When it comes to training, there is one thing that is often overlooked and not very commonly discussed: Injury prevention.
This is extremely important! We all tend to stay distractedly focused on our lofty gain goals (which there is nothing wrong with lofty gain goals) or on our desire to lose those last few vanity pounds, that we neglect and then sometimes end up regretting the need for proactive injury prevention.
It is very simple to help facilitate injury free training but you do need to be mindful and implement it!
- Warm up!
5 minutes of light jogging, brisk walking or plyometric exercises followed up with light dynamic stretching to prepare your body for activity is a smart way to get into your training regimen for the day.
- Warm up sets
Do a few light sets of whatever exercise you are getting ready to perform to get your mind and body ready for the real work to come. Focus on form and contracting the muscle; wake them up and get them ready to fully fire!
- Ramp Your Weight
This means working up in a pyramid fashion with your weight amounts. I don’t think it is smart to start out with 200# on squat first set in (unless this is extremely light for you, then pick your starting weight). Rather I suggest working your way up every set. Have your goal amount of reps set and load the bar with a weight you feel you can perform for that amount of reps, if you go OVER the rep range then you know you started too light and just add it to your warm-up sets and start over. The main point is to get your muscles used to the load before you tax them to the max. Once you feel ready and warm, hit it hard!
- Listen to your body
Never will I tell you to train through pain. Ok… I might push you to train through MENTAL pain, but never through the “bad” body pain, as in the “I just ripped my pec but I’m going to finish this set” kind of pain. That is not smart training and will lead you to being sidelined for weeks, or even months! It makes more sense to LISTEN to your body and STOP if you feel something isn’t quite right. I would rather you be out a workout but able to rest and recover and then able to get back into the gym the next day versus taking large gaps of time off because you keep training through injuries because you are too tough to STOP.
- Stretch out
This is something that I see lacking in nearly every program, especially GUYS. You come in and move some impressive weight, destroy your legs or break your back; throw away your towel, grab your bag and walk out the door.
Not only are you missing a vital part of the GROWTH equation, you are setting yourself up for being prone to injury. I won’t say you need to spend 20 minutes doing static stretches and finish it with foam rolling every training session. But I will say that you need to consider what you just trained and do some static stretches to facilitate blood flow, recovery, GROWTH and range of motion. How many times have you went to squat and your hip flexors were so tight that you weren’t even able to perform a correct squat?
IF you will take the time to stretch the muscles worked you will find that your next workout won’t be so terrible when you are trying to get ready to move your weight. Which makes me want you to go back to point 3 and reread.