Weight training is an essential part of any fitness routine. Not only will it make you faster and stronger, but proper weight training can increase bone density (especially in women), decrease your risk of osteoporosis, improve your cardio performance and make your body mechanics more efficient. However, without the right information it’s also easy to make mistakes in your training that can lead to injury and slow your progress down. Think of it this way, if your body is a machine, then your stomach and core make up the engine. If the engine isn’t strong, then the wheels, your arms and legs won’t be able to work as well.
1. When working with a trainer, choose wisely. A good trainer will know how to motivate you to do your best without pushing you to the point where you might become injured. If you?re choosing a trainer from your gym, watch how they are with their other clients and what they do before you commit. Also, check their credentials and make sure they have a national certification in personal training. You want to work with someone who’s properly qualified to assess your needs and limits.
2. Fuel your body. Stay hydrated with water or a sports drink during your workout, and get some post-workout nutrition in your body like a protein shake. Otherwise your muscles become dehydrated and aren’t able to repair themselves, which may lead to injury. One study showed that dehydration resulted in up to 30% loss of power!
3. Plan ahead. At the start of each week, figure out what days you?re going to do your strength and conditioning routine. Don’t walk into the gym without a plan. When you walk into the gym without a specific program in mind, you start looking at what other people are doing on the weight machines and emulating them. Fitness levels vary widely from person to person, and this can easily cause you to overdo it and injure yourself.
4. Don’t spend a lot of time at the gym. An hour is plenty of time. Beyond that, your workout losses focus and power output, and when you’re overly tired you’re more likely to make mistakes in form that can lead to injury. Also, remember that there are a lot of other ways to strength train besides using weight machines. Many exercises use the natural weight of your body moving against gravity to strengthen and tone your muscles, such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats, and even everyday activities like climbing the stairs and maintaining proper posture when you stand and sit.
If you need a place to start, a qualified fitness professional such as the certified personal trainers at the HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center can teach you how to make the most of your strength and conditioning routine while minimizing your risk of injury. Remember that you should always consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program.