Jerry Brainum explores the top ways to improve your training and prevent injury in the gym.
When performing resistance or weight training in the long term, an injury will most likely occur in your future. It’s simply part of the risk of lifting heavy weight and pushing the body to new limits. However, injuries can be largely mitigated and reduced to less serious damage. How? In our latest episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum breaks down the key tips, techniques, and tactics to reduce your chance of injury during training.
Sometimes a weight training injury is unavoidable. But many times, the injuries we see in the gym can be avoided if better focus and care was taken during a workout. Some of these factors are invisible and health related. Others are direct tactics that can be employed during a workout. In either case, it’s important for lifters to be vigilant about weight training safety. After all, a person could be one serious injury away from never being able to lift weight seriously again.
Let’s break down Jerry Brainum’s key tips and techniques for avoiding injury in the gym below.
Always Use Proper Technique
Form and technique are vital aspects to focus on when you are weightlifting. While some bodybuilders may “bend” technique and form to push their bodies harder, this is the exception and not the norm. Performing an exercise with incorrect form can lead to eventual injury.
Jerry Brainum believes that today’s gym-goers are far less focused on technique. He considers this a shame as technology has provided more resources than ever before right at the tip of our fingers. Yet despite these resources, distractions seem to actually be making form worse.
While this is just an anecdotal observation by Brainum, it’s still important to remain focused, do your research, and always ensure you have perfected exercise form before moving up to heavier weight. If you sacrifice form just to feel proud about moving up to the next weight – you are heading straight towards eventual injury. This leads us into our next tip…
Don’t Lift Too Much Weight, Too Soon
There is a sense of pride in breaking new PRs and lifting more weight than your friends or colleagues in the gym. However, that pride can drive us to lift too heavy, too soon. Typically when we push too far, we sacrifice form. But even beyond this, if your body is not ready to take on such an increased load of weight – the body can bend too far and lead to serious injury.
Don’t Forget To Warm Up & Stretch
Warming up might sometimes seem boring. Especially the more often you exercise and lift. However, warm ups are vital to preventing injury. Before a workout, your muscle tissue will be more “stiff.” A warmup helps flex and loosen the tissue. If you jump straight into heavy weight – that stiffness might lead to your muscles being unprepared for weight you can typically handle. Thus leading to an injury.
Jerry Brainum also discusses the concept of stretching between sets. Is it necessary to keep the muscle tissue flexible? There are two schools of thought on this. Some studies have shown that stretching between sets can actually increase muscle growth. While other studies have questions the validity of those claims.
Jerry Brainum’s suggestion? Stretching between sets will not harm you but it might have a slight chance of improving your workout. So if you want to give it a shot – go for it!
Avoid Bad Spotters At All Costs
A selection of exercises in the gym may require a spotter. A spotter is someone who watches the weight and provides a helping hand when you have maxed out or made an error in your lift. It’s important to ensure that your spotter takes it seriously and pays attention. One distracted moment can lead to an injury.
Some lifters are so focused on making gains that they hit the gym seven days a week for multiple hours a day. This is a mistake as it leads to overtraining. Muscle does not grow during a workout. It grows during rest and recovery. If you do not provide your body time to recover you are not only denying optimized muscle growth – but putting yourself into a situation where you are not fully recovered and therefore may become more easily injured.
Don’t Slack On Nutrition
While this will be less of a problem for competitive bodybuilders, general lifters must be aware of how important nutrition is to fitness. If you are not getting the proper nutrition, your muscle tissue might be weakened. Thus more open to injury. The same can be said for recovery. If vital nutrients for recovery are missing from your diet – then your recovery becomes less optimized. This, of course, means you may not be fully recovered by your next workout and become injured.
Don’t Get Distracted By Your Phone
Unlike the past, there are little computers in our pockets that can now distract us no matter where we are. This includes the gym. But just like how you shouldn’t text and drive, you also shouldn’t text and lift weight. Bother are essentially “operating heavy machinery” and should be treated as such.
Being distracted by your phone can lead to slacking on form, or perhaps slacking on spotting a friend. It can, essentially, lead to lack of focus on the other tips listed in this video and article. So when you come to the gym, put the phone on silent and focus on the workout.
You may notice that many of the items on this list are common sense. But distractions, overeager intentions, and lack of research can lead to these simple techniques being ignored. That’s why Jerry Brainum decided to break down his best tips and techniques for avoiding injury. Once they become second nature – they hardly feel like a task at all.
You can watch Jerry Brainum go into full detail in our latest episode of Straight Facts above. Don’t forget to catch new episodes every Wednesday. Only on Generation Iron and wherever podcasts are downloaded!