It’s Not the Effects of Your Training in Years 1-5, It’s the Effects of Your Training in Years 1-5 in Year 10

By Tucker Loken

I was talking with my fellow PRS Teammate Paul Oneid the other day, and we both reminisced on the stupid things we did when we were starting weightlifting and how we suffered for it later in our career. We were both trying to describe the same idea, just in different ways and then carved it into a catchy phrase – “It’s not the effects of your training in years 1-5, it’s the effects of your training in years 1-5 in year 10 when you’re finally gaining momentum.”

For most people, it takes up to five years to see your body start to morph and change in a meaningful way from weight training. I’m not just talking about getting lean or putting on some muscle. I’m talking about building a real physique or starting to push some legit weight. Some people refer to this development as “muscle-maturity.” It could take another five years beyond that to go from making those initial changes to being able to call yourself an expert, or at least a serious competitor at the craft. The last thing you want to have happened to you at that point is to have to take time off because, even though now you know better, the stress you put on your body is finally catching up to you, and all the wear and tear is starting to show. This stress is also known as cumulative stress.

This info can be useful to you whether you’re in years 1-5, in years 5-10, or beyond. If you’re in years 1-5, it’s time to start taking care of yourself and find a way to avoid giving yourself any of the injuries you hear so much of from veterans. If you’re in years 5-10 and after, if you haven’t had any injuries yet, consider yourself lucky. If you have, pay attention to the following and find a way to heal yourself up and stay healthy long term, so you can keep smashing the weights.

#1 – Protecting your joints is number one.  Start wearing elbow sleeves and knee sleeves when the loads get heavy.  There is nothing worse than achy, creaky joints, and knowing that you’ve done that to yourself.  Check out Inzer Advanced Designs’ elbow and knee sleeves.

#2 – Pay attention when little things begin to hurt frequently. When you start squatting pretty heavy for several weeks in a row, and one hip hurts back off. Then, per usual, when you take some time off and hit some lighter squats, it goes away. But then once again, after a couple of weeks of squatting heavy, it bugs you again – please make sure to address this immediately. Like the hip, if you start getting shoulder pain from any pressing exercises after a while, it’s your body telling you something is off. Your shoulder is not going to get better magically.

#3 – Do something about these issues. Be proactive, not reactive. Do some research and find a professional who deals with sports massages, chiropractic work, rehab, etc. If you can find someone or two people that can help you deal with problematic tissues, and they help put you back on the right track, you’ve got it made. Along with that, see a qualified physical therapist that deals with athletes. Not someone who will tell you to stop what you’re doing because it’s dangerous, or it hurts, but someone who wants to get you back to kicking ass and knows how to help.

That might sound daunting to have to find three people of different professions who can help you, but usually, one person will cover at least two of these. I used to have a chiro who did all sorts of ART and other tissue work and then went to another guy who helped me with some PT exercises. Now that I’ve moved, I’ve found a chiro who does PT work and have a deep tissue professional. It may seem a little steep to have to cough up that much cash to see all these people, but if something is starting, it’ll usually only take a few sessions with someone qualified to target what’s going on and give you the advice to make it better.

#4 – Do your homework. You can foam roll the places your deep tissue person works on, and you can do all the PT exercises at home. After you see them a few times, keeping up a relationship with them and going once every 4-6 weeks to make sure you’re still healthy is doable for most, financially. There are plenty worse ways to spend your money.

#5 – This is all assuming your training is intelligent, and these are just little things that come up from lifting heavy ass weight and pushing the biological limits. What if your training sucks, you push way too hard and heavy with terrible form and never take a break? Invest in finding help – read, find coaches, train smart, and take time off. Buy 10/20/Life, get one of us to help you/ask lots of questions on the Q&A section (Advice). Be sure to deload, or take time fully off before you’re forced to.  Make sure you’re taking care of your core and putting the time in before each workout to ensure that area is stable and has adequate endurance. Taking care of your trunk alone with help mitigate a lot of the issues.

If you’re over the 5-year hump, and stuff is hurting more regularly and even taken you out of training for a while to rest and heal up, you have to follow the same steps, and then some. If you don’t have a soft tissue professional you regularly see already, get one ASAP – even before stuff starts hurting. I’m almost sure you’ve had something bother you along the way at some point. And if you haven’t been to a PT  (or another specialist) by now, find one! For Pete’s sake, at least establish a relationship so you can discuss what you’re up to, what hurts (or has hurt), and why! Have them run you through some exercises to diagnose your imbalances.  It becomes essential that you have something to work on besides just a general core routine for prehab.

If you haven’t had any professional coaching yet, consider some. Coaching is an excellent investment with your money because from the coach/trainers perspective, you’re not a newbie who will grow from any copy and paste routine and if they invest some time in you, you’ll be able to make massive changes. You make their job easy by already being knowledgeable and dedicated, and they help you take your training and knowledge to another level and keep you accountable. It’s a win/win.

Finally, if none of that other stuff motivated you, try to see the big picture of where you’re trying to go. Are you trying to take this seriously and make something of yourself in the iron arena? What if in the next couple years, as you get stronger and larger, you haven’t addressed these issues? All of a sudden, they’ll stop you dead in your tracks, and you’re not able to accomplish your goals! Maybe they are just some little bumps in the road, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal to take some time off here and there. But eventually, it turns into more extended frequent breaks, or what if it becomes a catastrophic injury and it takes surgery and a full six months to a year before you can do any training? There are some pretty scary scenarios waiting in front of you if you don’t take care of yourself now. If you look around and do some research on the pros, whether they are bodybuilders, powerlifters, CrossFitters or strongmen, they’ve all had injuries. You want to ensure that you do the most you can do so that when these things come up, you can take care of them immediately and continue on your way in a fraction of the time it would require if you didn’t do anything about it.

Don’t let the silly things you did in years 1-5 ruin your pace to a successful year 10 and the kind of success that can be waiting for you when you get there!


Suffering from back pain? It’s not a life sentence! Learn how to become pain-free using Dr. Stu McGill and Brian Carroll’s proven methods. Pick up a copy of Gift of Injury now!

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Tucker Loken is a Bodybuilder turned Powerlifter turned Powerbuilder from Eugene, Oregon. He did his first bodybuilding show when he was still in high school, and has been training male and female competitors for shows since 2011. Several years ago he decided to take a step away from his normal routine and learn how to get strong. He worked with Brian for 9 months, added 200 pounds to his raw total and qualified as an Elite lifter in the 220 pound weight class. He returned back to bodybuilding much stronger and now incorporates the 10/20/Life philosophy into his training to keep himself healthy and making continual progress in the Big 3 as well as adding size and shaping his physique. Now part of Team PRS, he brings his unique expertise of nutritional knowledge and how to balance Bodybuilding with Powerlifting to help athletes achieve their best potential.
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