“I want to do squats but they hurt my back.” “Every time I do bench press, it hurts my shoulders.”

Do you ever get sore somewhere that you weren’t really training the day before? Maybe your back has more delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than your legs after a leg workout.

Or your neck aches after doing upper body exercises.

Or, maybe something hurts during an exercise that you aren’t really training?

If so, you’re not alone.

In fact, one of the most common excuses people have for not strength training is that it causes pain in areas it shouldn’t cause pain.

Though there are cases where people have structural dysfunction, or perhaps a past injury causes significant problems, in most cases, there is…

  • nothing wrong with their body
  • nothing wrong with the exercise
  • something wrong with their technique

The purpose of an exercise is to train the muscles involved the movement.

That might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s often overlooked.

For example, if you’re supposed to do 8 reps of squats, your legs (quads, glutes, and hamstrings) are the main movers in that exercise. If your back starts to get sore or tired first, your back is doing more of the work than your legs.

When I was young, I only cared about the weight on the bar and the reps I could complete. I thought that as long as I used more and more weight, and got the set done, my body would adapt and make me stronger, no matter how ugly my technique was.

Today, I care more about longevity, health, and fitness. Those are the same objectives I have for VIGOR Training. Athletic performance only matters as long as you’re fit and healthy.

When you train legs, train your legs as hard as possible without sacrificing form and putting stress on your back.

When you train your back, keep the focus on your lats, traps, rhomboids, etc., and not on your biceps and forearms.

When you train chest, keep the focus on your pecs and not on your shoulders and triceps.

Part of the process of improving with strength training is to improve your mind-muscle connection. Make sure you’re working what you’re supposed to be working, and not what you shouldn’t be. That will resolve at least 75% of the aches and pains people experience when strength training.

Of course, improving your mind-muscle connection will also make your working muscles more sore the next day. But as you know, we learn through pain and suffering.

If after training, you’re sore where you shouldn’t be, and you’re not sore where you should be, then your technique is probably the problem, not the exercise.

VIGOR Training Members, if you’re wondering about your technique on a movement, or you’re getting sore in places you don’t think you should be, post a video in the Facebook group and I’ll give you some guidance on how to improve.

Pathemata mathemata!

Coach’s Notes is a collection of insights, recommendations, and tutorials to help my VIGOR Training member-athletes get more out of the program. Though non-members may find the content to be informative and applicable, I’ve written them as though I’m speaking directly to one of my athletes.