How To Avoid Injuries At The Gym – Best Advice
In this article I will be providing my best advice for how to avoid injuries at the gym. These are all based on my experience over the years, whilst it is impossible to avoid all injuries you can avoid many of them. My aim is to provide actionable advice in this article that you can apply in your own training to drastically reduce your risk of getting injuries. It has to be said as well that many injuries are completely avoidable.
Hydrating properly is critical when it comes to avoiding a lot of strains and tears at the gym. A good friend of mine tore his pec a while ago from not being properly hydrated when he was training. If you have a very active lifestyle and sweat a lot it is even more important to ensure you drink lots of water before and during training. Increasing your sodium intake on training days can also help you to avoid some strains. Dehydration has also been shown to prolong and worsen DOMs after a workout. Taking a big bottle of water with you to the gym is a must and be sure to sip on it regularly. I personally drink Yanga sports water throughout my workouts – it contains vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6 and B8.
Warming Up Thoroughly
Again this sounds like common sense. But remember that common sense is not all that common. I still see people at the gym lifting their max weights without doing a sufficient warm up. For barbell movements start with an empty bar or just a plate, then work up. At lighter weights perform higher reps to get blood into the muscles. As the weight gets heavier lower the reps in order to conserve energy for your top set.
Also a general warm up before you even start is recommended for bigger exercises. For instance, before benching it is good to use resistance bands to warm up the shoulders and rear delts. Doing some light dumbbell exercises for the rotator cuffs can be very useful as well to keep your shoulders healthy long term. Before squats it is a good idea to do the squat stretch and do a few sets of bodyweight squats to fully warm up the leg muscles. Sometimes I use the stationary bike before doing leg exercises to warm up the lower body.
Listen To Your Body
One of the best things you can do to prevent injuries in the gym is “listening to your body”. What this means is whenever something feels off in the gym or you feel a niggle on an exercise don’t ignore it. A good example in my case was when I was doing heavy leg presses the other week. I felt a slight niggle in my left adductor as I was performing my leg press. So I did extra warm ups and when doing heavier weights I didn’t shove my knees out too much when going down. That would put too much strain on the adductors. I have strained my left adductor in the past doing very heavy dumbbell bulgarian split squats at home during the lockdown. That made me realise that I shouldn’t go too heavy on that exercise and instead do higher reps with it.
Therefore I don’t perform that exercise heavy anymore and now I do bulgarian split squats using resistance bands instead of dumbbells as an accessory exercise for legs. It is paramount that if an exercise causes you lots of pain to ease off it and find another exercise that feels better. You are not forced to perform any exercise that doesn’t suit you. By performing exercises that you can do without pain you will prolong your bodybuilding journey and be able to make more progress long term. Since I hurt my back many years ago, doing one arm dumbbell rows cause me pain so I don’t do these. Instead I do dumbbell rows sometimes using both arms at the same time, hammer strength machine rows and machine chest supported rows.
Take Care When Doing New Exercises
From my experience, injuries often happen when you try out new exercises that you are not accustomed to. A good example of this was recently I saw a video of a bodybuilder doing hammer curls on a preacher curl bench. I am used to doing normal hammer curls, I tried this variation and did 14kg dumbbells for 8 reps. However I found that this exercise put a lot of strain on the brachioradialis. What you should do when trying a new exercise is to start off very light with it to get a feel for it. So I should have tried this exercise with lighter 8kg dumbbells to see how it felt first.
As an extension to this is doing silly things in the gym that you don’t normally do. This is a great way to get injured. Things like trying a one rep max bicep curl for example. Four years ago a well known bodybuilder by the name of Callum Von Moger tore his bicep tendon doing a joint 405lb barbell curl with Chris Bumstead. This is another example of why ego lifting is bad and can drastically increase your chances of needless injuries. If you happen to be training with someone stronger than you they can egg you on and try to make you push your capabilities too much. You have to know what your limits are and not push yourself too far outside of them.
In this article I have discussed how to avoid injuries at the gym. I have provided actionable steps from ensuring proper hydration, adequate warm ups, listening to your body and taking care when performing new exercises for the first time. In conjunction with this, checking your ego when lifting weights will serve you in good stead long term and allow you to keep making progress. Nothing kills progress faster than injuries, instead of taking steps forward you can take many steps backwards. If you have any questions about the advice I have given in this article, please leave me a comment below. I would love to engage in a good discussion with you about this. Also if you have anything to share regarding injuries you have experienced at the gym and how they arose please leave a comment.