Well, the good news is my hip/leg injury is finally getting better. Went to a specialist earlier this week and he confirms that no surgery is needed. That's always a relief and brings me to the point . . .
If you work out hard long long enough you become immune to the pain. In other words, you can go hard and heavy for an hour to an hour and a half and stay focused. You feel the pain but you get used to it. It is at that point you have to be careful because you can go too far -- your muscles can take what you're dishing out but your tendons and ligaments may not and they will give you little or no warning before being damaged.
That is a key to success for those have been at it awhile and I notice that when I watch champions like Jay Cutler and Phil Heath train, they often engage in a "rest-pause" a couple of times each set. A part of it is getting a little additional rest but another more important part is feeling where they are. They want to completely exhaust the muscle but not tear anything else up.
This dynamic is something Kelly and I are focusing on more as we begin shaving down for Spring. You are especially vulnerable to injury when you are on a calorie-restricted diet and if you've worked for months with a few excess calories, you are bigger, stronger, a lot stronger than you were going into the bulking phase. As you move into the cutting phase, however, you cannot handle as much weight and if you try you will injure yourself sooner or later, probably sooner.
Train hard; diet harder, but always consider where you are in each set -- are you maximizing muscle tension or are you going too far? After you have trained a while, you will know the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain." Unfortunately, for most of us we only learn that through injury, hopefully none too severe. A good trainer can help in this regard, too, but make sure and get one who will take you far enough!
We will be training at Gold's Gym in San Antonio, Texas this Saturday morning -- should be fun!