Question 1: I got a sore elbow from doing curls. It doesn't hurt so bad that I can't lift, but my grip isn't as strong. Is this a permanent pain?” – Chad Jenkins

I hear this same complaint pretty much every day at my gym. And 99% of the time it comes from doing tons of curls with a straight barbell. Nothing will wreck your wrists and elbows faster than performing curls with a bar that locks you into an unnatural fixed position. Transitioning to dumbbells for biceps work will allow your wrists and elbows to move freely as you curl, and this will be the best decision you’ll make for your long-term training. 

Replacing the bar with dumbbells will hep account for each lifter’s individual limitations and levers. Some other exercises you might not think about are chin-ups and pull-ups. They have been known to cause the same issues; pain in your elbows, wrists and shoulders. The chin-up/pull-up bar is fixed too, right? Simply by changing to neutral grip, using softball grips or towels; is the key is to finding a different angle that feels better to you. 

As an older lifter, I rarely do pull-ups on a straight bar or curls with a barbell. With that being said, if your pain has not subsided, I would definitely recommend going to see your doctor to get checked out. It is better to be safe than sorry. 



Question 2: “How do you stop people from doing curls in the squat rack!?” – Dion Lewis 

There are actually several things someone could do in this situation—such as standing behind them making bird sounds, talking really loudly on your cell about needing to get to your doctor for a special ointment, or just singing Justin Bieber songs while they perform their set—but I would never recommend any of them. 

Just like you, they paid their membership and can use the equipment for whatever they want, especially if they get there before you. Fortunately, if you wait until they’re done, you can grab the spot and hang there as long as you want for your workout. We’ve actually done entire workouts without ever moving off the squat rack. 

You can sequence power cleans from the hang, squats, RDLs, bent over rows, and pull-ups into a full body workout and dominate. Be patient and applaud their efforts for actually getting to the gym and putting some work in. 


Meet the Lift Doctor

Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the 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.