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After you’re cleared by your doctor, you have to start slow. You also need to do some work on finding ‘why’ you got injured in the first place. Did you get out of position on the last rep? Did you lose your tension when locking the weight out? Was it too much weight or too many reps at that weight? Do you have a weakness that affects your ability to be strong throughout the lift?
Some simple things to think about when you’re deadlifting are position and tension.
Basically, can you get into a good position when the bar is on the floor and before you even do the first repetition? Your back should always be straight (neutral), your head should be looking forward or slightly down, and your knees should be as close to the bar as possible. If you can get into this good position, you are more likely to be able to finish in a good position and be safe.
Now, when you get into a good position, the more tension you can create the stronger you’ll be (i.e., lift heavier weights) and you’ll decrease the likelihood of injury. You can create tension or torque in your shoulders by pulling up on the bar prior to pulling the weight. And creating tension at the hips is done by driving your knees outward against your arms. Remember, the more tension you can create, the stronger you’ll be.
Finally, having a stronger core will always help with any compound exercise. A favorite core exercise to improve my deadlift strength is the ab rollout. Ab rollouts reinforce a straight back and teach you how to create a large amount of tension across the entire torso. They also strengthen the lats and move the shoulders through a great range of motion, which will help improve your lockout strength.
Doing a little detective work and working on your technique before you start deadlifting again will help you prevent an injury from happening in the future.
It really depends on a few really important factors.
What was the intensity of the workout?
Intensity is the key to everything. If you go into the workout and just get through the sets and reps you have written down for the workout, then the session probably wasn’t that intense. But if you went in and pushed the pace with the rest periods and lifted the heaviest weight possible for each set – where you couldn’t get even one more rep on that last set – then you could probably say the workout was really intense. The more intense the session was, the longer recovery you’ll need before your next workout.
What exercises did you use?
Compound exercises not only target more muscle groups and develops serious muscle mass, they are take a toll on the body. Hitting squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, and power cleans are more taxing on the body to recover from then tricep kick backs, leg extensions and side laterals.
How good is your recovery?
Are you sleeping 7-9 hours a night? Are you drinking at least half your bodyweight in ounces each day? Are you eating good quality protein, leafy green vegetables and good starches throughout the day? Do you spend enough time warming up, stretching and hitting mobility work before and after your workout? The more you focus on recovery, the more often you can train hard and stay mobile. Remember, heavy strength training can make you inflexible and prevent you from moving without restriction. Make your recovery a priority and you’ll be able to train hard and remain injury-free.
Think of recovery as a flow that follows a simple wave. After heavy or high intensity training, there must be a period of lower intensity work to ensure you recover to a baseline higher than when you started. This is what training is all about. Training hard, recover, and grow bigger and stronger.
If you train too heavy too long, you will reduce the super-compensation effect associated with working out.
I’ve heard the numbers 48-72 hours recovery between high intensity training sessions and I’ve found this to be pretty close to true. If you sleep, and nutrition and hydration are on point, then you should have no problem hitting it hard every 3 days.
Meet the Lift Doctor
Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most “innovative strength coaches” in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach “beyond their potential.” He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.