4 Workout Tips to Prevent Injuring an Injury-Prone Muscle Group


I’m not a physical therapist, so I’m not comfortable giving advice on treating injuries.

I can, however, recommend a few ways to minimize injury risk.

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The common advice is to lighten up the weight quite a bit when targeting an injury-prone part of your body.

That’s decent advice…

…but if you lift a weight explosively it can be just as risky, if not more risky, than lifting a heavier weight at a slow pace.

A surprising number of injuries happen when the weight is light.

lifting light weights injury

Joint injuries or muscle strains tend to happen during the Stretch Shortening Cycle of a lift.

Think of this as the point in a lift where you reverse the direction of the bar.

Like the point when the bar touches your chest in a bench press and you quickly go from lowering the bar to pressing it back up to lockout.

If you time a bench press properly and push at the right point, you can use the elastic energy created at the bottom of a lift to give you greater pushing power.

This same thing happens at the bottom of a squat.

A better example is probably the vertical leap.

(The highest recorded vertical leap in the NBA is Michael Jordan at 46″, but some people believe Wilt Chamberlain had a 48″ inch vertical leap.)

To jump high, you squat down a little bit and create a pre-stretch and instinctively jump with the additional force the pre-stretch provides.

You wouldn’t be able to jump as high if you paused for 2 seconds at the bottom of the squat.

This explosive type of lifting isn’t necessarily dangerous.

  • If you don’t have knee issues you are probably fine to use this while squatting.
  • If you don’t have shoulder issues, it is probably safe to take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle at the bottom portion of a bench press.

The issue is when people have past injuries.

When working a muscle group that is prone to injuries, I recommend purposely avoiding explosive lifting.

You will have to use lighter weights.

Here are a few tips…

Injury Prevention Tip 1: Pause at the Bottom of a Lift

pause at bottom of squat

When you pause at the bottom of a squat or bench press, you take the stretch shortening cycle out of the equation.

This allows you to work the muscles with less stress on your ligaments and joints.

When doing the bench press, for instance, use lighter weight and pause for about a 1 second as soon as the bar touches your chest.

Make sure you stay tight at the bottom.

Injury Prevention Tip 2: Choose Exercises That Eliminate the Stretch Shortening Cycle

Shirtless man deadlifting

If someone has had a knee injury in the past, I would recommend deadlifts instead of squats.

With a squat you are reversing the movement right at the point where knee joint is bent substantially… Deadlifts don’t rely on a stretch as much as squats.

You start the lift from a dead stop and aren’t doing a typical stretch shortening cycle pre-stretch like you tend to do in a squat.

The key with deadlifts is to make sure you let the weights hit the floor and perform each rep from a dead stop.

An exercise like a machine chest press is started from the bottom position.

Chest press workout - Beautiful smiling young woman exercising in gym

The key here is to let the weight stack touch between each and every rep.

Don’t slam the weight stack like a dork.

Let the weight stack touch, wait about a second in between each rep.

Then perform the next rep.

Injury Prevention Tip 3: Perform Partial Reps

partial reps incline press

I slightly tweaked my shoulder doing incline barbell presses about 12 years ago.

When I do this lift today, I only lower the bar until it is about 6 inches from touching my upper chest.

What is interesting is that I have to use lighter weight with these partial reps.

You would think that since the bar is traveling a shorter distance so I would be able to go heavier.

This isn’t the case.

Injury Prevention Tip 4: Pre-Exhaust With Isolation Exercises before Compound Movements

triceps extensions

I have a friend who hurt his right shoulder doing weighted dips quite a few years ago.

Now what he likes to do is several sets of triceps cable extensions to fatigue his triceps before doing dips.

After this, he does slow and controlled body-weight only dips.

The triceps wind up getting worked just as hard, but less injury potential to his shoulder.

Hope these tips help.

Note: Both Visual impact Muscle Building and Visual Impact for Women focus mainly on slow and controlled lifting.

When done properly this minimizes your risk of injury.

That being said…

If you are still interested in training explosively?

I cover a safer approach to explosive lifting in Visual Impact Frequency Training.

It involves mixing in slow “irradiation style” lifting along with the explosive lifts.

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For 15 years I've helped fashion models get lean for photoshoots. Use my plan to Lose 5-10 pounds of PURE body fat in 14 days.

Works well.


-Rusty Moore

As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.

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