There’s a difference between hurt and injured.
When hurt with an ouchie, you can still push through the pain (you just have to toe the line between not being a pussy and not being a dumb fuck). An injury is something else.
Whether it’s from something traumatic like blowing out your knee by trying to squat too much fucking weight or from something cumulative like being a genius and still doing skullcrushers despite weeks of serious elbow pain, getting sidelined with an injury blows. That’s time you have to take off from training a muscle in order for it to heal.
That’s lost gains, dammit!!!
And we can’t have that! Nope, not at all!
Because a muscle doesn’t grow if it isn’t regularly introduced to loads that force the body to adapt and because going to the gym kinda sorta helps make that happen, preventing exercise injuries should be a priority for everyone, no matter their training experience.
So here are some things you can do to stay injury-free and keep your ass in the gym — besides, of course, you not using too much fucking weight (#6) and perhaps displaying that you have a fucking brain (#7).
Before working out, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes to get blood into the muscles. Doing cardio, light weight training, or dynamic stretching beforehand helps make the muscles more flexible, reducing the all too real possibility of them splintering into a million fragments like the liquid nitrogen covered T-1000 Terminator…all because you chose to lift with cold muscles.
Work all the muscle groups. Spend as much time and effort training the D-list muscles as you do the major Hollywood ones. The reason for this is simple. Besides going a long way to make you look proportionate, preventing muscular imbalances helps lessen injuries and other issues by stopping the agonist muscle from overpowering its weaker opposing antagonist.
In other words, for example, if you ignore your rear delts but do a shitload of pressing movements for the front delts because you mistakenly think that’s how you get boulder shoulders, the odds are high that you (will eventually) have bad posture, pain in the rotator cuff, or some other shoulder problem.
Hate leg day? Train them anyway. Strengthening the posterior chain (i.e. the back of the legs or, if you wanna be pretentious, the glutes and hamstrings) can go a long way to preventing knee and lower back pain. On top of that, training the lower body has been shown to have positive carry over in upper body development, as well as increasing post-exercise lipid oxidation and the post-exercise metabolic rate, both of which are kinda good things if you’re interested in burning fat.
Don’t sweat the technique? How about you not taking your lifting advice from Eric B. & Rakim. It’s not the fucking Reagan era! Correct execution of exercise movements can help minimize the risk of strains, sprains, and totally snapping some body part in half or completely rending off an extremity.
But you like living life on the wild side, huh? Well, since you do this fitness shit for vanity purposes, consider that the use of proper form by contracting the target muscle — and nothing else — to actually lift the weight and move it through a full range of motion can also result in greater gains.
Don’t overtrain. A lot of people, especially newbies, are in the gym all day every day. It seems intuitive that the more frequently you work out the more results you’ll see. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
WARNING: Reading on may very well give you flashbacks to when you found out that Santa Claus isn’t real (oops, are you just finding this out?! Well, tough cookies. The red-suited fat man who gets around by way of flying reindeer and criminally enters homes by sliding down teeny-tiny chimney holes is about as real as the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are, lies told by your parents and many the world over because they’re sociopathic liars who get off on toying with childish ignorance).
Contrary to popular belief, the body doesn’t grow in the gym. It does that OUTSIDE, where it recovers and repairs itself to become stronger as a defensive response to it being beaten down by the workouts (were they intense enough). Placing continuous stress on the body and not giving the joints, bones and muscles, as well as the nervous system, ample time to recuperate is a recipe for disaster. Some of the results of overtraining include sickness, general fatigue, disturbed sleep, and appetite suppression, loss of motivation, decreased strength and endurance, and impaired movement and coordination, all of which play a role in injury or missing time away from the gym for other reasons.
The best way to stop overtraining from happening? You mean, besides not working out at all?
Well, you can limit training to a handful of days, cut workout length to no more than an hour and learn how to work out more efficiently, maintain a proper diet (and supplement regimen), schedule adequate amount of rest for a body part before you train it again, and plan breaks at least every six weeks to either deload or take time off.
Handling more weight than you can manage is very much related to the use of proper form. It presents itself in the excessive swinging of the entire body to perform an exercise movement, a common sight in any gym across the land. This not only robs you of gains as other muscles are recruited while the target muscle bears less of the workload, but over-the-top body English increases the chance of torquing something that shouldn’t be torqued.
What’s too much fucking weight? Too much fucking weight is when you can’t control the weight on the concentric part of the lift without the use of momentum and then exhibit control of the weight as you return it to the starting position. If you can’t do either, then the weight’s too fucking heavy. You’re not the love child of Superman and Wonder Woman, so lighten the load (everyone knows they’ve been totally banging one another since FOREVER, right?).
Listen to your body. Learn how to read it so you know when (1) you shouldn’t do what you’re about to do because you’re about to snap some shit up or (2) you’re just being a pussy looking for a way out. Yeah, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but don’t be a dingbat. Be smart about it.
Hire a personal trainer or coach. If you stop being cheap and thinking that you know it all, a qualified fitness professional (someone like…ummmmm…me) will help you reduce the risk of injury by demonstrating an exercise movement and giving you the cues to perform it properly, with them then providing correction as they watch you perform the exercise yourself.
The road to recovery is a long one. Not only are you out of the gym losing the muscle and strength you worked so hard for, but the time spent on the sideline is time lost not making any new gains.
For many people, coming back from an injury and seeing their body not perform as it once did can be very trying. It often leads to frustration and decreased drive to work out, resulting in them just calling it quits. That’s why preventing exercise injuries is so important. With the above tips and suggestions, you should be able to do just that.