Resistance training is one of the most popular forms of exercise out there and plays a huge role in improving people’s lives around the world. It has a plethora of benefits, such as increased strength and energy, improved flexibility and balance, which makes you feel better about your body, which then leads to more self-confidence, a better mood, a healthier lifestyle, more positive relationships with people, and a more productive performance at work.
However, there are times things go wrong and you get injured from resistance training. Consequently, you not only miss out on regular workouts and the benefits that come with it, but your mood also decreases and you end up putting on weight and body fat, due to lack of activity. So, it is vital that you avoid injury when training, both for your physical and mental health. This is how you can ensure this.
Warm Up and Perform at the Right Intensity
Before you start to lift any weight, it is very important that you perform warm-up exercises. The best you can do are usually dynamic stretches, which are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. The dynamic stretches that you will perform depend on the muscle groups that you will be targeting during the session, but these will increase the blood flow to your muscles so that they are ready and warm for the session.
The tempo and intensity at which you lift are also going to be very important. Many people make the mistake of trying to lift a certain weight as quickly as possible in order to burn lots of calories and lose body fat and weight. Not only is this ineffective for those goals, due to the lack of time under tension, but lifting at a quicker pace will encourage your body to move into sudden, unnatural positions, which can often lead to muscle strains, injuries, or even something more serious. Make sure that the tempo is slow and controlled. By doing this, your body will be in a much safer position.
Perfect Exercise Execution
One of the most important things to get right during your resistance training sessions is technique. Many people perform exercises without knowing the correct way to execute the movement and instead focus on just lifting the weight up, whatever way they can. Before you start to lift heavier, you need to be able to execute the exercise correctly, for two main reasons. The first is so that you are properly working the muscle(s) you want to target. If you are not focusing on maximum time under tension, the muscle breakdown during your sessions will be limited and you will see very little, if any progress.
The second reason is so that you avoid injury. If you are performing an exercise incorrectly and then add weight on top of that, you are going to put your body under a lot of strain and increase the risk of doing serious damage to yourself. This is particularly relevant to compound movements (heavier, more demanding lifts, such as the deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press, and barbell row) that hit multiple muscle groups and work the body harder. Practice good form with your own bodyweight and then a much lighter weight before you increase how much your lift. This is essential to avoiding injury.
Don’t Lift Too Heavy, Too Early
A very common mistake people make during resistance training is that they try to lift too heavy, too early. Even if you have mastered the execution of a particular exercise, if you try to lift a weight that is too heavy for you, you are going to put your body under enormous strain. Furthermore, if the weight is too heavy, you could put yourself in dangerously awkward situations where you are not able to complete another repetition and have to drop out of the set, midway through.
For some exercises such as the deadlift, barbell row, and isolation movements (less demanding exercises that target one muscle group), you will be able to exit midway through fairly easily. However, for other demanding movements where the weight is above you, such as the squat, bench press and overhead press, you put yourself at risk of the weight falling on top of you if you can’t exit the movement correctly. So, take your time with the weight – start what you are comfortable with and gradually work up. This will make your workouts safe and effective.
Rest Your Body and Avoid Overtraining
Resistance training is enjoyed and loved by many people across the world. As a result, it is something people look forward to, rather than dread, which means that the frequency of their sessions is increased. The number of sessions you need to do per week depends on your goals. For example, if you are a beginner or just looking to improve your body shape, two to four sessions are perfect (I would usually recommend three). However, if you are experienced at resistance training, have plenty of muscle mass, and are looking to add more, five to six sessions per week are usually what is required.
Yet a key area that many people who enjoy resistance training overlook is rest. To get in shape, resistance training sessions are vital for breaking down muscle groups but it is in the recovery where the changes happen. Part of your recovery includes adequate rest periods so that your body can gradually make those changes over time. This means that quality sleep of 7-9 hours has to be consistent, as does incorporating rest days so that your body can recharge and go again for the next session. The frequency of these rest periods is dependent on how often you need to train and your overall fitness goals. However, a lack of rest days can lead to fatigue, decreased performance during your workouts and, consequently, a higher risk of injury.
Improve the Quality of Your Nutrition
In addition to incorporating these training points, you must also make sure that nutrition is of high quality. Even if you warm up regularly, your exercise execution is great, you are gradually increasing the lifted weight over time, you are lifting at the right tempo, and you are resting your body, if your diet is not supporting all those key points, you are going to put yourself at a higher risk of injury.
The scale of your diet will depend on your fitness goal but your food should consist of a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables. Protein is a macronutrient that essential for the recovery of the muscle breakdown during your training sessions – without that, your muscles will not properly recover and you are more likely to do damage to your body. Carbohydrates are going to be your primary energy source and will ensure that your performance during your workouts is optimised. Healthy fats and vegetables also provide vital nutrients for your body to function properly and for protecting your immune system.
A structured, well balanced, effective, and sustainable diet is going to provide you with the fuel to perform your workouts to the best of your ability and will be key in the recovery and progress of your body outside of your sessions. By increasing the quality of your nutrition, your body is far more likely to withstand the demands of resistance training.
So, during your resistance training sessions, you have to be smart to prevent injury. Make sure you warm-up, you perfect exercise execution, don’t lift too heavy and instead gradually increase the weight over time, lift at the right tempo, give your body adequate rest, and improve the quality of your overall nutrition. These points are going to be crucial to you preventing injury during your sessions and will make sure that you continue to make progress over time.
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