FitSense: When injury strikes

Training Smart – What to to do when illness or injury strike

You may have heard the term, or a variation of the term, ‘Don’t train hard, train smart’. The idea being that to achieve great results and avoid injury, you should choose exercises best suited to what you’re trying to achieve, as well as pushing yourself and challenging yourself, but not too hard! I believe it’s a pretty good philosophy to go by, but finding the balance can be difficult.

One way to avoid injury is to set yourself up well from the start. If you intend to take up a sport or a fitness regime, you can’t just go straight into it. Well you can, but you’ll be at risk of pulling muscles and causing yourself some damage. You may well have been a super star in year 10 PE, but you’ll still need a good base level of fitness to get you started. There are plenty of great beginner workout plans in the FitSense app so make sure you check them out!

A great way of highlighting the importance of setting yourself up right is by looking at the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen (always improving). Instead of inducting their new staff with the standard work based training and industry training, some Japanese business’ help get their employees in better physical shape by providing them with exercise classes. Whether the job role is physical or not, this benefits the company (improved health means less sick days) as well as benefiting the staff (improved well being). Longer term this could possibly contribute to lessening the costs of the Japanese health care system. All in all, everyone wins.

Once you are well under way into your workout plans and you’re obsessed with improving and achieving your goals, you’ll need the consistency of good quality training to help you along your journey. All being well, you’ll be able to complete your workouts successfully and feel great afterwards. On occasion you may feel that you haven’t worked hard enough and you’ll want to do more! But make sure you know your limits. You could learn from the Jamaican sprint team – in training they never push themselves to anything more than 75% effort. You’ll never see a Jamaican sprinter push themselves to their absolute limits whilst in training. They understand the importance of consistently training at a high level. They train smart to enable them to focus on perfecting their technique, and the never train hard so they can avoid injury and turn up to training the next day feeling fresh!

You can set yourself up as well as you can and you can also train smart but unfortunately, reality may kick in and we’ll come down with a cold or pick up an injury of sorts. We’re only human after all! On the subject of illness, personally I follow Ian Olivers philosophy. In his beginners guide book to boxing ‘Boxing Fitness’, he advises that if your illness is affecting you from the neck upwards, you can train lightly. So with a runny nose or a tickly cough you can complete a lighter session. However anything affecting you below the neck, sickness bug, chesty cough etc, do not train at all. It may seem simple, but it is a handy guide to follow.

And on the subject of injury, it really is important to train smart. If you feel a pain during a rep, a set or a session, simply stop. Seek advice from your PT or the gym staff, or assess the situation yourself. Have a think about the pain you are feeling and decide how to proceed. You could always switch things up to a different exercise if you are not comfortable continuing. Don’t risk your long term goals by letting your ego get in the way! In a previous post – I mentioned that I lost interest in exercise when I picked up an injury and couldn’t train how I used to. Don’t make that mistake! If you have an injury, focus on what you can do. Find a new way to train or just keep your fitness levels whilst you are recovering. You can find my previous post here –

Have you got any tips on how to avoid injury? Or have you overcome an injury by focusing on something else? Let everyone know by commenting! And remember to train smart, not hard!


Author: Adam Waind



Ian Oliver, Boxing fitness; A guide to getting fighting fit. First published by Snowbooks in August 2004.