It might be
hard to imagine, but body builders occasionally die in gym-related
accidents. More go to the hospital with serious injuries brought
on by unsafe workout practices. An injury can set you back months
or even years in reaching your body building goals. Luckily, body
building injuries are easy to prevent. Here are eight things you
need to know about body building safety.
up is crucial. If you get to the gym and jump right into your
workout, you risk straining and tearing your muscles. Warm up
with five or ten minutes of light cardio-this will get your blood
flowing and raise your body temperature. Don't forget to stretch-if
you don't, your muscles will shorten over time, making them more
vulnerable to tears and overextension. Then do 15 to 20 reps of
each exercise on a light weight before using your maximum weight-just
to get your body used to doing the exercise correctly. If you
do each exercise under light weight first, you're much more likely
to have good form when you do it under heavier weight.
should be perfect. Bad form is one of the most common causes
of injury at the gym. If you're not using the correct form, you
risk tearing muscles, popping joints, and other physical disasters.
Be absolutely sure you know what it feels like to do each exercise
using perfect form before attempting it under heavy weight. If
you're not sure, ask the pros at your gym or book a session with
too much weight. Remember, the point isn't lifting the heaviest
weights possible; the point is building muscle efficiently and
safely. If the weight you're lifting is so heavy you have to cheat
on form to lift it, you're risking serious injury. If you're working
out without a spotter, you also risk serious injury or even death
if you drop an extremely heavy weight at the wrong time-which
is possible even if you're not using perfect form.
with a partner. If you can, bring a partner to the gym. Your
partner can help spot you on free weight exercises, and can also
help you maintain proper form through all your exercises. A partner
can help you lift a heavy weight if you find your form is slipping,
allowing you to continue to lift safely. If you don't have someone
willing to be your regular gym partner, ask someone at the gym
to spot you for more difficult exercises-especially if you're
at the end of your workout and you're already fatigued. This is
the time when injuries are most likely to happen.
trainer. Some body builders feel they shouldn't have to ask
for help from a trainer-but nobody knows everything about body
building automatically. A professional trainer can be even more
valuable than a workout partner who may or may not know how to
help you keep correct form. A trainer can help you monitor your
form, decide when it's time to increase your weight load, and
warm up sufficiently. It's definitely worth it for body builders
to book at least a few sessions with a trainer early in their
body building career, as well as periodically throughout to ensure
they're working out effectively.
If you're spending more than an hour at the gym and going more
than three times a week, you may be overtraining. The same goes
for reps-if you're exercising to muscular failure after ten reps,
you risk injury if you rest and then do ten more. Many new body
builders believe they have to spend hours at the gym or go each
day of the week to make progress, but in fact they can lose muscle
this way-and they don't allow their bodies to recover from previous
workouts, making muscle tears more likely.
measures on equipment. Many exercise machines have safety
catches that will prevent the weight from falling on you if you
lose your grip. Sometimes they have to be set by hand, so make
sure you know how to set the safety catches on the machines at
your gym-and then use them. Always use a spotter on difficult
free weight exercises, and if you don't have a partner, use a
self-spotting apparatus when lifting free weights. You can easily
lose your grip and drop a heavy weight on yourself, especially
if you've been working out for a while and your muscles are fatigued.
This is one of the most common ways body builders risk serious
injury or even death.
You don't just risk injury when you lift weights with improper
form. You also put yourself at risk when you're lifting large
plates to increase the weight on your barbells. These plates can
be over a hundred pounds-and it's easy to pull a muscle just adding
more weight to a bar. When you lift anything heavy, make sure
you use your legs to lift-don't rely on your back.
should help you become stronger and healthier-not put you in the
hospital. Still, it's not unusual for body builders to injure
themselves on the way to building muscle-almost every body builder
will make a serious, injury-causing mistake at some point. Don't
learn body building safety the hard way-make sure you warm up
before every workout, use the correct amount of weights, and never
deviate from correct form. Seek professional help and work out
with a spotter, and always use the safety catch on exercise machines
that have them. If you do, you're much less likely to injure yourself
at the gym.
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.