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When to push and when to back off

Every now and then I get this question from my lifters about when they need to push through the pain or discomfort and when they need to back off on the intensity.

My general rule of thumb is always “what are your goals?”

If your goals are to be a competitive lifter whether it’s Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding etc... and you have tendinitis in your elbow because of all the benching and the squatting, then my immediate response would be push and work through the tendinitis. However, if you have  tendinitis and your goals are to continue to become fit and strong, but that discomfort is irritating you throughout the day then maybe the answer is to back off.

It always goes back to your goals.

Another good rule of thumb when deciding when to push and when not to is to ask yourself: “are you hurt or are you injured?” If you’re hurt you could keep going, if you’re injured, you need to go see a doctor. For example if the bar is raising calluses on your hands and it is creating some discomfort, you should keep going, nothing bad is going to happen. But if you're having hip discomfort and pain even outside of the gym, it's time to back off and analyze.


Another thing to remember; none of us are teenagers anymore and we do not have the luxury of getting injured and being totally fine the next day.

Lastly take into account what you were willing to do as far as recovery goes. If you know you aren’t going to take the time to recover then you should air on the side of caution. However, if you know that you are committed to excellence and committed towards pursuing your goals then you should push, because you and your coach will know that you will to do to the recovery necessary to come back the next day just as strong.