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Too much...Too Fast.... Avoid this common training mistake!

You find something you love, you do it frequently because you love it (or because you want to get better at it), then all of a sudden you're injured and you're not able to do it anymore!

It's a story I hear frequently in my practice.

The story normally starts like this...

"I really wanted to get good at ______, so I added them after every workout."

"I wanted to get in shape so I signed up for a 5k and starting running every day."

"I was building a ________, so I shoveled dirt for 3 days straight."

"My ____ are weak, so I started this new ____ cycle."

"I had been just lifting weights, and then I started ____ about 3-6 months ago and my ____ hurt now."

"I signed up for a 10k, but really had not trained for it. Tried to run every day on the week leading up to the race. My ____ has been hurting since the race.

"I was preparing for a competition because I knew I had to do _____. So I was doing a lot of them."

...does this sound familiar?

Staying healthy has many components.

A major component that must be optimized in order to stay health is volume.

I choose this picture for the article because I learned this lesson the hard way when preparing for the 2013 Crossfit Regionals. Leading up to this event I performed drastically spiked my pistol volume to prepare for the 100's WOD.100's of pistols per week ultimately resulted in significant knee pain which would take almost 7 months to resolve.

Volume can come in a few forms. It can be that the overall volume of your training increased (absolute) or it can be that a specific area of your training is seeing more volume while the overall total volume stays the same (relative).

We all have a Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV). This is the maximum amount of volume our body is able to recover from. Train in amounts greater than what your body is able to recover from and you begin to break down. The human body is the great adaptor and your MRV will increase with training and decrease with de-training. This can be pretty aggravating to an athlete who trained at a certain level, then was forced to take time off due to life circumstances. When the athlete returns to their previous volume many times they develop some sort of ache or pain, simply because their body was not ready for the stress they were throwing at it. The body is amazing at adapting to the stresses we place on it as long as we dose the stresses in a graded manor. When we have points in our training where our volume spikes way above what we are used to recovering from, our body is unable to adequately recover from the stresses, and this is where we tend to see injuries.

Caption: This picture is significant of me learning this lesson the hard way when preparing for the 2013 Crossfit Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Leading up to this event I drastically spiked my pistol volume to prepare for the 100's WOD. 100's of pistols per week and too little recovery ultimately resulted in significant knee pain which would take almost 7 months to resolve.

Many times our body is able to buffer the extreme spike in volume with a little extra rest. However, when we do not let our body recover back to baseline, this is when injuries tend to show up.

Examples of this may be...

  • Performing "Murph". Maybe you're historically really good at pull ups, but you had not trained high volume pull ups in months. You then decide to go do 100 pull-ups with a 20 pound vest on. You finish the workout and for the next 6 days you cant straighten out your arms, your shoulders hurt, and your elbows hurt. You give yourself some extra rest, performed active recovery, slept great, ate great, and by the next week you feel ok again. You spiked yourself way

above MRV, gave yourself adequate rest, and you recovered.

  • Now let's say you struggle with pull ups and you really wanted to get your pull ups before attempting "Murph". For the 2 weeks leading up to the workout you added in pull ups 4-5x per week in order to do Murph as Rx. You notice that your shoulders and elbows feel a little tender, but you chalk it up to "It's just because I've done a lot of pull ups." Murph comes and you crush the workout as RX'd. High-fives all around! The next week you feel pretty beat up from Murph. Your elbows and shoulders are sore but you're excited to get even better, so you start doing a lot pull ups a few times a week after your normal classes (which frequently also include pull ups). You figure that the soreness will just work itself out. As the next few weeks progresses you start to realize that your shoulders and elbows actually are not feeling any better. If anything, they are feeling worse! They not only hurt during pull ups, but now they hurt with turning doorknobs, putting your arms up overhead, doing pushups, reaching in the back seat...etc. In this case your drastic increase in volume resulted in tissue injuries to your shoulders and/or elbows. You consistently worked above your MRV, without the adequate recovery to bring you back to baseline. Since you never made it back to your baseline tissue health, then you went and further stressed the tissues...and did this chronically, you developed an injury which now needs to be addressed.

Other examples of this might be...

  • An inactive person who decides they are going to get in shape starts working out 7x per week, then ends up injured after their first month.

  • A recreational runner (3-10 miles per week) decides they are going to train for a marathon and spikes their training volume (2-3x the milage per week) week instantly, then encounters nagging knee, hip, or foot pain.

There are countless examples of situations where this principle applies. The key principle is this, your body is able to recover effectively from a certain amount of stress. This amount of stress is dictated by previous training or detraining, biomechanics, nutrition, sleep, other life stresses, and recovery practices.

So how can I improve the amount of volume which I'm able to recover from?

  • Dial in sleep (quality and quantity), nutrition, mechanics, and develop quality stress management systems.

  • SLOWLY increase volume over the course of 1-2 months. Add in a little bit more every week until you're at the volume of training which you wish to complete.

  • Hire a coach to help guide you through this process!


Do you have lingering knee, back, or shoulder pain? Does your pain tend to "flare up" a few times a year? Do you fear hurting your _______ again? Does this fear prevent you from living life fully, and training without limitations? I have good news for you, you don't need

to live in fear of pain any longer!

The solution? Bulletproof your body by fixing your foundational movement patterns and building strength within those movement patterns! Build resilience, lift heavy weight, and live your life without pain or worry.

Here at Ground to Overhead Physical Therapy, we help athletes all over the country resolve their chronic-recurring pain. We do this with in person appointments for athletes local to our clinic. Remotely, we help athlete through individualized training programs designed to resolve the athletes pain and achieve their goals. We coach the athletes through electronic communication, video analysis, and video calls; guiding them step by step along the process of eliminating their chronic-recurring pain.

Questions about the content within this post?

Interested in how you could eliminate your pain and improve your performance?

Contact me by clicking here!


I'll be happy to help!

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