View Full Version : Fear as a training aid

12-05-2008, 01:52 PM
I’ve heard and read other comments and articles over the years about using fear as a motivator in you training, so I’m not claiming any original concepts here, but only offering a personal example of how a bit of fear actually turned into an effective training tool.

I’d been fighting severe elbow pain for several months, especially during extension work, which had been originally diagnosed as triceps tendonitis. Nothing new to a lot of you, I’m sure. Well none of the usual treatments or work-arounds was giving me much relief and my bench lockout was really starting to regress. My chiro/muscle therapist and I decided that maybe it was time to get some better info, so prior to ordering an MRI, he took a couple of X-ray shots of my elbow a couple of days ago.

Later that day the call came in… “STOP LIFTING NOW AND GET THE MRI ASAP!”. Now this is a doc that understands lifters and their mentality so I knew he didn’t make that statement lightly. The reason? Apparently my elbow pain is actually be caused by an avulsion fracture to the humerus bone just above the elbow (MRI next week will confirm). Of course he then had to explain to me that an avulsion fracture is where the tendon actually tears a sliver of bone away from the main bone.

So after he then detailed some of the rather nasty consequences of just ignoring the condition and bulling ahead in spite of the pain, I took the next logical step (short of getting a new doctor..LOL). I began picking away at directions… “Do I have to stop all lifting or just extensions? How about DL’s and such?” etc. The results of the negotiations were that straight DLs were unlikely to exacerbate the condition and CAREFULLY executed rows and pull-down might be tolerated.

After running the gauntlet of emotional responses…Pissed, depressed, to a bit spooked by the whole thing, I made it to the gym late last night for DL accessory routine. I forced myself to go my saying no excuse not to at least get in the ab and leg work. I did work up the nerve to try a few pull downs. Here’s where the fear came into play.

I’m 50 years old so the potential of losing an unknown number of months out of my bench routine looms pretty big to me. But the idea of things like bone infections and bone surgery downright scare the **** out of me when I stop to think about them because they could be “career” enders at this point. So as I started my first set of lat pull-downs I the fear of overstressing my upper arms made me use near perfect form…pulling from the back and not with the arms. I quickly realized too things. One: I could pull as heavy as usual with zero pain in my elbow/tri. Two: By being afraid to break form, I was getting a much more intense back workout for the same set/rep scheme as before.

End result was that I was able to get through my entire DL accessory workout. Every set. Every rep. If you knew the guys I train with, that’s an accomplishment on any day..LOL. Might not seem like much overall, but it really pulled my out of my funk and gave me a new perspective on the weeks to come.

I still won’t know till sometime next week the real extent of the damage or duration of rehab, but I do know that nothing, not even fear, can put an end to my training.

Till they pry my cold dead fingers from the bar…
Good Training and Best to all,
Robert Harris
Las Vegas, NV

12-05-2008, 02:19 PM
It's probably not the smartest thing in the world to do, but I was still squatting with a straight bar when my left arm was in a cast so I can't talk. The pain and injuries that some people train through or around is pretty crazy, but it's what we love to do.

12-05-2008, 02:28 PM
I had a similar injury from an accident with my acl pulling a piece of my tibia away. I was told to get surgery and I owuld only have 75% use of my knee, after letting it heal on its own confirming the placement of the fractured bone and slowly working back into lifts I have full use of my knee and no problems. I was definitely scared to destroy it but I worked very hard on my workouts and it paid off so it is definitely true!

12-05-2008, 03:17 PM
Cool. Whatever works.