      I would do BMR x 1.1 and yeah, do some walking every day and such. Keep your protein intake around 1 gram per pound.

      I hope you recovery quickly!

  • Nick

    Hello Mike,

    I’m hoping you can help me. Here is my issue, I’m 5’11″ and 188lbs at 14 or 15% body fat. I am benching 205 for sets of 5, shoulder pressing 70lb dumbbells for sets of 5, leg press 500lbs for 4, but when I squat I can’t do more than 145 for 4 or 5 reps without knee pain. I have perfect form and I go down past parallel but anytime I try to add weight it hurts to the point that I limp away with my head down avoiding eye contact because I bench more than I squat. I’m thinking of just replacing the barbell squat with a hack squat but I know I’m missing out on the other benefits of the squat. What do I do?


    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on your stats, I like it.

      Hmm have you ever injured your knee?

      • Nick

        Not that I know of.

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay. Are your knees extending past your toes?

          • Nick

            Not that I’ve noticed. I guess maybe they could be. I pay really close attention to my form and make sure I’m pushing from my heals but I do feel like the weight pulls me forward. Could that be it? What can I do to prevent that?

          • Michael Matthews

            If your knees are extending past your toes, that’s definitely going to be part of the problem. Check it out next time and let me know.

            If you feel you’re being pulled forward it’s either a form or mobility point. Most likely mobility:


          • Nick

            I tried the wall squat mentioned in the article and had a pretty severe pain in my left knee and some swelling. Tried again when the swelling went down and was fine. Had it checked and turns out I have a torn meniscus.

          • Michael Matthews

            Yikes. I’m sorry to hear that. It was clearly torn before trying the wall squat?

          • Nick

            Oh yeah.

          • Michael Matthews

            I thought so but thought I would check. Hope you make a quick recovery brother.

  • Johny Kolin

    Hey Michael,

    First of all, from what i can understand from your writings on your site and BLS book i purchased recenlty from you, you must be an honest and great guy, i hope you keep it up especially in the honesty department, the strength training industry needs it, you wouldnt believe the things that i see being preached every day in the gym both in training and in the supplementation category.
    My question is: I know that how many days we train in a week (be it 5, 4 or 3 days) depends on many things (at least for a completely natural athlete like me).One of those things is our Job. What would be your opinion on training days for a person that has a very active job (standing 8 hours, walking fast some times with weight , lifting heavy iron sheets,bending, pulling etc etc)? I know – feel that this kind of work in itself is a big workout by itself and for sure it interferes with the needed recovery. What would you propose ?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Johny, I really appreciate it. And I know brother–this industry is riddled with bullshit.

      I’ve emailed with people VERY active in their jobs and how much lifting their bodies can take seems to vary from person to person. Some people’s bodies are very resilient whereas others’ aren’t.

      You could start with 3 x and see how your body feels after 3-4 weeks. If you feel good, you can increase to 4 days for the next 3-4 and see how it goes.

      What do you think?

      • Johny Kolin

        Well i was and am so enthustiatic about your routine that i immediately Started the 5 day routine, taking into major consideration how much brief the workouts are and that i won’t be leaving the gym dead like i always did – with previous workout routines.. you see i have been training for 10 – 11 years now and have tried almost every training regimen, and unfortunately i have fallen victim in my early years of training that more is the only way to go…And of course for a natural “athlete” like me i was dead wrong…I was saved by my young age though – Thank GOD – and didnt overtrain or got injured. Now at 32, in my 3 rd week of the program i can already see – feel that this is the kind of routine that works for me, even with this kind of job that is so demanding (i hope i will find a more easy – relaxing job in the near future :P) So Michael , till now i have absolutely no problem to train 5 days in a row since i stay in the gym including warm ups and cool downs and some light stretching for 1 hour top and leave the gym actually feeling strong not a walking dead!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay great. Let me know how it goes. If we have to reduce training frequency that’s not a problem.

          Yeah I used to overtrain like crazy too. Live and learn.

          Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

          • Johny Kolin

            Thank you my friend! You began something – both in strength training world and in the supplement category – that no one else has done !! know that there are many people around the world that greatly appreciatte your honesty and very succesful work! Keep it up! Soon i will order your supplements too!! You deserve it! thanks again!

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks a lot for the kind words. I really appreciate it. 🙂 Keep me posted on how it all goes…

  • Julien

    Hi Mike,

    If you have to take several months off from lifting due to a shoulder injury, what is the best way to preserve as much muscle as possible in this time off? Is it just a question of eating at maintenance and having a high protein diet? Also would continuing to workout the lower body be a good idea to encourage protein synthesis? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s about it. I would train what I can train but you’ll lose muscle where you don’t train.

  • Rodrigo

    Hi Mike!

    Many professionals recommend running or walking for some minutes to warm up before start the work out.
    I don’t know if it’s right or not but I feel afraid to start up lifting my wheiths feeling my body cold.
    What do you think about that?

    Thank you very much. Your work is great! Congratulations

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s a good idea. I do a 2-3 minute warm up. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Cool Stuff of the Week: Amazon Fire TV, HyperIce, Land Yacht, and More… | Muscle For Life()

  • Pingback: Debunking the Myth of Weightlifting and Joint Problems | Muscle For Life()

  • Pingback: Stötvågsbehandling | Felicia Denbu Wilhelmsson()

  • Mr. Bones

    Hi Michael, I just bought your book and am looking forward to changing up my routine based on what I’ve read. What led me to your site was a desperate search for answers after suffering chronic inflammation in my knees and elbows which I can now trace back to far too many high rep (10-12 range) sets with increasing weight. It was only when my knee pain forced me to give up my beloved squats that I decided I needed to make some changes, yep, I’m that stubborn.

    I’m excited to drop my reps/sets and finally lift big. A few questions related to inflammation: I’ve read some research and spoken with my doctor and orthopedist who remarked that ice and NSAIDs can actually slow the healing and recovery process, what do you think? Personally, I would rather just deal with the pain and recover faster, than slow my recovery just so I can be a bit more comfortable. Ice and NSAIDs don’t really heal anything right, don’t they just help to manage the pain? Heat seems more logical as a proactive application as it should encourage the flow of blood to the affected sites. What do you think?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Let me know how you like the book.

      This will help you too:


      You’re going to love the program. I used to do all the high-rep shit and will NEVER go back.

      NSAIDs can actually impair muscle growth because inflammation is part of the process. Regular use of NSAIDs is just bad anyway–don’t do it. Icing sore joints won’t be an issue though.

      Check out the joint exercise I linked. It’ll help.

  • P Mort

    Umm, what’s it mean to “round your shoulders” during bench? Sorry if that’s a dumb question, but after reading this I’m questioning my form on that one now.

    • Michael Matthews

      Some people flatten their backs at the top to try to “shrug” the weight up a couple more inches with their shoulders.

  • Pingback: 8 Proven Ways to Break Through Weightlifting Plateaus | Muscle For Life()

  • Don Carlos

    I hurt my lower back. Got a ligament tear. That was two years ago. Now I get really bad spasms and it usually goes away with ibuprophen and a heating pad. But it takes me out of training for a week or so. Any tips for getting my back muscles strong and better than before??

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg I’m sorry to hear that. Are you able to do exercises like the sumo or hex deadlift?

  • Samuel Sander

    Had a bedroom related accident a few months back – twisted my left shoulder somehow. Got some massage done etc. and it seemed to go better so I continued with progressing my shoulder workouts. Had slight discomfort but nothing too serious. Today has a shoulder workout and felt a sharp pain so stopped the workout. I’ll stop with shoulder-specific workouts for a few weeks, although it’ll get some indirect work on chest and arm work still. What do you suggest, could light rubber band static holds for shouldee heal it quicker? Many thanks in forward:)))

  • djedga

    So I am clearly an idiot…

    One issue you don’t list is to pay attention at all times – even when re re-racking weights etc. It’s when you don’t you’re more likely to hurt yourself.

    last week I was lifting at home, workout done so I go to move dumbbells back to their home. As I go to lift them my wife asked me a question and I turned and lifted at the same time. Ouch! Lower back tweaked instant agony!

    Luckily after some rest it doesn’t seem so bad, will be a week tomorrow and I haven’t lifted since. I was able to ice straight away and have been using heat since day 2 (heat patches and hot baths) Still some discomfort but I was able to play golf this weekend and I hope to be back lifting next week or shortly thereafter..

    I may go back to body weight stuff to start with and slowly add weight for a week or two, particularly in deadlifts / romanian deadlifts / squats etc. where there may be a risk of muscle failure leading to a further incident.

    One thing I found recommended for the lower back is that the ice / heat is slightly different – there is less inflammation than other muscles / ligaments and heat is recommended depending on the actual injury – i.e. if it is not a strain/sprain but a spasm or a nerve then heat. It is better always to get advice where possible and to be sure what kind of injury you have, it can be difficult to tell. I knew mine was a strain or a sprain straight away and after the shock on about the third day I could tell it was already getting better (I think most times with this type of injury you tend to know pretty much immediately and after a few days it is clear how severe it is going to be).

    Injuries suck, this feels like a set back but I was probably due a break soon so will just have to put up with it!

  • Pingback: How Training to Failure Can Help You Build More Muscle (And How It Can Hinder It Too) | Muscle For Life()

  • Rajith

    Hi Mike,
    What about getting a massage? and also some stretching exercises? will it helpful too? and how long do you think need to rest?

  • James

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve been out of the gym for about a year now due to a long term injury but a recent ultra sound scan gave me the all clear. Since my time off i have become very skinny and have lost most of the gains i made. I was just wondering what the best way to tap into ‘muscle memory’ is (if you can) and whether it is a real thing and not a myth. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m glad to hear you’re healthy again. Check this out:


      • James

        Great article! Would you say there was a particular style of training that would get the previous gains back in the shortest amount of time possible? Such as rep range etc

        • Michael Matthews
          • James

            Thanks Mike! I had two different personal trainers at two separate gyms and both failed to inform me the importance of keeping shoulders pinched back and down when doing the bench press. As a result I got injured.

            Do you think this is quite a common thing where personal trainers don’t give their clients good advice? It’s as if knowing the correct shoulder positioning for the bench press is a secret that know one knows about haha!

          • Michael Matthews


            Arg, I’m sorry to hear that. Yeah it’s fairly common…

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Jay

    Any advice for someone that has picked up a lot of little injuries. Basically I have about 4 niggling injuries that haven’t gone away because I have just trained through them. I never not want to be in the gym. I have a slight abdominal strain that I rested for 3 weeks but seems to be a niggling pain, its not bad enough that I can’t train through it but its just annoying. Thankfully I don’t have a hernia. I also injured my Rhomboid and my neck earlier in the year and they still aren’t right. They don’t hurt when I train but they are stiff and tend to get more sore after. Basically im an idiot. I get frustrated when I can’t train and I make it worse 🙁

    • Dude I can relate. I’ve done the same thing many times and unfortunately it always come back to just knocking off what has been aggravating everything and working around the niggles until they’re gone.

      I’ve also found that regular massage helps a LOT.

  • Derrek

    This sucks I think I may have gotten achilles tendinitis or bursitis. I’m seeing a PT soon. I’d really like to do HIIT on the bike, not sure if I should or shouldn’t though. Any other forms of HIIT you would recommend?

    • Derrek

      I’m also gonna talk to them about squatting. What would you recommend if I can’t squat and how could I work out my legs without causing harm to my achilles tendon?

      • I’m not sure I’ve never had AT problems. I would check with your doc.

    • Arg I’m sorry to hear that. How about swimming?

  • DK

    Hi Mike
    I’m only a few weeks into a cut on the BLS programme , but unfortunately picked up an injury deadlifting. ….think it might be a hernia but have to wait on tests. I therefore could be out of action for a while. Should I continue with the cut as normal without the lifting? Will this mean I will lose muscle? Not sure what to do.
    I’m a small guy and look like crap at the moment because I’m cutting so I wanted to get out of the cut as quickly as possible. I really appreciate any advice.


    • Damn I’m sorry to hear that. I wouldn’t run a deficit without lifting because yes you will lose muscle. That said if you can ANYTHING, even bodyweight stuff, it can be enough to preserve muscle while in a deficit…

  • Ryan Wignes

    Great site Mike. It is really well put together and clear for newbies like myself. You have the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow site and teaching style I’ve seen. I am just soaking up your info and will definitely be buying your books soon.

    I’m just wondering though… you said you didn’t like pyramid training, but isn’t your suggested warm up a pyramid? I have been doing just very light warm up sets so I don’t get exhausted for my 4-6 heavy set. Your suggested warm up is like a pyramid so therefore would it not tire one out by the time they get to their 4-6 rep max weight working set? Many thanks. Ryan (determined newbie)

    • Thanks Ryan!

      Yeah warm-up sets are just for warming you up. They’re not “muscle-building” sets if you know what I mean. You don’t want to fatigue yourself at all.

  • Kurt MacArthur

    Hey Mike,

    I seemed to somehow hurt the bone in my forearm called the “Ulna”. This is just my guess because it doesn’t feel like joint pain or soreness….Its jut a dull pain that seriously feels like its my bone. I’m only about 3 months into the gym and think I was lifting to heavy and not watching my form causing a large portion of the weight to transfer to my forearm bone instead of my muscles.

    When I was in the gym doing E-Zbar bicep curls is when it suddenly sprung up. I normally had awkard pain in that area when I would release weights to quickly either during spotting or just heavy dumbells. But this time I think it just hosed it.

    Have you ever experienced this? In this situation do I just need to wait it out until its completely healed and feel zero pain? Is this a common issue amongst newbs? Also, once this is healed would doing frequent forearm exercises help? It seems as though im growing in strength faster than my forearms are, causing them to have problems holding weight.

    It would be such a shame to have my overall progress grind to a halt because of shitty forearms. Any advice to possibly speed this up or ways to prevent it from ever happening again? Its screwing with my gains!

    • Oh yeah that can happen. Just go lighter on your biceps training and it’ll get better. VERY annoying I know. Once you get stronger you’ll no longer have the issue.

      • Kurt MacArthur

        Thanks for the reply! So this kind of pain is primarily from too heavy bicep curls? Would other exercises that involve grip possibly prolong this issue? Things like deadlift and bench press ect?

        • YW! Yeah usually from biceps curls. Nope seems to just be curls.

  • Pingback: Interview with Mark Divine on the mental game of getting fit | Muscle For Life()

  • Eli

    Hi. What you recommend as far as diet goes while injured? Currently following 20% (2,166) deficit plan at 40,40,20…

    • I would eat around TDEE when injured to prevent muscle loss. Unless you’re very overweight–in that case reducing weight is the primary concern.

  • Carlos Arteaga

    Hey Mike. Great article and I might need some advice.
    Recently I injured my lower back doing squats, it could be due a flexibility issue since it was muscle strain. However, I was feeling relieved and pain free today so I decided to go for Deadlifts and the pain came back as day one so now I’m thinking on cutting Squat and Deadlift for at least a month for full recovery. Is there any routine to work my back without engaging the lumbar area too much?

    • Carlos Arteaga

      Or should I just quit training altogether?

    • Thanks!

      Doh I’m sorry to hear that. You definitely need to take time off anything that aggravates it. I’ve had to do the same before–no deadlifting or squatting for 3-4 weeks. You can just find workarounds though.

  • Marko Hegediš

    Hey Mike I started doing warm ups with deadlifts bench presses and military presses.But know after doing warm ups i lift less weight then when I didn’t do warm ups.Is this normal or am I doing my warm ups wrong?

    • Hmm. Proper warm ups normally improve performance.

      How many reps and how much weight are you doing for your warm ups compared to your working weight?

      • Marko Hegediš

        I’ve been warming up the way you wrote in the article(1 set 50 % and 12 reps etc..)

        • That’s good. Are you resting 3 minutes after your last warm-up before doing your first working set?

          • Marko Hegediš

            Oh I was just resting 1 min like the other warm ups lol.Guess I’ll try tommorow and as always mike thanks for responding!

          • Sounds like a plan. 🙂

            LMK how it goes!

  • Shannon

    Hey Mike!
    For about the last 3 weeks, I have been feeling some pain in my inner right thigh/groin area, and it is most uncomfortable when doing squats. I tried taking a few days off, but when I tried the squats again I still felt that straining pain. Doing any weight over 40 on the squats is pretty painful. I know I should take a break for a while from the squats to heal, but I know squats are a huge and important part of the training (I’m reading your book Thinner Leaner Stronger). Do you have any suggestions for alternative exercises that won’t upset the groin muscle that I can do while I wait to heal?
    Thanks! I’m really enjoying your book by the way!

    • Sorry to hear about the groin pain. I definitely recommend taking a break from squats and any exercise that cause pain.

      Have you tried leg press and/or hack squat?

      Glad you’re enjoying the book!

  • Gustavo De Almeida Luiz

    Any advice for a supraspinatus tendinits?

  • Alvaro

    Hi Mike,

    I injured my thumb-palm muscle and i cannot do push ups or lift freely, it hurts a lot and started irradiating to wrist, it does not seem willing to heal quickly, so i am thinking about resting one or two weeks until it is fully healed. but i am on cal deficit and was wondering if returning to maintenance level would be a good idea to increase healing capacity, maintain strengh and not lose muscle. i reckon can do some cardio and lower body but upper body is unavailable for now and i would not like to do just cardio on cal deficit. Thanks!

    • Yeah, I agree with going to maintenance cals during your recovery. As you said, it’ll prevent muscle loss and reduce recovery time.

      Should still do lower body work and cardio.

      LMK how it goes.

  • Stephane Bertrand

    hey mike, I strained a muscle in my forearm 2 month ago and still feel pain if I lift. Should I wait till the pain is gone before I try any exercise or should I start slowly even if it hurts little ?

    • I don’t recommend doing anything that causes pain. You should check with your doc to make sure everything is good.

      Once you can workout pain-free, start with light weight and high reps. Slowly work your way to heavier weight.

      • Stephane Bertrand

        My doc gave me naproxen. But shouldn’t I use very light weight if it doesn’t hurt and work my way up? reinforce the muscle ?

        • Yep, once you get the okay to start training again from your doc, start light and work your way up.

  • Alex Wunder

    Hey Mike!

    I pulled something in my lower back. I suspect the strain started during my deadlifts (Thursday), but I hardly noticed there was anything wrong. I thought my back was just sore due to my deadlifting because I had gone up in weight. Then this past Monday when I went to do my leg day I was on the leg press doing my normal sets and after I finished It was clear that I had aggravated it or pulled something because it became harder to stand up and bend over without discomfort.

    I plan on staying away from back related exercises until it heals.

    I was wondering what you would recommend to replace the:

    1. Ab workouts

    It’s hard for me to bend my back so all the normal ab workouts I do have become tough.

    2. Back workouts

    I obviously can’t deadlift but I still want to maintain my muscle until I recover. I was thinking I could use the row machine to reduce strain on my back but was wondering if you had any ideas for the other back muscles.

    3. Leg workouts

    Do you think quadricep and hamstring machines will suffice until my back heals?

    Thanks a million,


    • Doh! I’m sorry to hear that.

      You want to make sure you don’t force your knees to go too close to your chest on the LP as it can compromise your lower back. Once you feel your hams pulling, you push.

      You’re going to have to work through the various exercises I recommend and see what you can and can’t do and just stick with what you can. Even if that means doing the same thing for the next several weeks…

  • Daniel Cole

    Hey Mike
    Starting doing your workout methods a month ago and luckily I had only been working out 5 months prior. In my third month I remember my tricep felt really tight and not the typical soreness that I’m used to. Few days ago after doing a heavey chest day, followed by a bicep tricep workout the same pain in my left tricsp happening again. I don’t have much history getting injured so I’m not sure how bad this or what I should do. Theres some pain when I dig into the muscle. Do you think it’s a strain?

    • First let’s back off whatever is causing the pain. Go lighter in weight, avoid the exercises, etc.

      Second, probably not a strain but you’ll want to address it. Rest is one part but myofascial release can help too:


      • Daniel Cole

        So you think it’s less serious than a strain? It’s the 4th day and it still hurts but there’s no bruising or anything crazy like that. I think my problem was going to heavy on skull crushers so I will back off that exercise a bit. I shouldn’t have to take a week off or anything like that do I?

        • It could be but it sounds minor either way.

          No you shouldn’t have to take a week off but you need to not do exercises that aggravate it.

          • Daniel Cole

            It’s been about 18 days since I made this post and between that time I’ve done two chest workouts and everything else I usually do but otherwise zero tricep work and I still have the same extreme tightness and just dull annoyance type pain in my left tricep. It’s hard to describe the feeling, almost like someone just punched me in the back of the arm – but there’s no bruising or redness. I’m going to go to the doctor this Tuesday hopefully to make sure it’s nothing serious but my guess is he’ll just tell me to take a few weeks off and pop ibuprofen throughout the day. I know your not a doctor but I still value your advice. What do you think it is? I read the article you attached and I’ve been massaging it. I’ve been so committed to your program so I’d go crazy if I just have to stop working out for even a week. What do you think?

          • Daniel Cole

            Also I haven’t done a full d load week yet and I’ve been training for about 5 months, about 2 months in a calorie deficit. Should I just do a d load now?

          • Yikes yes.

          • Really hard to say because it could be just a tight muscle or a slight muscle strain or tear or whatnot.

  • Hey Mike, is the warm-up routine any different for exercises that require 8–10 (or higher) reps, as opposed to 4–6?

  • Bounphi Bebsi

    While training this morning my biceps made a snapping sound (happened while doing widegrip pullups) and I felt pain right at the top of the shoulder. Afterwards I couldn’t lift anything with my right arm anymore 🙁 I’m gonna see a doctor tomorrow but chances are that I need to stop exercising 3-4 weeks. Damn it, just when I made some good progress…
    Is there anything I can do besides resting the shoulder and biceps? Should I still exercise legs? Or rest completely?

    • Damn. Sorry to hear that.

      Definitely a good call to check in with the doc. I know resting sucks. 🙁 Feel free to continue any exercises that don’t cause pain.

  • Troy Vander Wyst

    Hi Mike,
    im 6″, 230 pnds, 18% BF, Bulking
    This morning my back popped during my 3 rep of my first working set on deadlift. ive been following the BLS workout since may, started my work sets at 185 and have had great prorge]ressive overload completley incident free, this morning was my 3rd week at 365, working reps at 4-4-3 two weeks ago, 5-4-4 last tuesday so id think my body should be past any “shocK” of the last weight increase. with ur advise i always put form first and even had a friend watch my form on that first 365 day (realize one mistake is i shouldve had him film me instead). i immediatly stopped and spent 40 minutes slowly dynamic stretching on a stretching chair, popped IBprofen and already only feel pain when bending forward or back and not much of anything when back is at rest, icing now. seeing doctor tomorrow for his advice. the pain feels more along the side of the spine rather then within it, no tinglying or nerve symptoms so far.

    what is ur advice for full rest period, and then how and when to work the muscle back into correct strength to get beck to where i was saftely.

    i love love ur program and deadlifts, last thing i want is a continuing injuries, and want to correctly move past this physically and mentally.

    thank you,
    sorry for the long post i wanted to give the full picture of what happened,

    • Thanks for all the info. Sorry to hear about the back. 🙁

      Cool on everything you’ve been doing since the injury and good you’re seeing the doc.

      Rest from all exercises that cause pain or discomfort. Once you’ve fully recovered and are completely pain-free, you can start deadlifting again. Keep your form strict and start out with light weight and high reps. You can work your way up to heavier weight and lower reps as you get comfortable with the exercise.

      Glad you’re enjoying the program man. Let’s get that back properly taken care of and then get you back on it. 🙂

      No worries. Hope this helps!

  • Aaron J Easter

    Okay hey mike i have a question, ive basically answered it myself but would like to bounce it off you too. About 5 days ago i was doing my deadlifts, i was on set 5 when my back decided to call it quits, ive been resting my back and not doing anything to anger the lower back anymore, its killing my ab workouts though, ive been keeping a eye on the healing process and if i feel better ill lay down and try a single full arm situp just to determine if its time to start training again. My make wont let me extend up words, (by not forcing the motions) it just feels tight still so i say nope and not risk just injurying it again. I want to stay on top of my workouts though. So would you say if im getting my motions back but not yet for my crunches wait a few more days. What do you think about doing steam engines and spider mans with windshields just to get some motions back into my back and abs. I was going to do core twists with a band as well but think sence thats a twisting motion with resistance that would jusy add to my problem. If you can think of anyother ab workouts that i could do in the mean time let me know. Thanks man. Also here is a picture of me, how can i get my abs to be more blocky. I use the (consent tension method, use weights as well as bodyweight.)

    • Glad you’re doing better. That’s why I’m strict with my deads. If I feel my back giving, I just drop the weight.

      IMO don’t do anything that will aggravate it. Just let it heal.

      Regarding the “blocky” ab look, weighted ab training helps a lot with that.

  • dave

    This isn’t a workout injury but an injury affecting my workouts lol i have broken my hand so i can really only do legs,abs, pec deck, cable, hammer curls. Anything else is a tad risky. O ate maintenance over the holidays so I could enter the new year syked to finish cutting to 10%. Is it silly to eat in deficit while only able to go heavy on legs twice a week and *some* machine work? my thinking was by the time im healed (5weeks hopefully) id be at 10% and then ready to FINALLY begin my first bulk lol

    • Damn. Sorry to hear about the hand. 🙁 Understood on the limited exercises you can do.

      Yeah, instead I recommend eating at TDEE until you recover. It’ll help maintain muscle while not lifting, and it’ll help speed up recovery.

      What do you think?

      • dave

        Ahhhhh I think your right lol I have a X-ray next week to see if it’s healing. I will know more from then! Until then I will hit the squats religiously.

        • LMK how it goes! Glad to hear you’re keeping up with the squats. 🙂

  • goldstargay

    Currently on week 6 of not lifting due to the lamest injury ever, tennis elbow! it really sucks and I feel like I can feel my body losing muscle but can’t wait to heal up and start hitting the weights again! Been staying active with just walking but I miss the feeling I get when I lift.

    • Damn. That’s annoying!

      Feel free to continue any exercises you can that don’t cause pain or discomfort! Also, if it’s been 6 weeks, it may be a good idea to check with the doc.

      I also recommend eating at TDEE to help maintain muscle and accelerate recovery.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Chris

    Being 5 weeks in now, I definitely feel stronger and there is more definition, but I don’t want to keep going forward in this direction if I’m doing it wrong, i.e., not getting enough calories, or doing warm-ups wrong, or progressing weight incorrectly. I really enjoyed the book and have recommended it to friends and have bought the 1 year challenge and shredded chef. All great things. I will say the Supremely Spicy chili recipe in the book was enough to feed an army (I will half it next time), but very delicious. Would really appreciate if you could help me out with the below questions. Thanks!

    1. In the book, you talk about adding more weight (10 lbs barbell or 5 lbs dumbbell) each week, does that include the warm ups or do you have to figure out your 1 RM every time, since the warm up #s are based on the 1 RM. If so, then that kind of adds more to the entire routine. For instance (barbell curls), if I did reps 12 / 10 / 4 / 1 warm up with 45 lbs / 45 lbs / 65 lbs / 80 lbs and my 1 RM was 90, and I did my 3 working sets with 70 lbs one week. Now, for the following week, would I then increase my barbell warm up to 55 / 55 / 75 / 90 and working sets go to 80? I’ve basically been trying to do this, and for some exercises it works, some it doesn’t and I find myself going back to figuring out a 1 RM and then lowering my weights based on that 1 RM, because the working sets would be too heavy. I really struggle with getting the side lateral weights up higher and the bent over rear delts. I’m basically plateaued with them, but I keep pushing. I’m wrapping up week 5 now.

    2. When I started your program, I started with bulking, but felt like i was getting more fat around my gut and chin (basically felt I was skinny fat), so I went to cutting for the past 3 weeks, because I wanted to get rid of some chin/belly fat. I accomplished that for the most part (though It seemed like I was more tired that period with much less carbs and body wasn’t recovering fast as it is in bulking). Now I find myself starting the “bulking” phase (feeling more energy and overall body feeling better). In your book, it shows a meal plan for a guy 175 pounds, however, I’m not sure how tall that guy is. I’m 6’1, about 175. The calories you have for the guy in the book are about 3K per day. The thing I took from it was, estimated, a 25% protein, 55% carb, 20% fat overall nutrition for the day. I took those percentages and have catered my meals to hit those percentages, but to get about 2300 – 2400 calories per day as my goal. I reach about 145 grams of protein based on that 25% number, which is about .8% of my body weight, and I feel comfortable with that number. At 6’1, 175, with my recommended TDEE about 2500, will I still bulk up or do I need to get over the TDEE to start seeing more mass (and it is a MUST that i add more protein/carbs)? Also, is the cutting/bulking thing an ongoing deal? Like, if I start bulking, do I start overloading on calories now (i.e., 3K per day), and then when I get bigger or more weight (possible fatter?), I start to cut, then when i’m lean, bulk, and then its like, a rinse repeat cycle?

    Thank you!


    • Happy to hear it, Chris! I understand wanting to make sure you’re doing everything correctly.

      Thanks a ton for spreading the word, and I’m glad you liked the spicy chili recipe. 🙂

      1, For the warm-ups, you just want to stick to the percentages of the working set weights (50%, 50%, 70% and 90%). The warm-up sets weight should be determined by the weight you used in your working sets the previous week.

      So yes, if you increase your working sets weight, you want to increase your warm-up sets weight.

      To help with the side delt raises and rear delt raises, check this out:


      2. Cool you cut to get the BF% down and are now bulking. To properly bulk, you want to be in a calorie surplus and have the proper macro breakdown. You can calculate your intake and set up your macros here:


      You will continue cutting and bulking until you’re happy with the amount of muscle you have. Then you can do one last cut and then maintain the look. Take a look at this:


      My pleasure! Hope this helps.

    • Chris

      Thanks for the reply via email and the additional info. I read a transcript from one of your podcasts and looks like I’m on target, and it will take time, weeks, maybe months for body recomposition to lose the fat in stubborn areas and then when I start bulking, those fat areas in theory wouldn’t start getting fat again if I do it right. When I initially started bulking only after 4 weeks in the program, I started to get fat again in those unwanted areas, which was really disappointing. That being said, I hadn’t really gotten rid of it all in the first place, and I shouldn’t have started bulking yet based on what I’ve been reading from your podcasts and elsewhere on the site. Also, when I started bulking, i upped my calorie intake to more than 400 calories per day from my cutting target and your advice seems to be, take it gradual, maybe add under 100 per day, I think you even mentioned 30 more per day to start bulking. That is very precise and not sure I can do that, but I think adding 100 to under a hundred a day would be easy. So each day, I’d increase until I get to over my TDEE number or around there and evaluate as it goes up. Week 6 started today (I took a few days off more than 2 days as I think I needed it), but I am definitely stronger and more closer to a 6 pack and overall muscular definition than I’ve been in the past (my love handles have almost disappeared!). Definitely feel like this first Phase is a learning phase and building a strong foundation. Cheers!

  • D.

    Hey, Mike.

    I had a situation I wanted to run past you. I’ve been following BLS for a little over 3 months now. Prior to reading about the studies you cited regarding deadlifting and how it’s been misunderstood as being “unsafe”, I was never a deadlifter. I had always taken a hard stance against putting that much of a load on my back. After reading your book, I started deadlifting (and RDL-ing) and actually increased in weight by over 100 pounds since I started. There were weeks when I would actually make 20 pound PRs.

    Well, 2 weeks ago my fears were realized. I heard (and felt) a very audible “pop” in my lower back during my final RDL set, which ended up being a pretty serious strain and possibly some mild disc herniation according to my doctor. I’ve always maintained very strict form for my lifts as I frequently video record my workouts. Given all of that, I have to say that after this experience, I am pretty terrified at the idea of deadlifting again.

    At this point, my questions are:

    1. Because this was a new movement for me, would you agree that I hadn’t built enough of a foundation in the form of muscle/tendon density to support that much of an increase of weight that quickly?

    2. If so, can switching to a higher rep range help build more muscle/tendon density and prevent this from happening again? Can I expect to not see much muscle/strength increases with a higher rep range?

    Sorry for the long-winded post. Any insight would be awesome.

    Thanks for your time, Mike.


    • JZ

      Hi Mike, unfortunately I’m in a similar boat as Danny! The only difference is that I used to deadlift all the time (~10 years experience, stopped about 5 years ago) and pulled close to 450 at my max. I had the same thing happen at about 6 weeks in to BLS, only had about 275 on the bar. My questions are pretty much the same, even though I have prior experience with DL.

      Thanks for your time!


    • Hey Danny!

      Glad you started deadlifting and great job on the progress you made.

      Sorry to hear about the lower back. 🙁 I understand your concern.

      1. Eh. Not really. Simply put, either the weight was too heavy which caused your form to go out or you just weren’t pulling with good form.

      2. Yeah, you may want to work in the higher rep range, once you’re able to deadlift again just to get comfortable with the weight and get the form down. However, once you’re able to, I do recommend focusing on the 4-6 rep range. However, you HAVE to stick to weight that you can maintain proper form on.

      No worries. Hope this helps! My pleasure. 🙂

  • reverb

    Hello Mike; I have a big injury in the shoulder; a tear in the tendon (needs surgery); I m 44 years old, surfer + other stuff.
    I have been losing lots of muscle due to the lack of training, and possibly some kind of illness; I recently started to train the shoulders again to prevent more damage. What I see is that there is no any web page dedicated to routines or better safety way to perform exercises if you really have an injury; a real one not a few hours pain.
    May be an article about it put you first in the map…

    • I’m sorry to hear that. 🙁

      I actually have an MD that is going to be putting together a series of articles specifically for working around/rehabbing injuries.

      Keep an eye out. 🙂

  • Phil

    Hey there Mike,
    maybe this is a bit off-topic, but I can’t seem to find an article that addresses this issue.
    I plan to get laser eye surgery this summer, which means I can’t lift weights for about a month and can only do cardio (2 weeks after surgery). My questions are:
    How can I minimize muscle loss in the period I’m not training?
    Should I do cardio when allowed or will it further destroy my physique?
    What can I do in terms of diet to minimize losses?
    Any other advice regarding the issue?

  • bassett

    Hey Mike, long time reader.

    I recently hurt a joint in my neck which I think is causing a pinched nerve effect when I really exert myself (going hard on bench,deads,squats) and I get a massive headache that lasts about 1 to 2 minutes. What would your advice be to fix this?

    • Hey hey! Hmm. I’m not sure what’s going on. I recommend checking with a chiro or PT on that to see what’s up.

  • Jay

    Hey Mike I’ve got a bit of an issue.

    Feeling very tight and sore on my left hip where I can’t squat or train legs at all! Been following the hip mobility exercises you have in another article. How long do you think I should wait for recovery? Already been a week.

    Also, I’m on a 4 day split so what can i replace the leg day with?
    Thanks in advance man

    • Hmm. Let’s give it another week of rest taking a break from any and all exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

      If it’s still an issue, we should start doing some alternative exercises, and I’d recommend checking in with the doc to see what’s going on.

      In the meantime, I recommend following the 5-day split and skipping the leg day.

      Sound good?

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Joe

    Hey mike, I need help.

    So I’ve been following the 5 day routine, doing the warmups etc. and managed to hurt my back, on deadlift of all things. I’ve hurt my back before from a work related injury and always vowed to turn this weakness into a strength someday. This sucks cuz I love training back and doing the deadlift.
    My question is should I stop exercising all together and heal completely or just skip back day for now and resume the rest of the workout week. And what about diet? I’m trying to cut right now. Can I still follow that or should I be eating more for the healing process?

    Sorry for all the questions

    • I would skip deadlifts, squats, and RDL until you’re recovered. Maintain the cut.

  • Joe

    Hey Mike, I separated my shoulder doing bodyweight pullups and I won’t be able to do anything with it for 8-12 weeks. How do I minimize muscle loss and how should I eat? I’ve been on a cut but would think I should go at maintenance, right? Should i train my healthy arm somehow? The only exercises that i could think of that I could do are the leg press and machine calf raises. Any suggestions?

    • Ouch…sorry to hear about that Joe. I recommend going on maintenance and continue leg training. Leg press is great, and so is HIIT and other lower body bodyweight exercises:


      • Joe

        Ok great. Thanks for the advice!

        • Joe

          Also would biking be ok or would I lose too much muscle? I ride for about an hour at a time and there are hills so my legs burn.

          • Hills for riding and running are my favorite for torching fat! An hour is good. For your reference:


          • Joe

            Great, thanks Roger! One last question. I went to the gym today and tried doing my de-load week poundages and found that the low weights didn’t irritate my shoulder, so I did 3×10 of the 3 exercises. But I’m wondering if maybe I should do something like 4X12-15 or something like that, just to increase the volume. Would that help to preserve the muscle better or no? The goal is to preserve as much muscle over the next 3 months while I’m recovering.

          • 3×10 is a good setup to work with. It’ll give enough stress for muscles to keep up, without too much volume to irritate. Good to hear that your shoulder is feeling better.

          • Joe

            Hey, it’s me again. So I actually need to shut down all upper body workouts until I’m all healed since I was just aggravating the injury even though I was going light. So, since I can only work legs, abs, and cardio should i up the volume on those? Like instead of doing legs once a week, which I would normally do, should I do them twice a week or more often?

          • Ah man. Sorry to hear. Stick with the same volume.

          • Joe

            Thanks for the reply. Should I be weightlifting with only my good arm or would that cause other problems like muscle imbalance, poor posture, back pain, etc?

          • Lifting with your good arm will cause a physique imbalance, so I do not recommend that. If you are able to handle the extra volume now, you can try training legs twice a week.

            Get well soon!

  • Mickey

    This may be a stupid question, but is it okay to go back to deadlifting (lower weight/higher reps) if I still feel discomfort in my lower back?

    I’ve been taking it easy for a few weeks now, trying to stretch and massage it twice a day and using heat to the area and the pain is nowhere nearly as bad as it was when I got injured. I just still feel some discomfort from being in certain positions like rounding of the back. I know what my mistakes were that caused the injury so I know the proper form now. I just wanna know if I should just wait until completely healed and pain/discomfort free or if it’s okay to start small and work my way up again

  • Adrian gallardo

    So I start working out for about a month now going from 70 pounds to about 85 ish pounds on the bench and have noticed whenever I do the bicep curls my wrists start hurting. My wrists are now hurting me whenever I do everyday activities any advice?

    • Hi Adrian,

      Try the EZ Curl bar or hammer curls. Avoid putting them in situations and movements that irritate it. It should fix itself with time.

  • Sandy

    This will give you a good laugh. I’m a 52 year old female and thought I should start to lift weights to help build whatever muscle I have left. I made the mistake of starting with a 5 lb weight. I put the weight behind my head and did about 20 lifts to try and strengthen my shoulders. Well its been 5 months, and still have pain in both upper arms and cannot lift any weight using my top outer arm muscles. Like lifting a heavy coat off the hanger. Am I too late to correct this?

    • Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. Definitely get it checked out by a doctor, especially since it’s been this long. Not too late.

  • You are doing a great job. Thank you for sharing an informational blog.

    • Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying the articles as well.

  • Stephanie McDonald

    I have degenerative disc disease so I am unable to do any type of deadlift and the barbell squats. For back day I do seated rows instead of the barbell deadlift and instead of the barbell squat I do kettlebell squats, depending on how my back is I sometimes replace the barbell row with wide grip pulldowns. For legs and butt day I do leg extension instead of barbell squat and leg curl instead of Romanian deadlift. I can’t do a lot of the main workouts that you suggest, so I am feeling very defeated and like there is no point. Do you have better suggestions to what I am doing and if not, will I still see good results following your book like this? Please help!

    • justindellison

      Hey Stephanie,

      I have DDD as well as severe scoliosis and a couple herniated discs in my lumbar. What I’ve found, is that I can do most of the exercises called for in the workout, save for deadlifts. I’ve tried, but anytime I get any substantial weight placed on the bar and try to lift it, I end up hurting my lower back. I’ve replaced deadlifts with a T-Bar Row. Search Youtube for Scott Hermann T-Bar Row and you can see how to do those. The key is to lift the weight off the floor with your legs, not with your back. Once I have the weight up, I just lock my back into the 45-60 degree angle and I’m okay.

      Aside from that, I’ve found that I just have to wear a weightlifting belt if I hope to not injure myself. I know Mike isn’t a fan, but I just have to have that extra support.

      When I have a belt on, I’ve been able to do both front and back squats regularly, and I’m seeing good gains. I have to watch my form on those — if I go down below parallel, my lower back wants to curve as I get down that low, and that’s when I get injured. I just go down to parallel on those exercises, and have been able to complete them for awhile now. Romanian deadlifts are something I do weekly, I just make sure to lock my back and shoulders into place and hold them there at all costs. The Romanian deadlift is meant to work your hamstrings — if you’re getting back pain you might want to check your form. Again, Scott Hermann has a good youtube video of that one. Same thing on the barbell row, I just lock my lower back and shoulders into place and don’t have problems (with a belt).

      Finally, I’m very careful not to overdo it on the weight on any lifts that involve my back.

      I’m not a doctor, just some stranger on the Internet that has similar problems, so take it my advice for what it is :). Don’t be afraid to stop and decrease weight if you feel like you’re exerting yourself too much.

  • Alex Racca

    Hey Mike, do you have any quality research I could look in to or evidence-based practitioners who specializes in carpal tunnel syndrome? My both hands have CTS and it’s disheartening to not only train, but do any activities in general.

  • Summer Rose

    Hi Mike,

    First time commenting / asking question, even though I’ve been reading your site for years.

    I injured my left trap around three weeks ago or so. This is my second time injuring the same area, the first time happened nearly three years ago when I was doing leg lift reverse crunch and somehow accidentally toppled backward over my head and I heard a snap somewhere around my shoulder area, I managed to heal it completely by resting for a whole month and doing physio exercise to relieve the pain.

    This time I am not sure how it happened but I have a feeling maybe I got it while doing barbell shoulder presses. It didn’t snap this time, just started with a mild pain and getting progressively worse with time. I first thought it was just DOMS (though it couldn’t have been since I did not just started to press with a heavier weight, I was using the same weights from the previous session) so I just let it be. And three weeks on, it’s getting worse, though not to the point of the pain I experienced three years ago.

    I am now doing the physio exercises to heal it, and my question is, what kind of other strength training exercises can I do without involving my trap, so that I can still keep my progress in strength and muscles in other areas while resting my shoulders?

    I want to continue squatting but would putting the barbell on my shoulder work my trap? What about pull ups? Can I do those or I’d better forget it until I’ve healed completely? Curls? Hip thrusts? Any suggestion?

    Seems that I don’t feel the pain WHEN performing the lifting but they come hard after I’m done.

    Thanks Mike!

    • Hey Summer, sorry to hear about your traps! Exercises to avoid: deadlift, shoulder press, shoulder shrugs, upper rows (possibly), and squishing your traps might hurt? You’ll have to play that one by ear. Good guideline is to stop an exercise if you start feeling pain or feel pain later.

      • Summer Rose

        Thanks Roger for the response.
        I’m happy to report that after 3-4 days of doing rehabilitation exercise, my pain is gone. I’m going to wait for a bit more to be sure that it has completely healed before I attempt any pull ups or shoulder presses.


    Hi Mike, somehow I strain my intercostal muscle during squats or dead lifts (not sure which one contribute more). Do you know if that is sign of a weak core or sign of bad technique? Should I drop a weight little bit once I’m fully recovered?You thing that lifting belt will help with creating the necessary core pressure to stabilize my core and back?
    Thanks …………..

    • Youch. With no video, it’s hard to say what happened there. Typically it’ll be due to technique.

      Lifting belt won’t help, by the way. It won’t ever fix a problem with technique.

  • Joe

    Hey Mike, I need your advice. I’m coming back to weightlifting after a long layoff (6 months+) due to a bad shoulder injury. I’ve lost a lot of strength and, according to the doctor, have to build up very, very gradually. I was able to perform the bench press with only 115lbs for sets between 6 and 8 reps. It was surprisingly challenging, but I was able to get through my chest workout in about 20 minutes. My question is, since I can’t go heavy, should I up the volume? If so, how much?

    • Hi Joe, as long as you’re progressively overloading, the 6-8 rep range works just fine. No need to increase volume.

      • Joe

        Ok thanks!

        • No probs!

          • Joe

            Hey agin, so I’m not really able to progress with heavier weights due to some lingering pain so I was thinking of increasing the volume, because as I said, I’m able to finish my workout in like 20 minutes and it feels like I’m not doing enough. Sound good? If so, how many more sets would you recommend?

          • That’s totally fine! Feel free to add another 3-4 sets.

  • Nick

    Hey Mike, I’m a huge fan of all your content. You’re my go-to for anything workout-related, and I appreciate everything you do to help us out. Anyway, I’ve steadily progressed on my dumbbell bench press. I’m now doing 3×5 of 75 lb dumbbells, but today I noticed I had some shoulder pain. My issue is when I finish my sets, I’ve been dropping the dumbbells on my side, which puts a lot of tension on my shoulders. Is that a common cause of shoulder injury, and do you have any advice on how to fix this? I think it’s holding back my progress on my overhead shoulder press as well. Thanks a ton!

    • Hey Nick, the first thing I’d recommend is to check your form and make sure you’re not flaring out your elbows on your presses. Second, it’ll be more comfortable with a controlled drop not directly by your sides, but more towards your feet. That’ll take the tension off.

  • Fernando

    Hey, Mike!

    I’ve been on BLS for around a year, and it’s been great! But, I’ve been running into a very annoying problem that keeps me from progressing. It happens when I flat bench heavy (4-6), regular or close grip, with a barbell. I feel a slight shock running down my right arm only in the last couple reps (when it gets harder). I’m pretty annoyed by this, let alone a bit freaked out, because it’s been getting in the way of my lifting, and it’s pretty concerning!

    Please, help me out!

    Thanks a lot in advance. You guys rule! Keep at it!

    • Hey Fernando,

      Good to hear you’ve been on BLS for around a year! Grats. Regarding your presses, the first thing I’d check is your form:


      It’s very possible that towards the end of the set, form is suffering, and the resulting compensatory pattern is placing the wrong kinds of stress on your arm. If form isn’t the issue, I’d get it checked out by a physical therapist if taking a week break doesn’t improve it.

  • Hey Mike, I have pain in my wrists that mostly come out on shoulder days (side lateral raises are the worst for this). Some of the pulls on back day aren’t that great, and I’m told the bench presses aren’t helping though I don’t really feel the pain on chest day.

    I saw my doctor, who recommended three weeks of no exertion, which means no exercise. Ugh! I can’t take three weeks off the gym. I’ll go mad! Luckily I was coming up on a deload week, so I just took that week off, but came back to it. And the wrists weren’t much better. There’s no swelling or inflammation. I just think I’ve been carrying my work bag and gym bag in a bad way. I can try ice, and then wearing some kind of heat wrap for a bit. Any general advice, or are there any alternative exercises I can do so I don’t have to take three whole weeks off from resistance training?

    • Yowch. First, are your wrists bending backwards when pressing? That can do a number on them. Make sure they’re straight. In the meantime, you can try sets of 8-10 shoulder presses or front raises if those feel okay.

      • I did incline benches today and didn’t notice that, but I’ll watch on my next cheat day if they’re bending. Do you mean that the palms are facing downward? I usually cushion the bar in my palms at about a 45-degree angle. Maybe this is my problem?

        I’ll check out the front raises. In fact, I’m cycling back to a phase 2 in the 1-Year Plan in two weeks and, IIRC, front raises are in there. Coincidence!

        As a late edit, it’s not the entire wrist that hurts, just the bottoms, in line with the pinkies. And it’s not a full-on pain, just annoying. I’ll put it this way: it’s never stopped me from doing a lift and I have yet to cringe or yelp when I feel it.

        • Well, that’s good! Regarding the wrist while pressing, you want the bar closer to your wrist than to your fingers to prevent the wrist from bending back. Like this:


          And for the side raises, try to going higher rep, leaning forward slightly and pointing your thumbs a bit up.

          Hope that helps! LMK how it goes.

  • Big PaPa

    47 year old male been in the gym since god created the heavens. between boxing and weights and everything between. still active in the gym at least 5 days a week. 12 years ago tore my right bicep on the heavy bag. refused to get it fixed, cuz one im stubborn and two was not in the mood to wait for a long recovery time of doing nothing….anyway big mistake i regret…regardless. the question finally…is it still worth it for me to do arm exercises at this point in the game? i mean for some reason its really bothering me the deformity and nlah blah blah..but should i avoid due to the difference in arm sizes? i dunno..yes i know do what makes ya happy and stay active and all, but should i skip the arm workouts and just let them get their benefir from back and shoulder workouts??? no matter how hard i search i cannot find another online with my dilemma…any feedback would be great. thanx and god bless.

    • Hey hey! Sorry to hear about the tear. I haven’t done much research on this. I recommend checking with your doc on this.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  • Christine

    Hi Mike! I’m recovering from a year long lower back injury. The good news is that I’m making lots of progress returning to normal. Bad news is that I gained 8 pounds while being inactive. (Before injury I had lost 18 pounds with 8 more to go). For about 3 months now I’ve been rehabbing the muscle, regainning basic strength, and trying to lose the weight. My weight has maintained despite a deficit of 700ish calories, (27, female, 5’2). Body fat is going down extremely slow. Maybe .5% a month. All I can do right now is about 30 minutes of walking plus yoga/body weights. No high impact or weights yet. The workouts are tough but I don’t sweat & I only burn ~300 calories. Do you think I should just wait until I’m fully healed to try to lose weight? Is my body just trying to build strength and that’s why I’m not seeing a change on the scale? Not sure what I should do from here…any advice would be appreciated!

    • Hey Christine!

      Sorry to hear about your back. Are you able to work the upper body? Ie. bench presses, seated overhead press, etc where you can stabilize your back? Also, are you able to use the rowing machine or recumbent bike? You can still pack in the exercise doing those exercises–even if at a lower intensity. (Just need to increase the duration if not doing HIIT).

      • Christine

        I am able to work my upper body but not allowed to pick up free weights yet. I’m doing a lot of body weight exercises – which actually is making me sore since I lost so much strength. Since my weight is staying the same but body fat is progressing down, could I actually be building muscle? I’m pretty much doing these exercises til failure. For cardio I was just able to walk 1.5 miles last week which was a big achievement

        • Great! That’s a good sign if your weight is staying the same while your BF% is going down. Strength increasing?

          • Christine

            Strength is definitely increasing from where I was in January. Is there anything I can do to speed up the fat loss? I know since I’m limited physically – it’s all my diet, it just seems so slow right now. Hard to tell if what I’m doing is really working.

          • Be in a sufficient deficit, and work in some HIIT cardio on a recumbent bike or rower, if you can handle it.

    • Comic

      Hey, I’ve done the exact same thing. I pulled my lower back deadlifting too heavy weight with poor form. Two months later i’m still healing and haven’t started a routine apart from daily stretching. I can’t lift weights either yet. Starting to get quite depressing since it is taking so long to heal. How did you cope with it emotional with your injury? It feels like it will never heal…

      • Christine

        That’s exactly how I pulled my lower back too. It was definitely depressing at times, especially if you’re an active person. My advice would be to listen to your body very closely, another month off from the gym is better than 8 months because you furthered it by pushing too hard in a fragile state. Really let yourself heal. Keep stretching – the worst advice I got from an ortho was to stop all activity completely, including PT…that made it that much harder for me to start moving again. Also PT has really helped – they will check all your alignments & rehab the muscle. I was also prescribed muscle relaxers which helped sometimes but not fully since the injury was old & so stubborn. I wore thermacare heatwraps every day for two months, took a hot shower twice a day, used a handheld stims device all throughout the day, slept w a pillow under my knees, used a baseball against a wall to massage out the area, bought a foam roller (if quads, hip flexors, & glutes are tight so is your back), paid close attention to posture, & made sure whenever I went I wasn’t standing for more than 30 minutes. It was a tough journey. A lot could have been avoided if I just accepted the injury in the beginning. My saying throughout was persist & resist. Persist in your efforts, in healing & moving forward, & resist giving into despair, worry, discouragement, negativity, especially on the most painful days! Hope this helps

  • Thanks for sharing

  • SAC415

    Ive been following you and your plan for a couple years now. 3 months ago I slept on my wrist strained it and stubbornly lifted through the pain. After a few days I took a couple weeks off and the pain came back. I haven’t lifted in over a couple months and am going insane! Im currently working with a massage l therapist ( two weeks so far and two sessions). Her opinion is that she can cure it so I can start lifting in 8 weeks. Ive lost a signifact amount of muscle although Ive been trying to refrain from cardio and been aiming to consume a high protein diet. Any tips ,( should i start taking the Legion creatine during this off time?) and are you familiar with carpal tunnel and how it effects lifters?

    • SAC415

      Also any tips on how to keep active during this time? Lifting has literally been by go to drug to de stress and Ive been advised to stress less for optimal recovery and its sort of hard to do when I can’t lift anymore

      • Hey there, sorry to hear about the injury! You may be able to find some exercises that don’t aggravate your wrist, and stick with those. For example, maybe you could leg press, or even squat. The important thing is just to avoid any exercises that hurt, and allow yourself time to heal. Once you’re healthy and can lift again, you’ll regain quickly thanks to muscle memory. Check this out: https://legionathletics.com/muscle-memory/

  • Steph

    Hi! I’m injured and will have to stay out of the gym for at least a couple of weeks. Would should my protein intake be during this time?

    • Hey Steph! I’d recommend eating at maintenance with 1g protein per lb of bodyweight. Good luck with the recovery 🙂

  • Mrs. Riddell

    Hi Mike,
    Yesterday I did Day 3 Shoulders and Abs on my 5 day split. I’ve never sustained an injury in the gym. When doing leg lifts for my abs (my very last exercise), as soon as I was done I started limping. The muscle in my butt that connects to my thigh bone (just guessing thats what it is) seem to be slightly out of whack. It drives me crazy because I wasn’t even working legs yesterday. Should I do legs today anyhow, or should I skip to Day 5 Upper body and Abs? Thanks!

    • If your leg is still feeling a bit “off” today, I’d give it a chance to get better. You don’t want to workout with a compromised muscle and make it worse. You can skip to Day 5, or just take a rest day and resume once you’re feeling good. Good luck!

  • Jesse Self

    Hi Mike, I strained my neck today doing weighted pull-ups (BW @150 lbs +90 lbs). I was on rep #4 (close to my max reps) when I felt the strain. I always use great form. My working weight is probably BW + 70 lbs.
    My warm up was as follows:
    1 BW set for 10, rest 90 seconds
    1 BW +45 lbs set for 10, rest 2 minutes
    Would I have been better off doing BW + 70 lbs for a few reps before jumping to the 90 or doing some lat pulldowns at lighter than BW? My BW is like 68% of my working weight, so to warm up at 50% would have to be lighter than my BW. Jumping from BW + 45 lbs to BW + 90 lbs did feel like a big jump. It was also in the morning time when I generally feel much weaker. I wasn’t thinking about that at the time.

    • Hey Jesse, sorry to hear about the strained neck. I typically wouldn’t do weighted pull-ups as my first exercise, so I’d already be warmed up with deadlifts and rows before starting.

      However, if you really want to do weight pull-ups first, I’d recommend doing your first couple warm-up sets with the lat pulldown machine at 50% of your working weight. Then do 70% of your working weight for 4 reps, and then 90% for 1.

      Check this out: https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-warm-up-for-workouts/

      • Jesse Self

        Thanks! I’m going to try that next time and see how it goes.

  • imkamalprasad

    hey mike ,
    while doing squats , i got lower back pain/ injury . but still i am able to do maany of my workouts . but i am feeling to stop squats and legs workout .
    please suggest me some exercise which will help me to quicky heal my back pain.

    thank you ,

  • Jawsh Yoast

    I have been doing the one year challenge for a couple months now. I was about ready to graduate from phase 2 to phase 3 when an injury, an illness and some extra work knocked me out of the gym for a few weeks. Where do I start when I go back? Phase 1, 2 or 3?

    • Hey man, you can just pickup where you left off 🙂

  • Brian Fernandes

    Hi Mike, I purchased BLS 4 months ago and have to thank you for the extreme change im experiencing in both workouts and diet. I have a tear in my left quadricep. It isn’t major and the doctor said I could continue with upper body exercises though i have to rest the left quadricep completely. Meaning no deadlifts, quadricep excercises like squats and lunges and no cardio machines.Though he did say i could continue to workout my right leg.
    I have 3 questions:
    1. Should i continue to train my right leg and quadricep? What about muscle imbalance?
    2. Could you please help me out with a back workout as the back workout in BLS revolves around the deadlift.
    3. The doctor advised no cardio machines. Is there any other way i could get in my cardio workout?

    Thanks so much in advance

    • Hey Brian! I’m glad you’re experiencing positive changes with your diet and training. keep it up 🙂

      1) I’d probably skip the right leg workouts until you’re cleared to lift again using your left leg as well. You don’t want to create an even bigger imbalance.

      2) If you can’t deadlift, focus more on rows and pull-ups.

      3) Can you do rowing for HIIT? Or even just walking?

      I hope this helps!

      • Brian Fernandes

        Hey Mike yes that is really very helpful thank you very much!
        Have a couple more questions on the topic:-
        1) regarding the topic of imbalances, your thoughts please? Is there an article I could refer?
        Because while doing dumbell rows, one side seems to lift the weight more easily than the other. Due to this I’m unsure what to do, whether to make changes in volume and weight and which side to make it on…
        2) your thoughts on anaerobic hiit as a form of cardio please? I’ve found a workout where it’s A working set of a body weight exercise for 20 seconds And a 10 second rest for 3 sets. This goes on over a span of roughly 10 minutes of 7 exercises 1 and a half minute each

        Thanks once again!

  • Hey Michael. I’ve been following BLS for a good 8 weeks now. Very happy with the results, thanks!!

    I have, however, recently injured my left ‘latissimus dorsi’. And being a stable user, The pain shows up durrinf bench press, military press, dead lift (and probably squat… ive yet to test).

    In short: with every major move there is pain (Less and more depending on the move).

    Either way, I feel I should let it completely rest and heal before doing anything more.

    In the meantime… What might you recommend I do? Should I use machines and just work on isolating my biceps (on something like the preacher curl chair), or the triceps, or perhaps do cardio so that I avoid that muscle?

    Note: I took off last week, thinking THAT might do the trick, but when I started up again this week… The pain started up again.

    That said, I realize #rest is the best answer, but I would love to hear any suggestions you may have for other activities, so I don’t feel like a sloth while I wait for the injury to heal. Perhaps light cardio? Jump rope?

    Thank you, SIR!!!

    • Hey Michael! Great to hear you’re pleased with your results so far! That sucks about the injury, though.

      I’d definitely let it rest and avoid anything that aggravates the area. Feel free to do any exercises that don’t hurt. Some isolation movements and cardio should be fine. Just make sure to take the time you need, and don’t work through pain or jump back in too soon or you could wind up with a more serious issue.

      I hope this helps!

  • Christopher Reilly

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve had a series of injuries over the last 9 months or so that I’m going to see a doctor about tomorrow. For the record I’m not sure what the cause is, but it nonetheless prevents me from lifting until I’ve recovered.

    It’s easy to fall of the wagon when you’re not lifting and get a little lazy about nutrition, which is where I’m at right now, so I’m telling myself I should at least go for a light jog just to keep my calorie burn a bit higher, but the broscientist in me says if all I do is run and don’t lift I will wither away, so I might as well sit around and “preserve” what muscle I have for when I start to lift again.

    What’s the real story here? Can I go for some light jogs / run and not sacrifice much muscle loss (sitting around feels like crap, so there’s some upside regardless), or will I decay away into a twig?

    Thanks, Chris

  • Nathan Hanak

    Hello Mike. Currently recovering from a back injury, caused by myself letting my form slip at the last rep of a last set of front squats. I let go of my core bracing at the wrong spot because I was focusing on pushing with my hips and legs…

    I’m wondering how to approach this in the future, because I feel like it happens frequently at this point in the working set for compound movements. First set or two one is able to maintain good form, but by the end one is fatiguing and perhaps trying to focus on really pushing through to hit your numbers. How does one maintain the proper balance of “pushing yourself” in a good way but without sacrificing form? Should I Lower the weight of my working set the moment I sense my form might be compromised even a small amount?

  • Brent

    Hey Mike,

    Just downloaded BLS and really looking forward to digging in! My question isn’t necessarily around lifting, but rather cardio. To give you a sense of my physical activity, I keep in fairly decent shape. I mostly do crossfit (thankfully at a box that’s super strict on form/safety) and supplement with going to a normal gym a couple times per week. Point is I stay active, but it’s mostly HIIT stuff.

    But lately anytime I do something cardio related outside of that normal routine, I end up straining, pulling or tweaking a muscle (usually hamstring and calf). So all the fun stuff like playing basketball, throwing around a football, etc. is an accident waiting to happen. I’m aware of how injury prone I am so I try and adequately stretch beforehand, but it doesn’t seem to help. My question is how to avoid muscle strains. Have you written any posts on that? Have I gotten too used to my current routine? Is there something I can change in my diet? Any tips or articles you could point me to would be helpful!


Sign in to Muscle For Life
or use your MFL Account