A workout at the gym is not simple; it is intense and if performed properly, there is a fine line between muscle growth and injuries. If you work out really intense (the only workout which stimulates muscle growth), then you are constantly flirting with some kind of of an injury. Tapping the “danger zone” is where muscle growth is.
“The fastest way” to slow down your progress and to potentially end your career in exercise is by causing an injury to your own body; it is necessary to be cautious, to prevent injuries before they occur.
Here are the 10 most common causes of injury in the gym:
1. Using bad form when performing an exercise
This is probably the most common cause of injuries, and it is related to improper execution of exercises. Improper technique can stretch or tear a muscle or damage the delicate connective tissue.
Each body has its specific biomechanical directions. Arms, legs, hips, hands and feet can rotate in certain (unwanted) directions, especially if you load them with weights. Strive to become a perfectionist in performing exercises and follow the proper execution of a particular exercise – without moving, jerking or rotating while pushing the weight.
Either perform the repetition with a proper technique or you will miss the benefits of it and increase the chance of an injury.
2. Using too much weight (a.k.a – ego lifting)
Using a weight that is too heavy can be a major potential risk to you. When is it too much?
– When you can’t control the weight while putting it down;
– When you can’t perform movements within your biomechanical capabilities;
Weight is subordinate to the laws of gravity, it is always “seeking” the floor. Everything in its path (or hooked on to it) is in danger.
3. Improper help from your training partner
As the weights you lift grow, at one time you’ll come to a point where you need a training partner or an assistant for some of the exercises, including bench press and squats. And when your workouts get really intense, you’ll need assistants with experience.
A good spotter should follow what happens during the whole set, until its very end. The spotter also only needs to “touch” the bar at the moment you need help, which will be enough for you to finish the repetition.
A good training partner or assistant should be strong, have a sense of when and how to help and be serious and focused on the sets you do.
4. Improper use of “cheat reps & forced reps”
Cheat reps and forced reps are an advanced training technique that allows you to work beyond the normal, through already achieved muscle failure, where you literally push your muscles to grow. Improper use of these techniques can be a potential danger for both the trainee and the spotter.
Cheating, by definition, is dangerous. Every time you use a momentum to accelerate the movement of a repetition (something that allows you to lift more weight than you would when performed with a proper technique), you risk injury.
5. Lifting too often
How is lifting too often associated with injuries? It negatively affects the level of strength and condition of the body. Overtraining is associated with a deficit of energy.
You can’t grow if you are overtraining all the time. Overtraining is also related to the ability of the muscles and the central nervous system to fully recover – ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy in muscle cells) and glycogen reserves are significantly worn when you are in this phase.
In this state, it is not surprising that athletes get injured, especially when trying to lift heavy weights. The solution is to reduce the intensity during the next 3-4 training sessions and the workout shouldn’t last more than 1 hour.
6. Not stretching
Stretching is different than warming up. When properly performed, stretching helps to relax the muscles after a warm-up, before and after training.
As a result of stretching and warming up, the muscle is “warmed up” and ready – the stage where it is most resistant to injuries. Also, if you properly perform a specified stretch of the muscles after the workout, you can speed recovery and reduce fatigue the next day.
7. Improper warming up
Let’s define the terms. Warming up is commonly performed with lightweight, higher reps, low intensity and performed quickly to stimulate blood flow through the muscles.
These quick, easy repetitions raise the temperature of the muscles, reduce blood viscosity and increase the flexibility and mobility. How? We know that a heated muscle is more flexible than a cold, rigid muscle.
A static bicycle, running or an elyptical machine combined with light repetitions are recommended as a form of warming up.
Start with 5-10 minutes of cardio before stretching. If you choose an easy warm up with high repetitions, try with 15-25 easy quick reps successively without interruption on the following exercises – squats, extensions, push-ups, curls and bench with bar / dumbbels.
Do the sets with no rest in between. This can be done in a few minutes and it generally prepares your whole body for the upcoming heavy phase.
8. Negative repetitions
Negative reps are one of the most difficult and dangerous training techniques – but also very effective in stimulating muscle growth. What makes them dangerous?
You may not know this, but a lifter is much stronger while doing the eccentric part of a lift. This means that, in order to feel the full benefits of negative reps you’ll have to load the bar 15-20% more than when you do a normal set.
Of course, heavier weight means increased risk of tears and sprains.
9. Lack of concentration
Fatigue, lack of recovery or any distractions will welcome injury. Watch a professional athlete or a bodybuilder lifting, and you’ll notice their intense levels of concentration.
This characteristic develops over time where the athlete systematically develops mental readiness to focus on the tasks during a given period. More concentration means handling more weight. More controlled weight means more muscle.
But, more weight can lead to injuries if you are not careful. Exercise intensively, but more importantly – exercise smart!