Darren Schlechter

Train what’s trainable


What does that mean? Well, if you’ve frequented the weight room or competed in physical sports, you’ve most likely found yourself with a ding, scrape, tweak, or even worse… a major injury! Unfortunately,it happens to us all, and that’s what makes good trainers great, and separates great trainers from the majority of average, clipboard holding, rep counting, steak head trainers out there.

For those of you that don’t know, I had reconstructive shoulder surgery in November 2009 after a snowboard incident involving newbie crashing into me. I have since recovered completely and, in fact, have been setting PR’s in the gym over the last few months (with the help of the TWT philosophy). And, like the majority of competitive lifters, I’ve also dealt with the occasional ding or tweak.

I recently had a new client of mine (who was 3 months out from his 2nd major shoulder surgery) tell me this: “Instead of a 22 year old trainer with a six pack, no injury history, and little experience… I’d rather have a knowledgeable and experienced trainer in his/her 30’s (or older) who is still in great shape, and has over come a major injury to continue to stay in great shape.” All he needed to include was ‘handsome’ and he had me dead to rites! (ha ha… Thanks Vince)

Training what is trainable is a simple concept that I learned about from reading lots of Dave Tate articles. (If you don’t know who Mr. Tate is, choke yourself for a minute, release your grip before you pass out, catch your breath, then google his name, and start reading!)

“Training whats trainable” is about recognizing that you have some type of injury that needs time to heal, finding exercises that you are physically able to perform, without reinjuring your existing condition, making a list of those exercises, then composing uncomplicated routines that will allow those exercises to improve, either in strength or range of motion. Also, setting a realistic timeline of how long you will do this routine (about 1 month seems to work well), and challenging yourself to improve in those few weeks are important parts of this. The list can be as simple as passive grip work if you are having shoulder issues, or balancing exercises if you have ankle or knee issues. Its not rocket science, if an exercise hurts, it doesn’t go on the list (don’t be a toughguy!) If it doesn’t hurt, put it on the list.

The exercises shouldn’t be limited to the body part that is injured. If you are have an arm injury, take the opportunity to focus on making some massive strength gains in your legs or glutes, maybe increases in range of motion or mobility, or even up your cardio intervals. Countless studies have proven that the proper weight training stressors will cause the body to release plenty of endorphans and hormones to aid in recovering and repairing the body, even parts of the body that aren’t being trained. (Its even known to improve mood and relieve headaches). So ditch the kickbacks and concentration curls and move some real iron. “Time under tension” exercises like RKC planks, farmer walks, bodyweight hangs, figertip planks, turkish getups, and isometric hip bridges work well too. You should set challenging training goals for time, THATS an easy way to track progress. Keep it simple, but not easy!