Lifting weights is one of the safest and healthiest activities you can treat your body to.
For starters, strength training increases:
- Bone density
- Muscle mass
- The number of people who want to see you nekkid. It's science.
While it's possible to get injured lifting things, you can get injured doing literally anything. So let's learn how to not get injured lifting weights so you're less likely to get injured in general, mmmmmk?
I'm going to let you in on how to stay injury free, not just in the weight room, but outside of it.
Listen to your body
Your body is constantly sending you feedback. If you want to stay strong and pain free in the long run, after your "after" picture, it behooves you to pay attention this feedback.
Pay attention to how your body responds to different exercises.
As you experiment with different lifting techniques and strategies you may encounter the occasional minor ache. This will happen. Luckily, it’s not the end of the world, so long as you're smart about it.
Work around joint pain, not through it. This way, you prevent a minor pain from turning into an injury.
Leave your ego at the door when you set foot in the gym. The best thing you can do to prevent gym injuries is to know when to walk away.
Also, just because your knees feel a little cranky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever squat again. Maybe you shouldn’t go crazy on them today. Or maybe you need to play around with your technique, foot placement, knee position, or try a different variation altogether.
Improve your lifting technique every workout
Technique isn’t something you figure out once and are done with it. It’s a constant pursuit.
I define proper lifting technique as whatever allows you to lift the most weight and work the target muscles, in the safest way. Good form yields the highest reward with the least risk.
Some people get really jacked lifting like drunk baby giraffes. They may get away with it, but you don’t want to follow their example. They get jacked in spite of their poor technique, not because of it.
That’s not to say lifting improperly will necessarily set you up for injury, but it does increase the chances of it.
Plus, I'd argue those giraffe-people would get better results if their movements were more graceful and intentional.
While every exercise is performed differently, there are some general tips that apply 87.3% of the time regardless of exercise:
- Keep your back flat. Don’t let that heavy weight on the bar alter your posture.
- Use your money maker. You should feel your butt working every time you do any lower body exercise, especially squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts.
- Keep your feet flat and cemented into the floor. Push more through your heels than your toes.
- When lifting heavy, keep your abs braced HARD like your little brother is about to hit you in the stomach.
- Keep your knees lined up with your shoelaces. Don't let your knees collapse inward.
- Know what muscles you’re trying to work with an exercise. Focus on flexing those muscles as you perform the exercise.
These 6 tips alone will get your movement looking pretty damn sexy.
Occasionally letting your technique slip, even with super heavy weight, isn’t the end of the world, but it's not a good habit.
Leave the gym feeling like you could have went harder
Don’t go into every workout like a fight to the death. It's just a workout. You're not wrestling a bear. Chill out brah.
Get to the gym, put the reps in, punch the clock, and go home. Most workouts should be like this.
That doesn't mean don't work hard. It means work smart.
Going too heavy, too often, simply isn’t wise.
You shouldn't feel annihilated after every training session. Fatigue isn't an indicator of how effective a workout is.
Lifting should add more spring to your step. Your joints and your body should feel stronger and more sturdy. Movement and tasks outside of the gym should get easier, not harder. If this isn’t happening you probably should tone down the workouts a little.
Don't let your ambition or ego trump your humility, patience, and self awareness. The weights will still be there tomorrow champ.
Recover like you mean it
It doesn’t matter how hard you train if you’re not recovering from your workouts. The harder you work, the harder you need to recover.
Here's how you recover enough to get the most out of your workouts:
- Get 6-8 hours of sleep per night
- Eat lots protein and veggies at every meal
- Rest at least one day in between heavy lifting sessions
Respect the iron and it will respect you back.