Intense training and injuries can go hand in hand, fortunately it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prevent all of your injuries by following some simple guidelines and common sense. Below you will find the most important tips to make sure you can progress quickly and safely.
1) Warm-up before your first set!
Obvious, but so much people skip the warm-up. Some people warm up with light weights on the first exercise set, but that’s not nearly enough. You don’t want to risk. Plus warm-up should take just 7-10 minutes. After that you can go and start with your first exercise. Here is a good warm-up routine – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q52_IF-qoDc
2) Don’t stretch before the workout.
Stretching cold muscles could easily lead to injury, especially if you are stretching heavily. So if you are a fan of stretching, do it after completing each body part or in the end of your training session. That’s when you can benefit from additional muscle growth caused by stretching.
3) Use proper gym clothes and shoes.
You can’t exercise in jeans, just forget it! It’s unbelievable that few people still do it. Just use any type of sports clothes that allow moving freely and you will be fine. You also cannot wear flip-flops, sandals or anything else that has open toes. Heavy plate, dumbbell or even barbell will eventually drop on your toes and you will be glad you didn’t wear flip-flops. Sports shoes with solid soles are a must. They will help with stability in such exercises like squats, deadlifts and many others.
4) Use wraps and belt when you are lifting maximum weights.
These will prevent a lot of injuries. Do not neglect powerlifting belt when doing heavy deadlifts, squats, barbell rows, and other demanding exercises – lower back injury can leave you helpless for weeks. Elbow wraps are good too. If you are feeling painful discomfort in your elbows in any of the exercises – use the wraps, you will be glad you did. Same goes for wrist wraps and knee wraps, they could be necessary. However, don’t rely on wraps too much, your tendons must be getting stronger with every training. So use them in moderation. Powerlifting belt can be used as much as you want.
5) Use a spotter for your heaviest sets.
Failing to comply with this rule can lead to heavy injuries and embarrassing accidents. Do you really need it? Plus there is always someone in the gym you can ask for help, unless you’re training in a cave, alone.
6) Use proper technique and speed.
This is very important. Lousy technique and jerking the weights is definitely one of the leading injury causes. Learn the technique properly either from the videos or from an experienced bodybuilder or trainer (preferred). Get used to it and when you feel confident you can move onto heavier weights. Make sure someone can check your technique, because it’s hard to judge it from first point of view, even with mirrors everywhere. Speed is crucial factor too. Generally, the faster you do it, the bigger risk of injury really is. Jerking movements could be really bad unless you are advanced bodybuilder and you know exactly what you’re doing (you can see some professionals jerk their weights a lot). That’s why the movement should be even from start to finish. That means if you’ve chosen one speed, you do it with same speed throughout the whole motion.
Find even more tips in part 2 of the guide – “11 tips for injury prevention in bodybuilding, part 2“.