Elite Body Squad ambassador and UKBFF competitor has been sharing some of his top training advice when it comes to avoiding injury. Check out his tips below.
Quite possibly the worst thing that could hinder your progress is picking up an injury. Especially if you’re training for an event or competition. This is why I like to go by the motto ‘prevention is far better than cure’. I myself have suffered numerous injuries over the years, with the worse being a torn bicep and damaged rotator cuff. I need to put in preventive measures to ensure it never happens again and safeguard my progress.
Top of the list in avoiding injury is ensuring you have warmed up correctly. I cannot stress to you enough how important this is, as so many people waltz straight into the gym, get down on the bench and start pushing heavy weights from a cold position. If you were to stand up now from resting, grab one of your ankles from behind and perform a thigh stretch, you will feel your skin grating against your muscle in a slightly uncomfortable way. This is because your blood, muscles and skin are running at different temperatures. Perform the same stretch after warming up, walking on a treadmill or Stairmaster for instance, and you will find that you can go deeper into the stretch without that same uncomfortable feeling.
Breaking into a light sweat is the indication that your body temperature is synchronising with your blood, muscles and skin. This is when you should start stretching and not when you’re cold as you may end up straining or pulling a muscle before starting your workout.
An example of the warm up routine I would do say on chest day would be as follows.
· 10min Stairmaster or Treadmill
· Light dumbbell side/front/rear raises overhead dumbbell press Cable Tricep Pushdowns
· 4 sets of 20 reps on the pressing angle that I desire to start my workout with
· Stretching my chest in between the warm up sets
I have ensured that my body temperature is up to speed, warmed up the most connective joint of any upper body workout your shoulders and finally primed and stretched the target muscle before putting it under load. Not only will this help me prevent injury but ensure that my chest is ready for the intensity I am about to put it under, which in turn will maximise my ability to build muscle and perform at my best.
Listen to your Body
The majority of the time prior to an injury your body will send you clear messages that something isn’t quite right. It may be by way of a slight strain whilst warming up, a niggling pain while pressing or perhaps under recovery of the target muscle from your last workout. Those are just a few examples of the warning signs you need to be aware of. Interpret them and over time and you will gain a knowledge and understanding of how to act accordingly. In my younger years, I used to let my ego get the better of me and ignore the signals. End up putting more weight on the bar, when I have been forewarned during the previous set that I was experiencing a different kind of pain than the feeling from muscle stimulation. Resulting in injuring myself and undoing the progress I had made.
Nowadays I recognise the limitations that my body has put on me and opt for reducing the weight and slowing down the rep tempo to maximise the intensity. If I’m still feeling the uncomfortable pain I would have to make the right decision and end my session, saving myself for another day. That is a very difficult place to be in at times especially if you are preparing for a competition and you’re all fired up for the session. Sometimes, if it is just a niggle, opting for a different exercise may help you overcome and continue your session. Just be smart, be wise and listen to your body and never risk your health.
This usually occurs when using too much weight and you’re unable to control the movement, opting for momentum and recruiting other muscles and putting strain on your connective tissues. As soon as you are unable to control the downward movement of an exercise your body will start shifting the weight on to other muscle groups and putting strain on your joints. Progressive overload is where you need to be when your goal is building muscle but you must always lift within your means. Be at one with your body and know your limitations. As soon as you start squirming during bench press for example and then one shoulder comes off the bench then you are clearly lifting too heavy. You must be able to stay in control of the weight with the target muscle at all times to avoid injury.
In my world, nutrition is the king of kings, not only for giving you optimum performance in your workouts but for recovery as well. When we break down those muscle fibres during exercise you need to feed your body the necessary proteins post workout to kick start the recovery process. Equally, before your workout, you will need to ensure your muscles have adequate glycogen levels from carbs to fuel your workout. Ticking those boxes will help you avoid muscle failure from lack of nutrients during exercise. In addition, it is vitally important to stay hydrated all day and especially during your workout because your body will try to shut down causing injury.
You should always have at least one day of rest a week from your fitness regime. There may also be times when you’re feeling sore and tired and need an additional day off. You just need to understand your limitations as it could result in overtraining, pushing you towards a plateau.
I can’t stress enough that prevention is far better than cure. Never risk your health and ultimately do all you can to safeguard your progress.