There’s something to love about resistance training – that feeling of growing stronger and being able to lift heavy weights off the ground makes you feel downright invincible! Strength training is a challenge for the mind as much as it is for the body – when done right. Any fitness pro or any athlete worth their salt will tell you that doing your exercises properly is the number one priority. Safe and effective training means no injuries like torn tissues or pulled muscles or worse, and faster and better growth. Here we take a look at some top tips for a safe and effective workout!
Warm-Up and Cool Down
Too little attention is given to the importance of warming up and cooling down your body before and after your workout. Stretching your muscles is so important for avoiding injury and also for getting the most work out of your muscles for your workout. Cooling off is probably even more neglected than warming up, but it is essential for rapid recovery after the gym. Muscles aren’t made in the gym; they’re made in recovery!
Focus On Form
Proper form is of the utmost importance when you perform any type of exercise. Improper alignment of your body and even the slightest of errors in posture can actually cost you. Smooth movements are key. Poor form is simply asking for trouble, and you may find yourself injured and unable to go to the gym for weeks or months all because of not doing an exercise properly. Forget about weights when starting out –just perfect your form, even if it means using empty bars! Concentrate on every motion in your body and also on your posture at all times.
Watch Your Tempo
While there are two schools of thought when it comes to tempo, where one school is supportive of slow tempo and the other of higher tempo, either way, you have to have a mind-muscle connection in order to see gains and feel gains from your workout. A good way to make sure you’re at a good tempo when lifting is to count to three when you lower the weight, which extends the time under tension for your muscle, translating into growth! A well-placed pause can add additional time under tension, really helping you feel that good burn.
So many people wind up holding their breath when they’re working out, which is not a good thing! Your body and your muscles really require oxygen during your routine. A good habit to develop when it comes to breathing is to exhale as you go against the resistance and to inhale as you return to your starting position or as you release.
By increasing your resistance even by a pound or two every time you train or whenever you feel that you still have energy after you complete a set, you are challenging your muscles, causing them to grow and become stronger. You know that you’re on the right weight when you complete the last two sets of your exercise with good form but you can feel that your muscles are tired out. As long as the last two tire you, you’re good to go!
We’ve already mentioned that muscles don’t grow in the gym. All the muscle growth actually takes place out of the gym when you rest. This is why recovery is so important for muscle growth. Your rest between exercising the same muscle group should be at a minimum of 48 hours. In the gym, you work hard to cause tiny tears across your muscles, and you need to eat well and keep hydrated in your rest days in order to recover for your next session. Eat adequate protein even during your rest days so that your muscles aren’t starved. Don’t skimp on your food intake or else your muscles won’t have enough nutrition to grow!
It simply isn’t worth your time and effort to invest in a workout that you aren’t performing properly because you’re cutting yourself short. In the long run, improper training can lead to long term problems and when it’s too late to recover from the damage, there’s no point crying over it! So follow our top tips for a safe workout and make sure you’re getting the maximum out of every rep!