I hate injuries. They stop you from doing what you want to do. But just as I've experienced, it's important to be positive and learn throughout the experience, and find new goals. Despite what some people think, personal trainers/coaches/athletes all go through it. And a lack of positivity can happen to everyone, even those that are really positive.
We are all human!
Sometimes it's nice to know that even those that seem the most invulnerable can be vulnerable. It's not that we wish vulnerability upon someone, but it's nice to know that others are human too. I've never really had many serious injuries, despite all the sports I've played. The most serious injures are that I fractured my wrist in basketball and badly sprained my ankle a couple times, got shoulders which are prone to injury thanks to genetics and have been slowly chipped away at with lots of punching and padwork in kickboxing for a couple years. Other than that, in weight lifting, I've displaced a bone in my wrist through front squatting and having unbelievably tight wrists. I think I've done pretty well in all honesty. But, back in March 2017, after my 2nd powerlifting competition, in my deload week I put my back out. It was pretty bad and I realised I needed to get it looked at and get it sorted as soon as possible. It was going great, I was able to train with heavy weights again after about 3 months. Then, I felt it go again. I had to take a large step back from Powerlifting, for a time.
Retrospect is so easy. Looking back to before my competition (this is not a list of excuses, in fact, in my competition I got everything I wanted, my bench was a bit rubbish, but that was due to a niggling shoulder/chest) 2 weeks before it I was horrendously ill. I lost 4kgs in 2 and a half days. My partner and I were moving house at the time, so it was a stressful time (packing boxes and moving them back and forth was fine, but it's still stressful none-the-less). I got back to the gym on the Tuesday to resume my programme (high intensity, pre-competition phase, singles of upwards of 100% of my 1RM) and still hit a 150-155kg squat (can't remember exactly how much now), it was really slow, but I got it. Probably shouldn't have done that though. After my competition on the Sunday, my back was achey. I completed my heaviest ever deadlift and it took me 5 seconds to complete it, so no sh*t sherlock. I was on a deload week after, but decided to do a few things in the week, nothing hectic, pretty sensible to be fair. The Friday of that week was when I put my back out, I had gotten some new knee sleeves that I couldn't wait to try. I went for a squat at 85% for 1 rep. That was enough, my back was really achey. That was me done. I rested up and trained sensibly over the next 3 months. Fast forward and the second time I did it, i was tired, I was a little ill, and I went heavy again, when really, I needed to rest or dial back the intensity at the very least.
Learn to read your body
Bottom line is, I should have read my body better. Competition was probably still on the cards? But I definitely needed to rest longer after that horrible weekend, or maybe not go for such heavy attempts that week, or even in the competition I could have gone for lighter attempts. The 2nd time, I should have read my warmups better, as they were feeling really heavy, I was feeling tired and weak. But that's so much easier said now I'm looking back.
Ok Ben, so now you've had a whinge, what are you trying to say?
Injuries suck. But, I had to move on. Powerlifting had been my obsession for the past year (and it still is!) and my absolute focus in the gym, as well as a massive focus outside of the gym. I even had a few dreams about it (noooooo, not those kind of dreams). Then, I had to put it on hold. Because of all of that, I lost all focus in the gym. Lifting weights for aesthetics is great, don't get me wrong. But I couldn't have that as my main goal. I needed that whole Powerlifting challenge. My next big goal after that comp was to hit a 200kg deadlift. I had it in my sights.
Try a change of tact
I was trying to change tact and think positively. Over the following weeks I flitted around, not sure of what I wanted to achieve in the gym. One week I was doing a variant of German volume training, the next I was back to regular tempo, moderate volume. I got interested in training in HIT as well, which is very different from HIIT which you might be thinking of.
I decided to stick with regular tempo, moderate volume, very 'bodybuilding' style, 3x a week. I also decided to pursue bouldering (climbing without a harness), as I've always enjoyed it, but never really been very good, my style is ugly to say the least. It gave me a different focus and with 3 sessions in the gym a week, and 1 boulder session, it was enough for me to stay sane. I decided to try to improve on my climbing technique, and conquer my fear of heights.
It's important to set goals
I'm pretty good when it comes to goal setting. I go out to achieve what I want, and my focus is unbreakable. Without any focus I can't do a thing. It's good, and it's bad. I needed to change my focus from Powerlifting, to rehabbing my back and climbing.
Consider some nutritional changes I also used this time to experiment more with my nutrition, which was a great way of shifting focus. In March 2017 I started calorie counting and macro counting, losing a lot off my gut in 2 months. I then tried intermittent fasting (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating window, with no calorie/macro counting) and then in August 2017 I decided to macro/calorie count whilst intermittent fasting (with the same hours of fasting and eating), high on fats (50-60%), much lower carbs (~10-20%) and a moderate amount of protein. All to see what sort of effect that would have on my body. It was hard to know how my strength was doing because I couldn't really test it. Strength will decrease due to a loss of muscle through injury, but also when in a calorie deficit you will lose some strength.
When I do go back to competing in 2018 I plan to compete in the 74kg category, which suits my frame better. I just got a bit tubby when I was trying to put on weight to get to the high end of the 83kg category.
So don't be disheartened!
It's understandable when injury causes you some discontent for not having a focus in the gym. I know how frustrating it is to have injuries. Try to be positive, let out a rant here and there, but plod along. It will get better, and you can get back to what you were doing previously, to at least some degree, so long as you take your run up sensibly. That's what I kept reminding myself.
Thanks for reading!