Alpha Progression
Getting back into training after injury - How to get back into strength training the right way!

Getting back into training after injury - How to get back into strength training the right way!

In sports, injuries happen from time to time. While meniscus damage and cruciate ligament tears are not uncommon in soccer, strength athletes most often have to deal with shoulder injuries. The shoulder is very susceptible to injury in bodybuilding as well as powerlifting and strongman sports.

35 to 43% of all injuries in bodybuilding are shoulder injuries. 86% of these are muscle tears and strains.

A strained shoulder (shoulder sprain) is characterized, for example, by an overstretching of the muscles and tendons in the shoulder region. Maybe you have already had to deal with such an injury before. The symptoms are severe pain and an automatic protective posture of the body.

In this post, you'll learn how to get back into training the right way after an injury!

  • The right training volume and optimal load
  • Tips on technique and exercise selection
  • The Repeated Bout and Muscle Memory Effects
  • Training plan and periodization

Slow training start

Let's assume you injured yourself while doing shoulder presses with dumbbells. Explosive, jerky movements and overloading of the joint in particular often lead to shoulder injury. This usually means a two to four week break from training.

If you've survived the time without the gym, you're probably highly motivated and want to build back the lost muscle mass as quickly as possible. However, you should take your return to strength training slowly.

Do your sessions at a lower intensity. This means that in the first two weeks you should not do too many sets or reps, and you should especially not use too heavy a weight when training.

Feel free to leave 2-3 reps per set in the tank to counteract overload. You can clearly track your reps in reserve (RIR) with the Alpha Progression App.

If, on the other hand, you try to put a strong stimulus in the recently recovered area right at the beginning, you will quickly injure yourself there again. Therefore, do not overdo it and avoid overstressing the injured muscle.

Practice proper technique

Use this time to hone your technique. Especially after a four-week break from training, you'll notice that you're a little rusty. A good grasp on proper technique and a clean execution are essential to avoiding future injuries.

In addition, you should allow enough time for warm-up sets. In this way, you can slowly get the target muscles used to the loads again and pay closer attention to your technique.

Think about the reason for your injury

You hurt yourself doing the dumbbell shoulder press. As such, it may be helpful to think about whether this exercise is right for you or not.

Similar to the standing barbell shoulder press, the dumbbell shoulder press requires a high level of coordination and core stability.

Here, the risk of injury is higher than with machine-guided variants. Therefore, it makes sense to consider other options to safely train your shoulder muscles. This would make you less susceptible to injuring your shoulders.

Muscle Soreness and the Repeated Bout Effect

It's normal to feel sore after the first few moderate workouts after you come back. However, it is important that you do not overdo it. Severe muscle soreness will prevent you from building muscle because your body will not be able to recover properly.

Your body will slowly get used to the load again and will be able to build up muscles optimally again after the first few weeks. This is called the "repeated bout effect".

Muscle memory effect

Re-entry strength training requires a little patience, but you will regain your muscle mass and strength levels over the next four weeks.

Your muscles "remember" the functions and stress limits again and can be recovered quickly. This is the so-called Muscle Memory Effect. Therefore, you do not have to worry about the lost gains, because you will quickly rebuild them with regular training.

To learn how to get your reentry nutrition right, check out our earlier post: Best way to get back into your gym routine!

Training plan for re-entry into strength training

When returning to strength training, you should think about your goals and plan your training accordingly. Here, periodization with a focus on progression is a good idea.

Especially after an injury, it is worthwhile to design your training in such a way that you slowly but constantly get stronger step by step. This will give you enough stimulus to stimulate muscle growth.


When returning to strength training after an injury, it is first important that you do not overload your body. Make sure you use good technique and choose the right exercises to minimize the risk of injury. This way you will be able to start strong on your new training program.

It is important that you set clear goals. A training periodization will help you to increase across several weekly cycles. This way you train with progression and will soon reach your old strength levels again. In addition, your body will get used to the higher load more easily.

Don't worry about your lost muscle mass. Both the Repeated Bout Effect and the Muscle Memory Effect ensure that your gains will come back quickly. Even if you take a forced break, you can start again afterwards!