Updated: Nov 13, 2019
6 top tips :
Prioritize the weak areas.
Work at the right intensity to optimize results.
Its a brain game, need to feel what you are doing with the movemnets and muscles you are using.
Sometimes you can push through pain , sometimes you need to work around it.
Don't forget the pump, it may have important effect on your training.
Rest between sessions and sets is just as important as doing the exercises.
So you've gone to physio and finally have the answers to why you have various aches and pains. Then much to your probable disgust you get homework to help fix the problem !
Luckily for you Arnie may hold the keys to successful rehab. Especially in the early to mid stages of injury.
Here are some of the 6 best lessons that we can apply from the man himself;
#1 Prioritize the weak areas.
This sounds like common sense but the focus of your session or rehab should be around the movements and the body parts that are most affected .
This can be as simple as :
After warming up it may be that these exercises come first in the program.
They form a major part of the whole session, add more volume.
However in the early days proritising may refer more to protecting the area so we can get it to a stage where we can load it. So it may be that we have to train around an injury to maintain our strength and fitness and to prepare ourselves for the next phase of rehab.
#2 How much weight should i use ?
When it comes to rehab especially in the earlier phases the magic starts to happen at about 70% of our best effort.
This seems to be the zone that has the greatest influence on building muscle and tendon and also when we start to access our very own powerful , internal pain killing chemicals. The pharmacy in your body so to speak.
An easy and safe way to operate in this area is use the OMNI resistance scale, and work at 7 out of 10 effort.
Take 1- 2 weeks to work up to this level, once there you should be able to increase the resistance every 7-14 days. This allows you to keep moving forwards.
Its also a very good idea for every 4th session to work at 5-6 out of 10. Especially if you are doing long term rehab.
We all our our favourite rep and set schemes, to keep things interesting and to also train certain characteristics. During the early stages of rehab the following is a good guide especially if you have no background in exercise or are in the earlier stages of rehab.;
at 7/10 effort or 70% 1 rep max.
This is a good starting point, simple & effective , and what we should be aiming to achieve by late early to mid stage rehab.
#3 It's a Brain Game. The mind muscle connection
"It ain't (also) what you do its the way that you do it and thats what get results" Bananarama 1980's.
Arnie was always big on the mind body muscle connection,. My take away from this is we often see people "immitate" the exercise we want them to do, but not executing it in the way it needs to be done. Immitation is the worst form of flattery.
Top tip for this is you want to feel the exercise and work hard at concentrating on simple cues to get the technique right.
The most common fault i see is in any form of single leg squat or step up. Frequently people will use their hamstrings to snap the knee back into extension instead of "pushing their foot throught the floor" to maximize their quads involvement.
Exercise tempo: The need for less speed.
To help with this the speed of the exercise is also crucial in the early stages.
In the earlier stages a tempo of 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down is ideal. With tendon problems your therapist may slow the lowering phase to as much as 5 seconds down.
setting the pace of your exercises to the speed of a metronome will keep you honest with this. (plenty of metronome apps to download).
As we progress we need to look at what the demands you will be putting your body through or sports you are training for. Then we can get a bit more specific.
#4 Should i push through the pain?
Certainly in the early days its best to train around the injury to let it settle and keep you motivated. It also has a bonus of creating the best enviroment for the tissue to repair.
In some circumstances the aim of your exercises should not be to reproduce YOUR pain that you have sought treatment for. Certainly true for the acute phase.
However later in the process it can be acceptable, and even desirable, to give your symptoms a bit of a nudge.
As a rule of thumb this should not last longer than 30-40 minutes and be no greater than 4 out 10 on a pain scale. This seems to be especially true of tendon related injuries and can apply to other issues such as low back and neck pain.
Your physiotherapist should discuss what is acceptable wioth regards to your situation.
#5 Don't forget the pump !
Ah the classic pumping iron phrase, but it has a very relevant role and is what occurs in a form of training known as blood flow restriction training , (BFR).
The idea being that if you train the muscle to absolute fatigue you get an increase in the bodys natural growth factors which are essential in growth and repair.
Especially useful when using single joint exercises such as leg extensions or the addition of a high intensity cardio session at the end of your rehab.
For added "fun" we can use blood flow restriction training to accentuate the effect.
#6 What about rest and exercise?
The most neglected element and one of the most important. Think of exercise as a trigger for the repair and growth of the tissue. Rest is the time when the tissue does the actual repairing and growing.
As a guide rest between sets is recommend at between 90-60 seconds.
From a daily perspective i recommend either 2 days on / 1 day off or 4 days a week with a day off between each session.
Straight forward guidelines to maximise results.
These tips will help you get the most out of your exercise program. Especially in the early phase of treatment. As you progress there are other tricks of the trade that will come into play to progress you further.
Just follow Arnie's advice :
ref 1.: Fundamentals of Resistance Training:Progression and Exercise Prescription Kraemer, 2004