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I'm a 20 year old, 150lb male, who has been doing stronglifts for a little over a month and a half. I've been lifting weights for around two years now so I am not a complete novice. I have been making great strength gains and I am really happy with doing the program. However, I have been experiencing pain in my muscles and I'm wondering if I should stop lifting for a while.

In my arms I am experiencing a dull aching pain starting from my lateral deltoids down to just before my elbow. The pain seems to be the worse when I am doing barbell rows but it has also been hurting while doing overhead presses and long after I work out. When ever I am at home and lift or pull something laterally, I feel that dull, aching pain.

Furthermore, my lower left lats, (and just the left one), has a sharper pain that is definitely from the squatting. I am not sure why I am getting this pain. I think its due to the fact that in an effort to keep my chest up and back straight I am actually arching my back.

These pains are NOT muscle soreness. Currently I am just pushing through it as it is not cripplingly painful. Is this a bad idea? I suspect the answer is yes.

Edit: For further clarification I work out 3 days a week per the program. For arm movements like overhead press and bench, I try to rest at a max of 1 min 30 between sets. For Squats I usually rest about 2-2.5 minutes. For each exercise I warm up with 2 sets of empty barbell, then 3, then 2 reps of increasing weight. At the end of the workout I do the assistance exercises. 3x8 sets of pullups on overhead press days, and 3x12 sets of dips on bench day.

I definitely lift on the heavier side of what my body is capable of. When I first start my work set of the squats, that first rep feels very difficult almost like I won't be able to complete even the first rep. Things get a little easier after that first set and I can usually get the whole 5x5 in. However most strength guys talk about being explosive. With the exception of my rows and deadlifts, nothing feels explosive about my workout. I'm barely making the full 5 reps with the squat and overhead press.

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Give a structure to the weightlifting program that you are following; it will help the experts here. Also about the rest periods and the stretches; are you following them? Include these in your question. –  Freakyuser Oct 3 '13 at 5:08
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Not related to your pain/injury question, but you mention you're stuck at 75lbs on overhead press. Have you considered taking more rest between sets? That's what has gotten me past plateaus. As you lift heavier, you're going to need to start increasing rest times. –  Kate Oct 4 '13 at 7:29
    
The pain sounds similar to a rotator cuff strain or some form of shoulder inflammation. Deload, take longer rests, get your form checked. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 4 '13 at 8:22
    
Did you start with just the barbell as the author of the program advised? Are you using good forms? Carrying more than your body can conveniently allow? –  Kneel-Before-ZOD Apr 28 '14 at 13:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Pain during a lift is indication of injury. We can't diagnose what that injury is, but you need at minimum a rest week, a 20% deload, and mandatory form checks before allowing yourself to progress to heavier weights.

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Hi Kate, thanks for your feedback. When you say pain DURING the lift, do you mean, (and does it make a difference), that its literally DURING the lift. I do not actually feel that much pain, if any at all, during the lift. It is only maybe a minute or so afterwards that it just starts to ache. –  echelon4m Oct 4 '13 at 6:03
    
I did mean literally during. During is a more definite warning sign than after the lift. But, it is also not normal to experience ache or soreness within a few minutes after lifting. If you're sure you're not just feeling muscle burn (which I doubt you are on stronglifts), I'd still take the pain as sign of injury. You may have caught it early enough that a little break, weight drop, and form correction can get you back on track. –  Kate Oct 4 '13 at 7:23
    
Thanks again Kate. Next week, I will take the entire week off and deload after that. Just to finish my 3rd workout for the week, I did go to the gym today and I took your advice above to increase rest time. THIS HELPED A LOT! I did not feel nearly as much pain and I was able to lift with better form and heavier weights. ____ I know you can't really do anything without seeing my form, but do you have any idea what's causing my lower LEFT lat pain from squats? Today I narrowed my grip to hands directly over shoulders and it seemed to help a little bit. Once again, thanks for your help! –  echelon4m Oct 5 '13 at 1:39

Late response I know but in case you are still experiencing issues with this my experiences with the 5x5 programs may be of help. I've found that the 5x5 strength training programs are great for someone that is new to weight training or someone that is trying to get back in shape. But as you progress through the program and your fitness level improves to the point where you are in the intermediate to advanced level in strength as per the weight lifting strength standards charts (http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm) you should stop the rapid weight increases that are associated with 5x5 programs. If you continue past a 10 to 12 week cycle without the recommended breaks or off weeks you'll reach a point where the strength of your tendons in the elbows, shoulders, knees, and wrist cannot keep up with the muscle gains. So even though your muscles can handle the increases in weight being lifted your tendons cannot. If you are confident that your form is correct then tendon strain may be the reason for your elbow pain. Take a week off. During this week off look into the Wendler 5/3/1 workout or the mad cow type workout programs which are still strength based but have a slower progression as well as a sarcoplasmic hypertrophy component.
Hituptony is right. Once your body size to strength ratio is at a high fitness level you will need to build additional mass to prevent overloading your body with ever increasing weight that is being lifted. You can do this up to a certain point without getting the bloated bodybuilder look that some people such as myself want to avoid.
I'm at a happy place regarding the weight that I'm able to lift in all of the main lifts and am no longer striving to always lift more weight. I've also cut my workouts from 3 days per week down to 2 days per week full body 5x5 workouts which I've found allow for better recuperation between workouts and less over stressing of the joints and tendons. I'm much stronger than most guys my size and no bloated look. (I'm 5'9" tall, 175 lbs, and my lifts are: squat-305x5, deadlift-365x4, bench press-210x5, overhead press-155x5, pendelay row-170x5). Not too shabby for a 45 year old guy with lots of hard miles on his odometer.

I've never heard of lat pain due to squats. I would suggest that you make sure that your elbows are pointing downward and directly below the bar throughout the lift. Do not allow your elbows to point rearward during your lifts. Get your elbows in proper position before starting the lift and make sure to keep them in the same position throughout.
A week off will probably do you some good. When you return after your week off make sure that your form is spot on for all lifts, not only your squat. Bench press, rows, overhead press, and deadlifts. Form should ALWAYS take priority over your ego...ie ALWAYS keep the weight within the limits of good form. As soon as your form starts breaking down it's time to back off a half turn. Same goes with pain. When pains develop outside of normal muscles soreness you should stop lifting until the cause is identified and corrected and the pain is no longer present. It's better to lose a couple of weeks of gains rather than not be able to workout for several months or longer due to severe injury....not to mention the cost of surgeries and medical bills. I suggest that you ignore the "no pain, no gain" mantra and adopt a philosophy of longevity and good health for a lifetime. There will always be someone bigger and/or stronger than you. There's no need to try prove me wrong because I know that I'm right. Always trying to lift heaver and heaver weight without regard for proper form and following the no pain, no gain thing will end up getting you hurt and can result in lifelong injuries that cannot be corrected. Never ignore aches and pains. It's your body's way of telling you something is not right.

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Sounds like it would be an upper-body/shoulder imbalance. Your loads are too heavy for your body to support. I had similar issues, my pain radiated around my elbow joints and under my arm pits at times, behind my ribs.

I utilized a system called progressive overload in order to build up the strength needed to perform compound exercises with heavier weights.

In your case you should isolate the muscles that are giving you the issues, lighten up the weight a little and do pyramid supersets to build up the strength in those muscle areas without overloading it. I wouldn't necessarily take a rest week, but reconfigure your program, and start with a lighter weight in a aesthetic based strength program. This will build you up by incorporating sarcoplasmic hypertrophy AND myofibrillar hypertrophy, oppose to just myofibrillar.

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Why do you recommend isolation, rather than form correction or developing the required muscles as part of the full movement? Why do you recommend an aesthetic based strength program? –  Kate Oct 3 '13 at 23:17
    
Hituptony, thank you for your advice. I believe I do have some serious strength imbalances. While I am pretty much weak all over, my legs certainly lift much more relative weight than my arms. I deadlift 180lbs and squat 175, but can only bench 115. My overhead press is pretty much stuck at 75. I also wonder if my form is sloppy due to these muscle imbalances. While I do enjoy the purely strength-based training programs more, I would certainly consider your hybrid approach if it meant my body not aching so much. –  echelon4m Oct 4 '13 at 6:08
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@echelon4m If you're completing reps with proper form, the weight is not too heavy for your body to support. If you follow the stronglifts program, the muscles that need to get stronger in order to perform the movements will get stronger unless you are injured. Those numbers for deadlift/squat/bench/overhead press seem reasonable. Deadlift is heavier than squat, which is heavier than bench, which is heavier than press. Your plateau on press could be related to a form problem, that could also be related to your pain. –  Kate Oct 4 '13 at 7:27
    
Kate's right. Your legs should be stronger than your arms. Deadlift/squat/bench/press of 180/175/115/75 is entirely in correct proportion. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 5 '13 at 6:20

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