Are Long Term Injuries In Lifting Inevitable?

lifting injury
May 31, 2023 0 Comments

Table of Contents


In this article I will be answering the question “are long term injuries in lifting inevitable?”. This is an important subject to unpack as it is very interesting.

Is every lifter ultimately doomed to the same fate in the end? Will they all experience inevitable long term injuries? 

Previously on this site I have discussed how to avoid injuries at the gym. This article will be a deeper discussion into this topic. I hope you will enjoy reading.

Are Long Term Injuries In Lifting Inevitable?

Long term injuries are not inevitable. How many injuries you experience from lifting and how severe they are depends on many factors.

Some of these factors are in your control. If you perform super heavy squats and deadlifts regularly, the risk of experiencing an injury down the line is greater than if you do lighter squats and deadlifts.

If you are performing one rep maxes too often, you will also have a higher risk of detrimental injuries. Not all factors are in your control. Sometimes you can do everything right but just suffer a freak accident.

This can happen to anyone. The important thing is to control what you can and be smart about your training. Lifting with good technique and paying attention to the important variables will reduce your risk of long term injuries.
lifting injury

Incorrect Technique

Technique is always of paramount importance and it is crucial to establish good technique from the start on every exercise.

A big cause of lifting injuries has to do with incorrect or inefficient technique. On exercises where you are handling lots of weight like the squat and deadlift, bad technique can really cause you damage!

You should practice with very light weights to dial in the correct form first. It is a good idea to do some form check videos early on with working weights. This is so that you can critique your technique.

Have other respected lifters and strength coaches analyse your technique and give you feedback. This will help you to lift more safely and develop yourself better over time.

How Heavy Are You Going?

It is true that regular super heavy training will incur a higher risk of injury over time than training more often with sub maximal loads.

You need to take stock of how you are training and make an assessment of how your body is reacting to the physical demands you are asking it to endure. 

From my experience, deadlifting super heavy even once a week for months on end can eventually lead to increased risks of injury. Eventually your body will reach a point where it is not fully recovered, the heavier loads will take their toll.

Even strongmen like Eddie Hall advocate alternating between heavy deadlifts and speed deadlifts. This is a better approach for longevity and will allow you to recover more optimally between deadlift workouts.

>> Is It Bad To Rest For Too Long Between Sets?

Overtraining And Overuse Injuries

Some lifting injuries can come about from overtraining and overuse. Both can go hand in hand, it is very important to pay attention to your recovery between sessions.

If you train back one day and do lots of rows, you shouldn’t be incorporating rows the following day with your back still sore. You need to give your muscles adequate time to recover and get stronger.

When it comes to overuse injuries, consistently sticking with a certain exercise over time can lead to some overuse injuries. When it comes to assistance movements, it is a good idea to rotate exercises every so often.

This will help to reduce the risk of getting overuse injuries. It is a tactic that Matt Wenning advocates a lot.

Poor Mobility

Poor mobility can also increase injury risks. Having tight shoulders and hips are the big culprit for many people. You can do some daily drills or simple exercises a few days a week to open up tight hips and improve shoulder mobility.

Resistance bands are a great tool for mobility exercises. Even simple band pull aparts will work wonders for improving your shoulder mobility. They will also strengthen the rear delts which are a weakness for many people.

Many people are sat down for long periods of time which can exacerbate mobility problems, especially as it relates to tight hips. Therefore, doing regular mobility work is a great investment. The couch stretch is a simple stretch that works very well for opening up tight hips.

Ego Lifting

I have mentioned ego lifting in previous articles. But it is very important to talk about simply because it is so common. 

In virtually every gym you go to, you will see examples of ego lifting. People trying to squat a weight that is too heavy for them, to the point where they are only doing quarter reps.

People bench pressing weights that are too heavy for them and bringing the bar down just half way. All these things happen frequently, but they shouldn’t.

When you ego lift you are not doing anything good for yourself in terms of making lifting progress. You are just trying to validate your own ego to feel good about yourself.

Instead, it is far better and more productive to lower the weight and perform exercises with the correct technique. Progressing in this manner will give you far better gains in terms of real strength and size. 

Ego lifting is a lot more injurious and carries a greater risk of long term injury. 
ego lift

Reducing The Risk Of Injuries

I have already talked about how to avoid injuries in the gym in a previous article. I am not going to go over those points again, however I will add in some extra points.

Following a proper progression that you track every week will really help you to reduce the risk of injury. If you are haphazard in your training approach and just load weight onto the bar when you feel like it, you will be taking more risks.

Every workout you have, you should make a note of how the weights felt. This will prove to be very important when it comes to planning your next workout.

Lets say you leg pressed 140kg both sides for 6 reps, but the 6th rep was really tough. Instead of moving up in weight, you could aim to keep the weight the same the following week but do 7 reps instead.

This way you are still making progress but not going too far beyond your capabilities week to week. I use this type of approach on all my exercises.

Hydration and rest also plays a bigger role than people think. I have a friend who tore his pec on a bench press, the weight wasn’t too heavy either. It came about from insufficient hydration.

Being hydrated well during your workout is very important. Likewise, fuelling your body with the right nutrients and getting adequate rest will help you to reduce injuries.

Previously I have outlined how the vertical diet can improve your success in bodybuilding.

Don’t Get Snapped Up!

Sometimes despite our best efforts, we simply can’t avoid getting hurt. All you can do is control the controllables and train as smart as you can.

Be honest with yourself about how you are training and any measures that you can take to optimise things. Can you get the same or better results will less risks in your training?

Ultimately, we want lifting weights and fitness to be a lifestyle that we stick to for the long term. Many people come and go but not many stick to this lifestyle for 20 years or longer.

This should be the ultimate goal, training with a view to maximising longevity.

Final Thoughts

Are long term injuries in lifting inevitable? The answer is that they are not. It is possible to control what you can and minimise injury risk.

However, it is possible to do everything right and still suffer a long term lifting injury. There are risks in every activity and lifting is no different in this regard. 

The rule of thumb is that the longer you lift the more chance you will have of suffering an injury. Most injuries are minor but some are more serious.

At the end of the day, what is most important is to enjoy lifting weights and do so as safely as you can. Try to stick to the exercises that have a better risk to reward ratio and aim for a long term approach.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> Why Do Sandbags Feel Heavier Than Weights?

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