Fitness Articles

Avoiding Injury in the Weight Room

Don't Be the Biggest Dumbbell in the Gym!

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Safety Tip #4: Stretch between sets or exercises.
Trying to fit in the "trinity" of fitness (cardio, strength and flexibility training) can be tough when you're crunched for time. But all three components are important for a sound—and safe—workout program. Make the best use of your time though by stretching between sets or exercises. The downtime between sets should be about 1-2 minutes anyway, which is plenty of time for you to stretch the muscle group you are exercising. For example, if you are using the leg extension machine, you can stand and stretch your quadriceps between each set. This way when you finish your strength training you will have also completed your stretching, which also helps prevent injuries!

Safety Tip #5: Exercising opposing muscles equally.
Training every major muscle group is safe and desirable. We all have some muscle groups that we love to work on, and others that we tend to neglect. Don’t be guilty of working just the muscles that you see in the mirror (chest, shoulders, arms, and thighs). If you only work the front of the body, for example, this can create an imbalance that makes you more prone to both pain and injury. Training all muscle groups equally ensures symmetry (muscle balance) and safety. So make sure to target the opposing muscles too—biceps and triceps, chest and back, abdominals and lower back, and quadriceps and hamstrings, just to name a few.

Safety Tip #6: Mirrors are your friend.
Sometimes mirrors get a bad rap. No doubt they can be intimidating, but they also can be a great tool to ensure you are performing an exercise correctly. Sometimes looking in the mirror when using machines helps you see the weight stack as it descends (to prevent it from touching down between each rep). When using free weights, the mirror can be invaluable when checking your posture and body position during an exercise. You are not being vain by looking at yourself when you exercise! Just as a track athlete uses a stopwatch, a mirror can be a valuable tool when strength training—at home and the gym.

Safety Tip #7: Slow down.
The speed at which you lift weights is crucial. Look around your gym and you will see some poor examples of technique, mostly for the sake of lifting heavier weights than a person can handle. Heavy weights and fast, uncontrolled movement is an injury waiting to happen. When lifting weights, your movement should be slow and controlled—without momentum, swinging or swaying. Try to lift using a “2-4 count” instead, lowering the weight twice as slowly as you lift it. As you raise the weight, exhale and count "1…2." As you lower the weight, inhale and count "1…2…3…4." This ensures slow, steady movement, which minimizes your risk of injuries like muscle pulls and strains.
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

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