7 tips for a safe and successful strength-training program
Strength or resistance training aims to challenges your muscles, and over time, this helps to increase muscle mass, tones and strength. It also ensures that day to day activities can be achieved with less effort.
Here are seven tips to help to make your strength and resistance training safe and effective:
- Warm up and cool down before and after activity ensures that blood flow is balanced and stable. Stretching can be used as part of your cool down if you wish.
- Focus on form (as this is vital to avoid injury). We see far too many people focusing on the amount of weight they lift. This inevitably leads to overstrain injuries or worse. In turn, people who insist on using the high weight/low form strategy, get frustrated by the periods of rest required to overcome their injuries. So, when you train, ensure that your body is well aligned, and concentrate on slow, smooth lifts, and equally controlled descents (while isolating the muscle group).
- Another factor linked with flow is the pace with which you train. This helps you stay in control and produces a much more effective movement. For those if you who use strength training equipment, please don’t kid yourself (or your friends) by lifting weights far heavier than you should. Especially when you have to revert to momentum to hike the weights up and down. Not only is this painful for mindful gym bunnies to watch, it serves as little more than an ego stroke and a sure pathway to injury.
- Remember to breathe. Holding your breathe can massively increase your intra-abdominal pressure, which is why body builders sometimes blow blood vessels in their eyes!
- Change up the weight. Over the weeks and months, slowly increasing the weight or type of resistance that you use. This will ensure that you’re constantly challenging the muscle groups, which in turn will increase tone and stamina.
- Include everything. Over the past 30 years, I have treated literally hundreds of patients who do what I call “preference training”. This means that they shape their workout around a particular look they want achieve – such as big pecs. The danger with this strategy however, is that over time, the opposing muscle groups get weak and injury prevails. All as a result of compensation patterns. So, it’s all good to want big pecs. Just make sure you have a nice strong upper back too!
- Breaks are also important. Strength and strong resistance training can cause tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful. In fact, they are actually quite important from a muscular training point of view. This is because muscles grow stronger as the micro-tears knit back together. But, it is important to give your muscles (or group of muscles you trained) at least 48 hours to recover before your you train them again.
I hope you found this useful. Happy training 💪🏼