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Nine Most Common Causes of Body Building Injury
By Jean Lam

Think you're safe from workout injury? Think again. Body building is not a completely safe sport. Bodybuilders work with extremely heavy weights and at the limits of their strength, and a single misstep can have serious consequences. Here are nine of the most common causes of workout injury.

Bad technique. This is by far the most common cause of workout-related injury. If you're not getting your technique right, you are setting yourself up. Bad technique causes joint damage, muscle rips and tendon tears. Under the kind of weight you're using to build strength, even the slightest deviation from correct technique can cause serious problems. And if you lose control of that heavy weight for even an instant, you could cause injury to yourself or others.

Bad warm-up technique. If you don't get the blood flowing in your muscles with a few quick, light practice reps, you're asking for trouble. A good warm-up routine increases flexibility, promotes blood flow, and gets your muscle ready for the heavy punishment you're about to inflict on it. Without a warm-up, your muscles will go into your workout cold-and may not be up to the task, especially if you're working a heavy load. Most professionals suggest a five-to-ten-minute warm-up consisting of approximately 20 to 25 reps of exercises that work the whole body under very light weight. Cardio workouts such as jogging, stair climbing, swimming and stationary biking can also provide an adequate warm-up.

Failure to stretch. Stretching should be done after your warm-up, between sets and after you're done weight training. It keeps muscles relaxed and flexible, promotes blood flow and actually increases muscle growth. In addition, a good stretching session after your workout can greatly reduce soreness the next day. If you don't stretch often during your workout, not only do you risk injury but you also won't build muscle as efficiently as you could.

Distractions. Allow yourself to become distracted by other weight lifters, conversation or noise around you, and you could find your grip slipping or your balance going at a critical moment. Do whatever you need to do to ensure you're completely focused-from bringing your own music to block out sounds to going to the gym alone so your friends can't distract you.

Working out too hard after a break. If you've been off your workout routine for more than a week or so, chances are you will have experienced at least some loss of strength. It can be dangerous to jump right back in where you left off after a break of significant length. You may not be capable of handling the same weight you could handle before. When coming back from a long break, start slow.

An inattentive spotter. Many body builders rely on spotters to help them through the heaviest reps. But sometimes your partner doesn't provide enough protection. If your spotting partner isn't prepared for you to drop a rep-which is very common once you get to a certain level-you could be in serious trouble. Be very selective about whom you ask to spot for you, and if your spotter isn't completely focused on you during your reps, don't ask for his help again.

Weights that are too heavy. It's not unusual for a body builder to go heavy sooner than he should. But moving too fast can cause serious injury to any body builder. If you can't control the weight as you lower it or have to jerk violently to lift it, it is too heavy for you. Immense damage can be caused by a dropped or flung weight, or a weight that forces you off balance. No matter how heavy you go, you must be in absolute control of your weight at all times-or you're not ready to lift that much.

Training too much. Train too frequently and you'll tire yourself out. Many ambitious body builders spend hours at the gym every day, training to the point of complete exhaustion. This can have the opposite of the desired effect, causing muscle mass to shrink instead of grow as your body starts to consume itself to provide needed energy. While many pro bodybuilders go to the gym every day, they are also usually physically different than most regular body builders. Statistics show most of us are actually hardgainers, and it benefits the average body builder to go to the gym only two or three times a week.

Forced reps. When you extend a set past the point of failure, that's a forced rep. It's a technique advanced body builders use to build muscle faster, and it has been shown to work. However, it has also been shown to cause serious injury. Only do forced reps if you're an experienced body builder and are working with an experienced spotter. Otherwise your body could fail at any moment and you could lose control of your weight, risking injury to yourself and those around you.

Body builders walk a fine line. They must lift to the point of exhaustion to promote growth, but if they go just a little over the line, they risk serious injury. Bodybuilding will never be completely safe, but you can minimize your risk of injury by adopting a policy of slow and careful progress. Use correct technique, partner with an experienced spotter, warm up and stretch, and don't take on more than you can handle, and you should be able to stay safe at the gym.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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