The gym is the perfect place to get in shape and exercise your muscles, but it’s easy to get carried away and injure yourself. Use the following tips to protect your health, prevent injury and to get the most out of your workout. -All American Healthcare Covintgon
Warm up and cool down
Warm up before every workout so you can loosen up your muscles and get your blood flowing. There are a variety of warmups you can do like running on the treadmill, elliptical or even the bike. Warm up for 5-10 minutes and make sure this includes stretching to prevent injury and improve performance. You want to feel loose and ready to move before you start your workout.
It’s also beneficial to end a workout with a cool down and a stretch to prevent soreness and again, prevent injury. Cooling down allows your body to naturally adjust from activity to a state of rest. Check out more benefits below:
- Allows for the safe and gradual return of heart rate, respiration rate, and core body temperature back to pre-exercise levels.
- Reduces the risk of post-exercise cramping or spasm.
- Aids in the prevention of blood pooling, dizziness, and fainting.
- Assists in the removal of waste products such as lactic acid, which can accumulate during vigorous exercise and delay recovery time.
- Assists in the decrease of post-exercise stiffness and muscle soreness.
- May enhance flexibility and facilitate an improvement in the length-tension relationships between muscles.
- May decrease the risk of injury.
- Begins the recovery process, preparing the body for the next workout.
Adjust weight and seating of the machine for proper form
Use good form before you focus on weight. Using poor form not only compromises your workout, but puts you at risk for serious injury. If you are on a seated machine, make sure to adjust the machine to fit your height. If the machine is not fitted properly, you may be putting unnecessary strain on muscles that can result in injury. If you are not sure how to use a machine, don’t be afraid to ask! There is always someone around willing to help, and trust me, its much better to ask and do it right than test your luck and end up injured. Additionally, there will usually be pictures on the side of the machine to show you what muscles you should be working and the proper form to use the machine.
Two common mistakes people make at the gym to compromise form are straining their knees and rounding their back.
- People often put extra stain on their knees when doing lunges and squats. Avoid straining your knees by keeping your knees behind your toes and not pushing your knees forward. Also, keep your knees in line with your toes and straight ahead. Letting your knee face outward can cause damage.
- People also often make the mistake of rounding their back when then are performing bending over exercises, like dumbbell rows. Be sure to keep your back flat or slightly arched. One way to accomplish this is to simply keep your head up!
Keep in mind your goal when you are deciding on the weight to use. There is a difference between weight and repetition. If you want to build muscle, use more weight and do less repetition. If you want to build definition, use less weight and do more repetition. Don’t try and do it all in one sitting. Working out is a process, not a race- so go slow! If you want to get the most out of your workout, move slow against the resistance you feel. This can differ depending on what workout you are doing, but you will always be better off doing 10 slow reps correctly vs. 20 quick movements.
Finally: re-rack your weights when you are done to prevent anyone from tripping over them! If you take a free weight off the shelf, put it back where it came from. This may seem like common sense; yet, a lot of people simply wont do or they forget, and it can become a dangerous obstacle to someone who is not expecting it.
Listen to your body
Overall, your body will tell you how you are doing. Not a machine, not a trainer, only you. So listen to your body. If you feel like you might pull a muscle, stop and stretch. Don’t push through it. Also, be sure to drink water before, during and after your workout. Keep your body hydrated and body fluids up. Signs of dehydration include feeling dizzy and lethargic.