Lifting weights at the gym can be incredibly helpful in terms of getting healthy and building muscle. But, it can also lead to injury. There are a number of tips I’ve learned from personal experience that can help reduce the risk of injury.
Whether you are lifting weights to even out your muscles or to improve your physical fitness, these eight tips will help you achieve your goals without injuring yourself. Check out our guide to avoid injury while lifting weights and building muscle.
Tips for Building Muscle While Avoiding Injury
Building muscle is a process that requires patience. It will take time before you notice any positive physical changes in your body. But, with the right training techniques, you can increase your muscle mass over time and gain strength. Here are some tips to help you avoid injury while building muscle:
1) Warm up properly before training
The best way to prevent injury is to warm up adequately before training. Stretches and light cardio such as stationary biking or walking on a treadmill for 5-10 minutes are a great way to get muscles ready for their workout. This helps prevent injury due to the cold muscles contracting too quickly and straining a muscle or tendon.
2) Train smart and heavy
This means performing exercises that work multiple muscles at once and focus on large compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses to target multiple muscle groups in your upper body. Avoid isolation exercises such as bicep curls and leg extensions unless using them as finishers at the end of your workout to really fatigue the targeted muscle group.
3) Use full range of motion during the exercise – Building Muscle
This helps ensure you are working out the targeted muscle group by moving through its complete range of motion during each rep of an exercise. Avoid doing partial reps where you do not move the weight through its complete range of motion.
4) Rest and recover after lifting more weight than normal
For example, if you’ve been using a certain weight for bench presses for 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 8 reps per set, increase the weight by 5 pounds for the next workout and stick with 8 reps per set to give your muscles time to adapt to new demands and avoid undue strain on your joints.
5) Give muscles enough time to repair themselves between workouts
For example, if you’ve been doing 1 upper-body workout per week and have noticed that your arm muscles are sore 7 days later, increase frequency so that you’re working.
6) Rest is a part of this plan
One thing that makes people think they need to take breaks between weightlifting sessions is the notion that muscle fibers are broken down in the gym and need time to repair themselves. This is not true — muscle fibers are actually broken down during exercise, then rebuilt bigger and stronger during the rest period. So, you can go for a workout one day and then do another the next day without any sort of break in between.
7) Avoid overtraining
This is when you work out so much that you actually wear yourself down and make it more difficult to recover from your workouts. Your body needs rest so it can repair itself from all the training you’re giving it, and if you’re working out too much, your body won’t have time to do that. Overtraining can lead to injuries because this lack of rest means your muscles aren’t getting stronger, just weaker.
8) Make sure you’re training at a suitable level for your current fitness level
Starting off too big or too fast can result in an injury that could sideline you for weeks. It’s better to start small and work your way up than it is to attempt a heavy weight too soon and risk serious injury.
Final Thoughts about Building Muscle
In the end, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, you should always be sure to warm up before you lift. This isn’t only important for building muscle—it also helps prevent injury. Next, know your limits. If you aren’t feeling well or something feels off, you should stop and save the rest of your workout for another day. Finally, stretch! Stretching may seem like a tedious task, but it’s incredibly helpful in preventing injury while making you more flexible.