[Weekly Review] December 8-14, 2014: Train Around Pain & 6 PRs

December 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Train Around Pain

Even though I am Asian, I am not a doctor.


So, I can’t make a qualified self-diagnosis about any sort of injuries or pain experienced as a result of lifting weights, and I can’t self-prescribe miracle drugs to deal with pain (among other things). However, I am clever enough to figure out ways to continue training even after experiencing minor setbacks.

After low bar squatting last Sunday, I managed to strain something in my left hip. This made it quite painful to do anything where I had to push my knees out, namely a squat with a moderate to wide stance.

Also, after overhead pressing on Wednesday, I experienced unusually sharp pain in my left elbow. It was similar to golfer’s elbow that I sometimes experience, but much more pronounced.

The solution to continue training was this: perform exercises that don’t aggravate the injury and/or modify existing exercises.

For the hip pain issue, I simple performed a squat variation that uses a narrower stance: front squat.

As long as I kept my stance a little narrow, my left hip was fine. I even hit a 1RM on a paused front squat!

Somehow I widened up my stance on a paused front squat attempt at 475 lb, and the pain shut me down and contributed to me missing the lift.

With my left elbow, any valgus force would produce pain.

Valgus Elbow Pain

This would produce pain, along with holding the bar during low bar squats and even high bar squats.

So what I did was attach straps onto the bar during high bar squats, and squatted with them during my warm up and back off set. I squatted normally during my PR set though, mainly because I was worried the bar could slide off my traps while I was straining under the bar.

Holding onto straps during high bar squats is like a poor-man’s safety squat bar, allowing me to comfortably keep my hands in front of my body, reducing stress on my elbows. Interesting, this position allows me to pull my elbows back and squeeze my lats during the squat in a way that’s not possible by holding onto a bar on top of my traps. Similar squeezing your lats during a horizontal seated row. Something like this:

Anyways, personal records from last week:

6 Personal Records

Reverse Grip Bench Press: 320 lb x 8 (8RM)

Wanted a 390 lb x 2 paused RGBP, but only got 1 because of back slipping on the bench.

Also wanted anywhere from 8–10 reps at 320 lb. Only did 8, because I’m pretty sure I’d miss the 9th rep. Still a +5 lb PR. GOOD ENOUGH.

Paused Front Squat: 460 lb x 1 (1RM) & Front Squat (No Belt): 405 lb x 2 (2RM)

Left hip is still bothering me so I needed to do a squat variation where I don’t have to spread my legs so wide. 460 lb is a +5 lb PR. Felt super easy. So easy I that I was thinking about going for 465 lb. Then I figured I might as well put on a double digit number on the bar and go for 470 lb. THEN I thought, why not just go 475 lb for the bar aesthetics?! Hips didn’t like that idea though lol.

Finished off with a LMAO4PLATE beltless front squat for a double. With special guest appearance by King Kai.

Overhead Press: 240 lb x 5 (5RM)

Took a couple of cracks at a 300 lb OHP before this. No go. Need to get angrier, I think.

Also, it’s easier to apply chalk to my shirt with a block of chalk (I just have to draw it on) instead of grabbing a handful of powdered chalk and getting it everywhere

Beltless Paused High Bar Squat: 500 lb x 2 (2RM) & 410 lb x 5 (5RM)

Left elbows felt messed up. Must have messed it up somehow.

Used straps for squatting (ghetto un-safety squat bar™) for my warm up. Didn’t use straps for 500 lb x 2 (+15 lb PR) because I was scared the bar might slip off my traps. Strapped on straps again for 410 lb x 5, which is one of those “fill-in-an-empty-box-in-my-PR-table” PR.

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011