Congratulations, you’ve finally overcome your fear and joined the local gym or maybe you are converting your garage or spare room into your dream home gym. Either way, it’s important to recognize that working out has some risk involved, and you need to exercise safely in order to avoid injury.
You’re excited, new gym, new equipment, new workout program and you go at it, giving 110% until you rip, tear, or crush some part of your body, setting you back weeks or months until you heal. Or, you could approach your training correctly and avoid those painful injuries. How?
Know your limitations
Recognize your physical limitations and the limits of your knowledge and experience. If you have chronic conditions or injuries that limit your training, learn to adapt and work around them in order to avoid aggravating them or causing additional injury.
Choose training options and activities that will improve your condition, not irritate it. If you lack the knowledge to develop your own program either research and learn on your own or hire a trainer to get you started on the right path. Too expensive? A trainer is cheaper in the long run than a trip to the hospital or the ambulance ride to get there.
Along this same note, never try to follow the workout routines of your favorite athletes outlined in the magazines. They are professionals who have knowledge, years of training experience, exceptional genetics and possibly chemical advantages. Walk before you run, be a beginner first, then intermediate and then advanced trainer.
Act like a grown-up
When you’re 18, you are invincible. You can bounce back from just about anything. But if you’re 30, or pushing 40 or more years, you need to take a more controlled approach to your training as you are now hormonally challenged. Don’t use aging as an excuse, but train smart and allow rest and recovery time to recuperate and rebuild.
Never skip the warm-up
Start slow and build intensity, you need to warm the muscles and joints and increase your heart rate and circulation before you start training, regardless of the type of training. You should stretch as well, slow, steady stretches without bouncing before and after your workout. Your pre-workout warm-up and stretching will go a long way toward preventing training injuries.
Focus and equipment
Whether training at the gym or in your home gym, you must focus on each movement to avoid injury. Focus on the exercise and not dropping the dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell. Common injuries include dropping dumbbells when trying to put them back in the rack, not using collars on the outside of your plates on the barbell, or letting your attention wander while on the treadmill.
Using cheap, faulty or unstable equipment often causes injury, if a piece of equipment is new to you, learn to use it safely. The stability ball is a good example, it is designed to be unstable and can add a new dimension to your training as you must stabilize your body as you stabilize the weights you are using, but it is also an accident waiting to happen.
Use training aids like this with caution. Also, never do heavy barbell squats without a squat rack or bench presses without a sturdy bench. Train safely!
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