Love the gym, but afraid to get hurt? Here's the top 6 ways you could do more harm than good.
Dan Trink C.S.C.S 1 / 7
You go to the gym to look better, get stronger, feel healthier or, at the very least, check out the hot girls training in yoga pants. What you don't want, however, is to walk in the gym fired up for a great session and walk out hobbled from injury. With that in mind, here's a list of the top 6 ways to get hurt in the gym and what you can do to avoid them.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">You're Not Using Good Technique</font></h3>
Nothing is more likely to cause injury than using <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/injury-free-correct-posture... target="_blank">poor form</a>, especially when dealing with the big, compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts and presses. You're number one goal is to always strive for perfect technique, which should be honed through using non-maximal effort lifts. Once your reach technical failure (the ability to complete the rep with perfect form) regardless of the scheduled rep range, end the set. You are better off walking away from a set a few reps short of expectations than not being able to walk away at all.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">You're Lifting Too Much Weight</font></h3>
We're all for ‘going for it’ while training, but if you're using loads that you just can’t handle, the chances are that your form will break down and your risk of injury will go up. A good way to avoid this is to choose loads that allow you to execute one or two more reps than your target range (so if you are shooting for a 5 rep set, choose a load you can lift 7 times). You can still progress and <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/lift-big-the-best-assis... target="_blank">get stronger</a> using this method while keeping the risk of injury to a minimum.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">Your Warm-Up Sucks</font></h3>
Too many athletes walk in the gym, load up the bar and get straight to work. But as you start to develop strength and the weights start to increase, warming up properly should be an essential part of your training routine. Foam rolling or other <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/preventing-rehabilitating-common-ski... target="_blank">myofascial release</a>, dynamic warm-up , activation drills and sub-maximal specific warm-ups should all be used prior to your first work set. Your training session will be much more effective and beneficial and your chances of pulling a cold muscle will be eliminated.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">You're Not Focused</font></h3>
While checking out the forementioned hot girl in the yoga pants or the top play on SportsCenter might be part of the gym experience, these are certainly things that should not be done while you are under the bar. Keep in mind that most sets only last anywhere from 10 to 50 seconds. You’ll have plenty of time to talk to your buddies about your fantasy football picks once the set is over. For now, focus on making every rep a good rep.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">You're Doing The Same Workouts</font></h3>
We get it. You love running on the treadmill. You like the sweat and the stress-reducing effects it has after a long day, but repetitive movements can lead to muscle imbalances which can lead to injuries. Make sure you are incorporating a smart blend of strength training and pre-hab exercises to keep all your muscles healthy and strong. And this strategy is not just limited to runners. If you're getting carried away with bench pressing, your softball league or even your yoga practice, you may be at risk for overuse injuries.
<h3><font color="red" font family="Arial">You're Overdoing The Plyometrics</font></h3>
Plyometrics are simply defined as any exercise that uses the stretch-shortening cycle, which is your muscles and tendons ability to store and release energy. Plyo’s, such as box jumps, bounds, hops and depth jumps have become increasingly popular recently due to their inclusion in boot camps and other group exercise classes. What people fail to realize is how demanding these types of movements are on your structures. It’s critical to start with a limited amount of reps (known as ‘contacts’) and build up as your connective tissue strength improves. So if you're spending an entire hour jumping, bounding and hopping you may be opening yourself up to injury.