Article last updated: March 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
During your transformation there’s a big chance that you will encounter numerous minor injuries.
When I say minor injury, it’s usually something that’s a 5/10 on the pain scale or less.
The problem is that when people get a minor injury, they make one of two big mistakes:
- Push through the minor injury and make it into a big one. This turns the injury into a big injury that puts you out of training for months instead of weeks.
- Take a few weeks off training, lose motivation because of temporary muscle loss, then never get back into hard training again.
I emphasize temporary muscle loss because your body has a mechanism called muscle memory.
This means that once you gain muscle mass, your body can regain it very easily.
For example, let’s assume you train hard for 5 years and gain 40 pounds of muscle mass, then take 2 years off training and lose 30 pounds of it.
After you resume training, you will likely regain those 30 lost pounds of muscle mass within a time period of 3-6 months.
In other words, it will take you 10-20 times less time to regain lost muscle mass and you can do it while losing body-fat too.
This is why you sometimes see guys in their 30s and 40s at the gym who seem to make steroid-like gains in a time-period of 3-6 months.
In many cases, they’re simply regaining lost muscle mass from their youth.
So how does this translate to you?
If you’ve been training consistently for let’s say 3 months and you take 4 weeks off to heal a minor injury, then you will at most lose a small amount of muscle mass and you will be able to regain that muscle mass within a few weeks of getting back into hard training.
This is why I always tell my clients if they experience any kind of pain during an exercise, it’s best to play it safe which means to completely stop the exercise and all other exercises which aggravate the pain until the injury is fully healed.
If it’s a minor injury, you can usually heal it within 2-4 weeks as long as you don’t push through it.
While waiting for the injury to heal, you can work on all other exercises in your program and add in exercises that strengthen and stretch out your weak points that caused the injury in your first place.
For example, if you feel elbow pain on chin ups, it’s most likely because you have weak forearms, biceps and rounded shoulders which put your elbow in a bad position.
In this case you can include isolation exercises for the forearms, biceps and rear shoulders while stretching out the elbows.
This will speed up the recovery process and also set you up to prevent injuries when you resume the chin ups.
The bottom line is that you should see the minor injuries as opportunities to take time off certain exercises and work on your weak points so you can return as a stronger version of yourself.
In addition, you need to keep in mind that the muscle loss you will experience will be minimal.
When you take time off training a muscle group, you initially experience a loss of muscle fullness (think of losing 1/2 to 1 inch on that muscle).
This can quickly be regained as soon as you start doing those exercises again.
In addition to losing some muscle fullness, you start losing lean muscle tissue.
This usually starts happening after 2 weeks of not doing the exercise.
So overall, by taking 2-4 weeks off (or more if it’s needed) is not a big deal at all from a gains perspective.
You will end up regaining those losses in a minimal amount of time and return as a much stronger version of yourself.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer