Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

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emil3m
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Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:14 pm

My program is largely squat, DL, press, bench, chin, row (all 5x5). I finish with one superset for delts and one for arms (both for hypertrophy). For arms, I'm doing heavy weighted dips followed by curls.

Recently, the elbow started tingling in the mornings. Today it was more pronounced. After some reading, I found that the creator of StronLifts is categorically against adding any accessory work for arms. That's a bit extreme, no?
For example, adding properly performed curls took care of my long standing brachioradialis pain--I can only guess that my biceps were not keeping up with the main lifts. I stopped doing all types of tricep extension a while ago and stuck to dips only.

Volume
I'm guessing this problem is my fault, because 3 arm supersets per week was a stupid idea.
How about no supersets for arms at all. Only 3x10 curls at the end of Mon & Fri and 3x10 dips at the end of Wed?

Intensity
For hypertrophy, do I need to go heavy weighted on dips? Right now I've been doing 3x8 with 35lb. Is 3x15 @ BW better?
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:31 pm

how long have you been doing the arm supersets as you are now?


Maybe we should find the source of the tingling before opining on a differnt protocol

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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:44 pm

Oscar_Actuary wrote:how long have you been doing the arm supersets as you are now?


Maybe we should find the source of the tingling before opining on a differnt protocol
I've been doing them 3 times a week since January. Back then I was only doing body weight and started curls pretty light (15lb). I was tending to my bicep problem which did not go away after a 3 months of complete rest, but did go away with training and micro-loading (hope I'm using this term correctly).

Body weight dips became easy, so I got a belt. Foolishly, I was progressing much faster than I was with the curls.

I have read quite a bit and all arrows point to elbow tendonitis. I may have gotten lucky as I don't feel the pain during bench/press (not yet). However, even during BW dips my elbow is telling me something, so I skipped them altogether today.

So how about it with respect to my weekly volume and intensity adjustment for hypertrophy? I feel I'm getting enough strength done with the main lifts, so the vanity work is my dessert..
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by ephs » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:03 am

my guess is that you fv(k your elbow up cause of a bad form at triceps extentions. i would decrease volume and intensity at every exercise that hurts for a few weeks and keep on increasing the volume and intensity step by step then or consult a doctor.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by robertscott » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:03 am

dips are murder on my elbows. You could consider switching to pulldowns or something a bit easier

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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:51 am

ephs wrote:my guess is that you fv(k your elbow up cause of a bad form at triceps extentions.
I haven't done any extensions in years.. strange
robertscott wrote:dips are murder on my elbows. You could consider switching to pulldowns or something a bit easier
I only have a cage, bench, BB, and DBs.

So how many times a week I should work biceps and triceps at the end of my full-body 5x5 program?
I came up with biceps twice a week (M/F) and triceps once (W) to save the elbow. That's a big step down from 3 and 3.

Will there be increases in size if I go light enough to finish 3x15?
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:01 am

StrongLifts guy is adamant that no accessory work should be done because doing heavy 5x5 across three times a week hardly leaves any room for recovery as is.

Also, I read (can't find the article) that heavy low bar back squats impact the elbow quite heavily. I'm doing those twice a week.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by Dub » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:38 am

Low bar squats are killing your elbows only if you are letting the force and weight solely on your arms. Don't go too low, and keep using the spine as the main carrier here. If there's still pain, move the bar higher. When you don't know for sure, you are guessing. And when you are guessing, you have to test and retest a lot. Take something out, did it help? If not, take something else out. A simple process of elimination.

I have no idea what's bugging your elbow, I don't know enough. But I'm guessing there is too much stress on the joint and it causes inflammation and soreness.

My favourite exercises for triceps are definitely the push-up and close grip bench press. These are not purely tricep, so they won't most likely destroy your elbows. But they give you a bang for your buck any day. Especially longer sets of the push-ups.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:04 am

Dub wrote:Especially longer sets of the push-ups.
Does this bit ^^^ mean I should go with body weight and just go nuts on volume? Like 45 reps or more? Same Q for DB work: light enough to do 3x15 or even x20? I'm only interested in size. Once a week will do?
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by Dub » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:18 am

emil3m wrote:
Dub wrote:Especially longer sets of the push-ups.
Does this bit ^^^ mean I should go with body weight and just go nuts on volume? Like 45 reps or more? Same Q for DB work: light enough to do 3x15 or even x20? I'm only interested in size. Once a week will do?
Depends. You can get along with lower reps as well by varying the difficulty of the exercise, but for size, I'd recommend you to use various rep ranges. All of them have their mark on hyperthrophy. From high volume, low intensity to low volume high intensity. You can always add difficulty to your push-ups by adding a decline (put your legs higher). Bodyweight high-volume work is awesome to get some pump on your chest and triceps. I can list some of my favourite push-up work here:

These are extremely high in volume, but they are awesome in killing your triceps:
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ation_plan" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (The horrible hundred push-ups, altough I do a modified version.)
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ushup_test" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.flexonline.com/training/chest-blaster" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (Less high in volume, but still great.)
http://nicktumminello.com/2012/06/top-2 ... ariations/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by robertscott » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:26 am

robertscott wrote:dips are murder on my elbows. You could consider switching to pulldowns or something a bit easier
I only have a cage, bench, BB, and DBs.

So how many times a week I should work biceps and triceps at the end of my full-body 5x5 program?
I came up with biceps twice a week (M/F) and triceps once (W) to save the elbow. That's a big step down from 3 and 3.

Will there be increases in size if I go light enough to finish 3x15?[/quote]

you could do dumbell extensions then, just be careful as these can be hard on the elbows too. I'm a big fan of PJR pullovers for triceps, they really hammer the long head and are elbow friendlier than extensions.

I would stick to 15-20 reps just to make sure they're not getting too hammered. Three sets is fine, and yeah you should see some size increase. You could just superset bi's and tri's. Arms seem to benefit from getting really pumped up and training bi's and tri's together is a good way to do that.

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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by ephs » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:53 am

emil3m wrote:
ephs wrote:my guess is that you fv(k your elbow up cause of a bad form at triceps extentions.
I haven't done any extensions in years.. strange
:laughing3: your post sounded like you dropped the triceps extension cause of pain. i had similar problems cause of bad triceps extension form.

to your general 5x5 question: in the basic SL5x5 mehdi suggests no other exercises than the main program, which you should already know if you read something about it.. this program is very strength focused, you can gain more size + strength with programs like 5/3/1 from wendler. but i think it's true that more strength means also more muscle. maybe not in the short run, but in the long run you need big muscles to squat and deadlift heavy weights, when you progress with your weights (maybe i'm wrong, here are many experts in this forum, who could know better).

if the volume and intensity are getting too high for you, you can checkout the "madcow program", which is linked on the SL website. it has less weight increases and less volume.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by ephs » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:57 am

btw: here is a user in this forum who tried supersets for arms after his workout and couldn't see a size increase in months. i don't remember exact, who it was.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by emil3m » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:19 pm

thank you all for the great info!

I now have plenty to work with and go easier on my elbows.
Will be working triceps once a week doing 3x15 or maybe even 3x20.
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Re: Elbow pain - how to adjust volume and intensity?

Post by Jungledoc » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:48 pm

emil3m wrote:I have read quite a bit and all arrows point to elbow tendonitis.
Which tendon? Where exactly do you feel the pain? Is it really pain? In your first post you talked about tingling, not about pain.

If the pain is coming from the origin of the tendon (right where it is attached to the bone) it is probably an epicondylitis ("tennis elbow" if on the lateral epicondyle, "golfer's elbow" if in the medial one). There is a ton of information on the web under those names.

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