There’s a reason every gym has first aid supplies. Some even have a defibrillation machine on site. Exercise is essential for staying healthy, but when people overdo it, workouts can become dangerous, especially if you’re lifting weights.
Failing to follow essential safety measures and best practices can put yourself and others at risk in the weight room. To make sure your workouts are healthy rather than hazardous, keep these essential safety tips in mind each time you hit the weights.
Wear Proper Workout Attire
At some point we’ve all cringed at the sight of a person in the gym lifting weights while wearing sandals. What you wear has a huge impact on safety. The ideal work out attire includes comfortable clothing that allows for full range of motion, tennis shoes that are tightly laced and gloves if you prefer not to develop callouses.
Train for Your Current Physical Condition
When people are motivated and eager to improve their physique, they often train based on the body they want, not the body they currently have. This is often the case for aging bodybuilders who are trying to train the way they did a decade or two ago.
Age-related physiological changes, lack of stamina, previous injuries, etc., all play a critical role in putting together a safe weight lifting regimen. In other words, you have to train for your current physical condition. If not you risk serious injury by overtraining and straining muscles, tendons and joints.
Use Proper Technique
Bodybuilders that fail to use proper technique are the most at risk for injury. For example, doctors have noted that tendonitis is a common injury among weight lifters who use improper techniques. Another reason to use proper technique is that it works the muscles, not your joints and tendons. You may not be able to do as many reps, but with proper technique you’ll get more out of each one and see results quicker.
One of the keys to proper technique is going slow and not using momentum. Each rep should be controlled and smooth without any jerking. A good guideline is to lift in two to three seconds and lower in three seconds.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Spotters are a weight lifter’s best friend. There’s absolutely no shame in asking a fellow weight lifter to help you out so that proper technique can be used and there’s no risk of dropping the weights. It’s also important to ask for assistance if you don’t know how a machine works.
Get Warmed Up With Light Weights
No matter what type of exercise you’re doing, warming up is one of the easiest ways to prevent injuries. We all know it, but there’s still a large portion of weight lifters that skip this step and head right for a bench.
When it comes to weight lifting, you’ll want to start by:
This warm up will help raise your core temperature, lubricate the joints and keep the muscles flexible. After the warm up use the pyramid technique – make the first set lighter weights with more reps and then increase the weight and lower the rep count for your next set.
Be Aware of Your Weights
Most weight lifting safety precautions are focused on making sure parts of your body don’t get crushed. This starts with being hyperaware of your weights – where they are in relation to your body, how they are sitting, whether they are properly secured, etc. Any time you can use additional safety features like collars to secure plates and engaging stops on machines, do so.
Give Yourself Enough Recovery Time
Recovery is just as important as the workout itself in regards to injury prevention. Even top athletes need to give muscles 72 hours to recover, which is why workouts should focus on one muscle group at a time. If you don’t give your body enough rest and recovery time, little by little the effects will add up.
Here again you must keep your current physical condition in mind. Studies have shown that older athletes can’t recover as quickly as their younger counterparts. You have to listen to your body and avoid lifting when you feel sore, strained or fatigued.
No matter what age you are, getting eight hours of sleep each night is crucial for recovery. During deep sleep our body goes to work repairing muscles and joints. This is also the time when the brain recovers from the fatigue of the day so that you can stay sharp and focused on hitting your goals.