Okay picture it! Local gym, September 23rd, and you've finally made the decision to actually do it this time. You've tried time and time again, but life seems to have it's way of just slowing you down and stopping your drive to continue. You've created your account for the gym, connected your login for easy access, have your new bright red locker lock to make sure you can find it, and your preworkout is already in your bottle. A small grin of accomplishment draws across your face while you parade through the various gun metal gray machine, bright lights, and vibrant music. As you look over to your right, you see someone who should be in the World's Strongest Man Competition, bench pressing what looks like at bare 1000 pounds EASY, and from fear, you think to yourself, "man with one false move, he can really be done for".
Who knew that you were right. It's an awesome and life changing choice to join a new gym, stick to a realistically challenging routine, maintain a healthy balanced nutrition plan, and to actually follow through, but also something just as important as all of those is to be sure to practice good safety habits, and injury preventative actions. Below I'll pinpoint a few of the areas I feel would be helpful to make sure you push to your highest limit, but also prevent yourself from hurting yourself in the process.
Having Incorrect Form
We've had a blog post before that targeted perfecting perfect form, but I believe that this is so important that I can never reiterate this enough. After going to the gym for a while, you'll notice some shaky and sometimes downright scary form techniques that can make you cringe and want to yell out STOP. "Incorrect technique can pull, rip or wrench a muscle or tear delicate connective tissue quicker than you can strike a match. An out-of-control barbell or stray dumbbell can wreak havoc in an instant." If you don't put this advice as top of your priority list, there's a good chance that you can either throw your back out, sprain your ankle, break a bone, or even worse. That's why it's best to strive to become a perfectionist with form. It's try that once you start to life heavy, there's some leeway with movement and form, but if you practice correct technique in the beginning, you won't stray too far from the center or correction which will limit your chances of injuring yourself.
That's Way Too Heavy
Let's take a look at the World's Strongest Man guy from the beginning for the story. You remember that he had nearly a million pounds on his bench press machine, but for him, he's been training for years to get the results and the strength to push without injuring himself. However, can you imagine if he tried to push that same weight towards the beginning of his weightlifting career? How tragic would that be? Sometime people, especially let their ego and pride get in the way of realistically understanding what their goal is, and how they plan on reaching it. "What's too much: If you can't control a weight on its downward, loading trajectory; if you can't contain a movement within its biomechanical boundaries; and if you have to jerk or heave a weight in order to lift it." If you experience any of these, you'll quickly understand that these weights definitely have a mind of their own.
Bad Warm Up
"Let's define our terms: A warm-up is usually a high-rep, low-intensity, quick-paced exercise mode used to increase blood flow to the muscles." Now that we got the basis of what it means to warm up, the next question is why? What's the point of warming up? Why can't I just jump right into it especially when I already know what I'm doing? Warming muscles with blood flowing and pumping through them more rapidly makes the muscle more elastic thus preventing more muscle injury. A stiff muscle is more likely to cause injury or pain during or after your workout. With this being said, it's best to have a quick 5-10 minute warm before stretching.
It's funny whenever we mention nutrition, people tend to shy away and hide their secret stash of cookies they have buried away in their room. However, nutrition is one of the most important aspect to achieving your fitness goals. If you under-eat and continue to push heavier and heavier, you have a greater risk of injuring yourself. If you know you're dieting or have a specific regimen that fits your lifestyle, it's best and smart to lower your weight and increase, or to focus on time under tension which is when you do your reps at a lower weight extremely slowly. These techniques, will still give you the push that your muscles need to be engaged, but it also reduces the strain on your muscles.