Even the most thought-out fitness plan can quickly be derailed should you suffer a sprain, strain, or muscle tear. Fortunately, it is easy to avoid injury when you follow these seven tips.
#1. Don’t Skip the Warm-Up
Dr. Richard Stein claims that warming up properly allows for better exercise performance. It does this by gradually increasing the temperature of the muscle, making it more pliable and elastic so that strains and tears are less likely. To avoid injury, try performing 5 to ten minutes of light activity such as jogging or walking prior to lifting weights.
#2. Stretch Before, During, and After
Perform light stretches after your warm-up to loosen the muscles and make them injury-resistant. Do stretches between sets to promote muscular circulation and help build muscle. After your workout, another set of stretches will help alleviate soreness and take away some of the stress on the muscle that might lead to injury.
#3. Use the Right Form
Poor form is a leading cause of weight-training injury, and can result in tears to the muscle or other delicate tissue. Always use proper form, and avoid twisting or cajoling the body into unusual positions, particularly when using very heavy weights. If performing “cheat reps”, allow yourself to cheat only as much as necessary to complete a couple extra reps.
#4. Choose Appropriate Weights
Using weights that are too heavy is just as dangerous as not using the right form. If you must jerk to lift a weight, or find yourself unable to control any of your movements, you should switch to a lighter weight to avoid injury. Remember that in these circumstances, the only thing you’re working out is your ego.
#5. Avoid Training Too Often
Not only does overtraining make it impossible for you to grow muscle, but it also increases your risk of injury. Overtraining depletes glycogen stores, causing the muscles to become severely weakened and prone to injury. For best results, avoid training any certain muscle group more than two or three times each week – many people exercise a muscle group only once a week.
#6. Don’t get Distracted
It will be much easier to avoid injury if you are not distracted during your workout. When you are not paying attention, your form may suffer or you might not notice gym hazards. Distractions also prevent you from concentrating on the muscles while lifting, something that can greatly affect how well they develop. When using a spotter, that person should also remain focused on what you are doing rather than texting or joking around with friends.
#7. Ensure Good Nutrition
You may not think that what you eat can help you avoid injury, but your diet definitely has an effect. Avoid doing heavy training when you are severely counting calories (such as when you’re cutting), as your body will likely be in a weakened state and therefore more prone to injury during this time.
Your risk of injury does not necessarily decrease as your fitness level increases. To avoid injuries, it is important to incorporate these seven tips into your workout plan in order to maintain a constant state of awareness.