Training with an injury

I had an accident and injured my ankle ligaments. My foot was swollen, it was quite painful to walk on, and it put me off training completely for at least two weeks. The doctor recommended me to not train for at least 6 weeks, but being the fitness addict that I am this seemed like an eternity. I consulted with my trainer and physiotherapist and it was decided that I can do some exercises with light weights and put my focus more on my upper body and core instead of my legs. First thought through my mind? There goes my favourite training day of the week: leg day :(.

After the first two weeks of not being able to train (and being pretty damn pissed about this fact) I was able to slowly start again. Leg day did become a bit difficult as I still couldn’t put much pressure on my foot, so my training schedule had to be adjusted.

I recommend that if you have an injury you first of all LISTEN to your body. Usually, it already gives you an indication whether you should rest it or whether you can try to do some exercises. If you’re picking up training again, depending on the injury, do it slowly. Your body needs time to heal itself and sometimes it takes longer than you think. By overdoing it you can slow down your progression even more and maybe make the injury worse than it was in the beginning. Always do this in consultation with a doctor / physiotherapist or a personal trainer. They can even suggest alternative exercises that you can do.

In my case this “break” from training had its benefits. I went from training 6x a week to no training at all for 2 weeks. My body and muscles had time to recover completely, but I did keep my diet in place. After these two weeks I actually lost 2% body fat. This is a clear indication that eating healthy is key!

I had to do an adjusted training schedule for 4 weeks. After this my foot was declared completely healed. But I still had to build up the exercises I was able to do before I had the injury, instead of going right into it. Want to know what exercises I focused on during my adjusted training?

Upper body

Back exercises: Seated rows & Wide-grip lat pull downs

Chest: Bench press & Incline bench press

Shoulders: Sitting shoulder press & Traps

Arms: Cable triceps push downs (2 different exercises), Cable biceps curls, and Cable hammer curls. Even though I had to stand for these exercises I made sure that the weights were light and that most of my body weight was set on my non-injured foot.


I increased my focus on core exercises to build a stronger core. Core exercises such as planking, side planking & mountain climbers were out of the question. Some of the exercises I did were: Abs-roller; Russian twist, with my feet in the air; Any Abs-Machine exercises; Hanging knee-ups (make sure there is someone that can catch you when you need to get down); and crunches without putting much pressure on my foot.

Legs & Butt

I still did some minor leg exercises with light weights. Squads, Lunges, and leg press I could only dream of being able to do. Instead I did exercises on the Glute machine (I made sure my body was mostly on the bench so no pressure was added on my foot); Leg extension; and cable lying leg curl. For the last one it was super light weight, because my injured foot couldn’t lift much but I still managed to do some reps.

Of course, these exercises were fit for my situation and it all depends on what injury you have. But there’s always a way and don’t give up. Don’t think that because you weren’t able to train a few weeks all your progression would be lost. This will definitely not be the case. As long as you stay focused on your goal, eat healthy and move as much as you can, you’ll be surprised how your body will react once you can completely pick up your training again.


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