Tip: Recovering? Reset your PR's

Getting back into the gym after being injured? Here's how you need to think about personal records.

Are you a banged-up lifter? Maybe just getting back into things or recovering from an injury? Here's some advice from someone who's been there.

If you're still trying to match your double bodyweight, wobbly-legged PR squat that you hit back when you were 24, it's time to put that goal to bed and train smart. You've been injured. You can't move right. Your range of motion sucks. Your joints may hurt.

Place PR's on the backburner and focus instead on hard work, the training effect, and steering clear of re-injury. Use a smarter lifting tempo – slow down the negative component of your reps. Not only will that improve your eccentric strength, it'll also make an honest lifter out of you.

Most PR's take a big hit when you have to control the lowering phase for 4 seconds and pause before lifting. If you used to squat 405, but can only squat 275 with that tempo, guess what your new PR is? That's right, 275.

Here's an example of me doing a narrow-stance squat with a controlled negative and a pause at the bottom:

You may also have to come to terms with the fact that you're force feeding a movement or pattern that your body no longer agrees with, or never agreed with in the first place. Things like barbell deadlifts, low-bar squats, power cleans from the floor, and barbell bench presses can easily be replaced with trap bar deadlifts, high-bar squats, hang power cleans, and football bar or dumbbell bench presses.

You're not any less of a lifter just because you're not including powerlifting moves exactly as they're seen in contests. Oh, and for the record, powerlifters are often broken too.