Today more and more people realize that the key to a great physique is to not only count on cardio, but also include weight training in to a well structured workout routine. As a result, gyms now see a remarkable increase in new members; all ready and eager to tone their muscles, build some lean muscle mass and lose weight faster. It’s great – weight training helps improve stamina, endurance and coordination skills.
But here is the downside – with more and more beginners hitting the gym in record time, the number of weight-training injuries seen every year has gone up by 63%. Now that is a huge number, wouldn’t you agree? So why are people becoming more prone to injury at the gym?
The culprit here is common slipups. Most of us are guilty of them, and that’s why more often than not we walk out of a strenuous gym session limping and not strutting in style!This is why it’s important to understand the common gym blunders made by beginners, and how to power through them to avoid weight-training injuries!
Blunder No # 1: Skipping Warm-Up Stretches
Just like stretching is important before cardio, it’s crucial before weight lifting too. Weight training strains the muscles to lengthen and contract in order for them to gain mass and that is why jumping in to deadlifts without warming up the muscles is a huge blunder. If your muscles are stiff and cold, they are more prone to tears and sprains. A good warm-up stretch will increase blood circulation to the muscles and also improve on their range of motion, hence prepping the joints, muscles and ligaments for serious workout action.
Rather than static stretching exercises, follow a dynamic warm-up routine to warm all your muscles. 10 minutes of skipping or jogging followed with 1 set (10-12 reps) of pushups, lunges and squats should be the perfect start for your strength-training workout.
Blunder No # 2: Poor Form
The single most important factor that ensures injury prevention is good form. Yet, many of us don’t give it a lot of thought, especially when we are in a hurry to get through our workout on a busy day. If you are a woman, be more cautious as statistical data reveals women are 2 times more prone to leg and foot injuries as compared to men, thanks to their wider hips.
Stand straight, look up and keep your head held high while you pull back the shoulders, tighten your abs to stabilize the pelvic region and keep your legs shoulder width apart with your knees falling over your second toe for guidance. Now that is the perfect stance to start lifting weights!
Blunder No # 3: Over-Exerting the Shoulders
Believe it or not, gym beginners have lesser stable shoulder joints. And this holds especially true for women. The reason is that athletic people who do a lot of exercises where the elbows are constantly pulled behind the body, like in chest flies and rows, results in overstretching of the connective tissue at the shoulder joint.
The back of the shoulder becomes tight, as these exercises most affect the connective tissue towards the front of the shoulders. And hence, there is an imbalance created that can result in injury when lifting weights. The only way to avoid injury when lifting weight is to modify moves and ensure that the elbows do not extend to more than 2 inches behind the body. Avoid positioning a bar behind your head and use dumbbells instead of a bar when doing an overhead press.
Blunder No # 4: Not Working Equally on Opposing Muscle Groups
Make sure that you work both sides of the body to avoid imbalances. If you work on the quads, make sure you also work on the hamstrings. For every set of exercises done for the front of the body, there should be a balancing set of exercises done for the rear as well.
Most of us are more obsessed with working on biceps, chest, abs and quads. But don’t forget to also work on triceps, back muscles, buttock muscles and quads. This is the key to ensure that the muscles in the front of your body are as developed as the muscles on the rear of the body, and prevent injuries caused by strength imbalances.
Blunder No # 5: Too Much Too Soon
Now while it’s good you want to get fitter faster, you need to understand that your body has a limit. You want to do more reps, more number of sets and want to lift more weight and that’s good – as long as you give it time. Don’t start with one set of 8 reps and quickly move on to 3 sets of 12 reps without giving your body ample time to adjust to the changes. To handle extra load, your body must have more endurance; which is why gradual conditioning is the best.
If you aren’t careful and try to achieve too much too soon, the result will invariably be torn ligaments, sprains and strains. It’s good to practice a 3 step progression. Begin with perfecting good form without using weight; concentrate only on the movements and use nothing more than your own body weight to guide you. Once you have mastered proper form and can do 15 reps using only body weight, add light weights. Next step is to practice just 1 set with light weights for about 2 weeks, or however long it takes for you to feel comfortable and ensure you aren’t overexerting the muscles. Third step would be to gradually increase more sets along with proportionately increasing more weight as you master the moves.
So these are 5 gym blunders that every gym beginner must be aware of. However, as a fitness enthusiast, you would already know that the key to a fit, healthy body lies in paying equal attention to both exercise and diet.
So here is an article that tells you about 3 grave nutritional errors made by gym beginners, and gives you tips on how to avoid them as well.Good Luck!