Listen, if you want to get big, you have to train big. Entering to the gym and simply going through the motions without a sweat just isn’t going to get the job done. You have to overload those muscles with heavy weight and high intensity if you want to see real results. This is without a doubt the most effective means of stimulating muscular growth. Muscles grow due to a natural adaptive survival response, and if you don’t give them a damn good reason to grow, well, they won’t.
While training hard and heavy may be awesome for your muscles, it can be trouble for the health of your joints and connective tissue. This is simply the reality of intense weight training, and while there are no guarantees that you will be able to completely avoid getting injured, you can certainly take specific steps to lessen the chance. An injury is the absolute last thing you could ever hope for, as it will stop you dead in your muscle-building tracks. Most serious weightlifters will experience some form of injury at one time or another throughout their training careers.
Down below I’m going to outline my “5 golden rules” when it comes to minimizing the risk of injury. If you can honestly say that you implement all 5 of these into your training program, then your risk of getting hurt will be much lower than someone who does not.
1) Always perform a thorough warmup.
A proper warmup is the single best thing you can do to minimize your risk of injury. This simple 15-20 minute process will prepare your mind and body for the hard work to come by increasing blood flow into the surrounding connective tissue and by lubricating your joints. I would recommend that you perform 5 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise before each workout followed by 4-5 warmup sets for your first major exercise of the routine.
2) Always train with proper form.
This should go without saying. Every exercise that you perform in the gym should be done with proper form and technique in order to keep the stress off of your joints. If you start squatting or deadlifting with a rounded back, jerking the weights around in a ballistic manner or performing dangerous exercises you are almost guaranteed to hurt yourself at some point.
3) Always train within your own personal limits.
Weightlifting is a personal battle, and letting your ego take over is almost always a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t matter what the guy next to you is benching and it is completely irrelevant to your training program. You must always use weights that you can handle and control with proper form, and if you start piling on the plates to impress the people around you, you’ll be stretching your limits and putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.
4) Always know when to quit.
If you cannot complete another rep of an exercise using proper form, the set is over, plain and simple. Put the weight down and rest up for your next set. If you start using huge amounts of momentum and jerky body motions to crank out a couple of extra reps, you’ll be on the sidelines before you know it.
5) Never ignore your aches and pains.
This is a hugely important point and I think we can all admit that we’ve all been guilty of it at some point. I know I have. When you’re motoring along through a training program and are making progress from week to week, the idea of quitting just seems impossible. This can sometimes lead us to ignore those obvious injuries and pretend as if they aren’t really there as we often “work through” the pain and hope that it magically disappears. More often than not, it will only get worse. If you feel that something definitely isn’t right and can sense that you probably shouldn’t be training, listen to your gut and take some time off. Get the problem checked out by a professional and then take the proper measures to heal. While it may hurt your progress in the short term, the overall long-term effect will be a positive one.
So there you have it, 5 basic rules to follow in the gym to keep those joints healthy and to keep you training for years on end. Follow them closely, because I guarantee that if you end up with an injury due to your own bad judgment, you’ll be very, very sorry..