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