Lifting to train vs rehab lifting – Is there a difference?


I am going to try write more quick entries because I have a long list of long articles on the back burner... And people keep asking when I am going to write more.

So today's post is about when I told a patient we are going to go lift now...during his initial assessment.
He came in with knee pain that had been getting worse over 3 years. I had already identified the problem and got rid of his pain with air squats and a few other moves that were provocative for the pain.

But, in my experience, nothing matters if you still can't lift, right?

So I said "let's go lift some weight now" and he was visibly excited (as any good Crossfit athlete does!) but then he said "Oh, rehab lifting" he thought I meant I was going to get him to squat with 2kg dumbbells or something! goal is to get you back to pain free lifting. Let's go lift! You know...squat!

We got 80% of his 1RM back squat before his form started to waver but it was pain free...after 3 years! He was happy. I didn't push past that point because he needed to get that weight level right with the technique tweaks I have him. That is his current max for today.

So is there a difference between rehab lifting and training? I don't think so. There are rehab exercises for sure - accessory exercises to help develop an area that is falling behind or preventing progression.

But when you are training, you should have good form 95% of the time. Those 5% is when you know have maxed out. I like the Bulgarian concept of "every day is max day". Some days, you are trying to hit a % for reps but you might be having a bad day, it isn't all there on day...or you feel awesome today and can go heavier. Each training session, I lift and I try to go as heavy as I can until my form breaks down.

So when I say "let's go lift" in an assessment, I really mean it. Let's get you focused on how you lift during your problem movement because that will tell me how to fix you 🙂

What do you see is the difference between rehab and training? Write a comment below and tell me what you think...

2 Responses

  1. Cameron Dyer

    Hey mate, nice article. I agree that the gym is a laboratory and every movement should serve as an assessment. Sometimes the feedback is immediate and obvious i.e. you make the lift or you don’t, and sometimes the feedback is more subtle!

    I still have to jump on one of your courses! This is a must in the near future!

    1. Hey cam. Thanks for that.

      Yep the exercise are important but if people don’t see the benefit immediately, perhaps the load is too great?

      For this patient, I started with air squats, got rid of the pain and then progressively loaded with the cueing strategy that was right for him until his form broke down…and by that, I mean a small deviation from optimal, something which most people would let slide. He got to 80% of his 1RM for 3. That is pretty good 😉

      I am in Canberra this weekend. Come down. All about shoulders. Not sure when I will be in Sydney again.

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