Train Smart - Especially When Strength Training
Nov 19, 2011 - 2:12:35 PM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - When we strength train using either free weights, machines or our own body weight as resistance, a few tips are in order not to just reap the benefits, but to avoid an injury. These tips apply to all of us, but they are even more important for beginners, weekend warriors, seniors and for those of us who already have an existing or previous injury!
Now, I'm prompted to write this tip because today I witnessed a woman strength training with a trainer using a ballistic movement. Call me a purist when it comes to strength training and you would be right. Strength training involves controlled movements unlike athletic training. This 120 pound woman was swinging a 25- pound dumbbell from her hip to over her shoulder. It was quite an effort since she was using her whole body in a swing motion to aid her lift. Okay, while some may disagree, this type of movement with a relatively heavy weight proportionately, is a set -up for either an acute injury, or a shoulder replacement in 15 years if she continues this type of training. Might I add that while this woman is strong, she is not an athlete.
Ballistic movements do have their place as in athletic training where power is required for a sport, but I certainly do not recommend it as a way to train smart for toning, strengthening, and overall shaping up. Lastly, I am in favor of lifting heavy as I have for over 2 decades myself, just not swinging the weights. Okay, so here goes a few tips to apply when we strength train.
To Train Smart, let's
Always warm up with cardio first. 5 or 10 minutes of an aerobic exercise will raise our core body temperature and thus raise the temperature of our muscles. This will make our muscles and tendons ready for action.
Always warm up the target muscle group first. Let's always start with a light weight to warm the specific muscle, muscle group and joint we are about to target. Let's start with a light weight and pump out 12-15 reps just to warm them up. Even if we do only one set, let's start with a warm up set first.
Focus. All exercise requires focus to be effective, which includes a need to watch our form and body position by looking at ourselves in the mirror. This isn't vanity! Of course we want to also focus on feeling the working muscles.
Not over-lift. Let's not increase our weights drastically or too quickly from one workout to the next; let's monitor our response from our last workout and our overall ability each workout. Don't feel so great? Use light weights for that session. Let's alternate the type of training often, which may mean performing exercises with a heavy weight load with low reps one session, and a light weight load with high reps the next.
Breathe! It's common for many of us to hold our breath even for a moment without realizing it when we lift weights. This happens more frequently when we perform certain exercises and especially when we lift using our heaviest weights. Holding our breath can cause a high internal pressure in our chest cavity (a very unhealthy thing), so please let's BREATHE.
Use Full Range of Motion. Each muscle and muscle group attaches to a joint, which has a range of movement. So, for instance, when we do a bicep curl, let's start with our arm fully extended and curl the weight until our elbow is fully bent; then let's return the weight slowly to a full extension (never snap elbow). The idea is to not shorten the movement. We may need to reduce the amount of weight we are using when we try to execute a full range of movement. When we perform the exercise using a full range of motion, it enhances our flexibility by allowing our tendons to retain their elasticity (shortening the movement may tighten our tendons over time).
Slow Down. The faster we perform each movement, the more we use momentum as an aid. Ever see someone at the gym performing repetitions at the speed of lightening with a bounce at the end of each movement? This is usually the reason they can lift more weight, that is by using momentum. However, not only do we increase our risk for injury, but we make the exercise less effective.
Past injuries can also make us vulnerable to a future injury, so I like to make the analogy, "It's like just getting over a cold; we're vulnerable to a relapse if we're not careful". We might consider keeping up with any rehab exercises we did after a past injury, and in fact I like to recommend to do so as a warm up as well.
So, if we train smart, we will achieve more with less injuries and isn't this the point?
Want help with your exercise and weight goals? Contact us for information on the new "10-week Personalized Get- in- Shape" Programs by emailing me or go http://www.junefit.com/serviceshp.htm Offered also are "Personal Exercise Only" Programs designed to strengthen, condition, increase flexibility, and more with Ed Irace! Services provided in NYC, and nationally through Skype web service, email and phone when appropriate.
Here's to Smart Strength Training!
June M. Lay M.S.
For those over 40 or with medical considerations, please see your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Enjoying my tips? Get a head start thinking about a New Year weight loss goal with my book. Here's the link to Amazon, http://www.amazon.com:80/Its-Not-Diet-Creative-Eating/dp/1432743597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259605985&sr=1-1
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