What can send make a big, bad bodybuilder quake with terror and frantically scramble for help? The specter of injury—a twinge that’s not supposed to be there, an inexplicable loss of strength, a pin-prick pain that intensifies through the set, or one that starts throbbing long after you leave the gym—can curtail your progress for months or even end your career. To avert such disasters, alert yourself to the real-life advice from these four pro champions; then, put it into practice, not as a casual habit but as a continuous, conscious constitutional for every workout.
Vince Taylor – “I once tore my biceps tendon loose from doing curls with warm-up weight; another time, I had such a tendon problem with my wrist that I couldn’t move my thumb. Consequently, I decided to train as heavy as I safely could. Maniacal workouts are injuries waiting to happen. If you feel a twinge in your back or knee with squats, switch to leg presses for a while; if your heavy benches produce a warning sensation, lighten them, and use higher reps.”
Shawn Ray – “I like 8-15 reps, performed smoothly and hard, but if fall short of that final, extra burn before asking for a spotter to help me with a few more, I feel I’m also falling short of some injury potential. I’ll take the latter. In the long run, I’ll be ahead. My advice: Use perfect form all the time.”
Mike Ashley – “I still lift as heavy as I can but with the mentality of a bodybuilder, not of a powerlifter. The wise bodybuilder also learns which of his joints are most vulnerable; we all have an individual weakness—maybe the lower back, a knee, a shoulder. Avoid irritating it. Heavy pounding of the joints every workout is what does the damage, so I cycle my training sequentially through heavy, medium and light days; but even on heavy days, I perform my reps with precision.”
Robbie Robinson – “Have a good sense of your body. Know how to catch a problem before it develops. If my joints are a little sore, I know I’ve been lifting too heavy for too long, so I’ll adjust by lowering the weight and going for the burn with higher reps. Everybody wants to give advice, but your best teacher is experience. That’s why your mind-muscle connection is so important: It’s the same technique you should use for injury awareness. Your body talks to you. Listen to it, and heed it.”