If you’re attempting to get rid of those post-isolation kilos, you’re probably tempted to go full steam ahead with your gym membership. While it’s a great idea to get moving and stay in shape, you should be mindful of the many resistance training injuries that could render your efforts useless, particularly after a lay-off period.
Resistance training can transform your body, but it can be dangerous if your technique is not correct. It’s essential to follow the advice and instructions of a medical professional, a physiotherapist or a fitness professional.
Discover the 5 best safety tips for resistance training that will ensure you get the most of your gym session without risking any injuries!
Seek professional advice
If you’re over 40, overweight or have other health issues, you should always get the “stamp of approval” from your GPor physio before you start resistance training. You will most likely undergo a pre-exercise screening to see if your body can handle the effort and find out if the benefits of your fitness goals outweigh the risks.
A cardiac exercise stress test can be performed to measure your heart’s ability to respond to effort in a controlled, safe environment. This test will show you just how fit you are and will also help you set some weight-loss and fitness targets.
A physiotherapist can teach you how to warm up and stretch correctly and how to protect your spine and joints during exercise, which are all essential parts of a healthy training routine.
Finally, a fitness trainer will instruct you on how to maintain a correct posture during exercise and recommend what weights to start with, thus helping you get results and prevent serious injuries.
Warm up before training
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting resistance training is not warming up before the session. An effective warm-up should increase heart rate and body temperature and facilitate blood flow to the muscles being used in the workout. This helps improve elasticity of both the muscles and joints, alerts neural pathways and stimulates muscles in preparation for training.
Start with 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise such as a light jog. This will Increase the blood flow to your muscles, ensuring optimal oxygen flow and improved joint range.
Once you’re done with the cardio warm-up, you should spend at least a few minutes warming up your neuromuscular system, with dynamic stretches and movements related to your planned session. For example if you’re training legs, you could do some warm-up sets of lunges or squats with a light or no weight.
You might be tempted to do some classic static stretches before your workout, but it’s actually not recommended until you finish training ( during the cool down). Prior to a resistance session, static stretching can reduce the muscles’ ability to produce force, reducing the benefits of the workout. Always stretch after the workout to help release tension and relax the muscles.
Know your limit
When you first start out resistance training, you might only be able to lift very light weights and that’s perfectly normal. While it can be a bit intimidating and discouraging to see gym buffs performing superhuman lifts, everyone starts somewhere!
Once your muscles, tendons and ligaments get used to strength training, you will progress much faster. This may take between 6 to 12 weeks. Knowing your limit is the safest way to train! Ensure training loads, intensity, and frequency are planned and progressed gradually.
If you’re not sure what weights to use, always seek advice from a professional trainer.
Wear appropriate clothing
Going to the gym is not about looking great, though sports brands might try to convince you otherwise. The most important things when choosing gym attire are comfort and safety. Choose clothes that do not restrict movement and consider wearing gloves and other protective equipment (especially for joints).
Listen to your body
If you’re sick or very tired, don’t train. Resting for a few days until you recover won’t be a setback, whereas an injury caused by training while unwell can completely derail your progress.
Also remember that muscles need time to recover, because resistance training essentially damages the fibres, which means they need to regenerate and grow. A good rule of thumb is to let muscles rest for at least 24 hours before working on the same muscle group again.
Make sure you keep these tips in mind when starting resistance training. Don’t hesitate to contact our trusted Beechboro Physio to make a booking if you’ve injured yourself while gymming!