At different points in our lives, we all can feel the need to exercise more and get into better physical shape. But just as with any new activity, it can be easy for anyone to make mistakes; over-exertion or wrong application of that good initial intent can lead to injury and a loss of motivation. Here are some best practices to ensure that you go about exercising safely and sustainably.
Observe proper form
For any exercise, there is a recommended way of doing it – and the rationale behind this proper form is that it allows you to engage all of the muscles which are necessary to execute that movement. Beginners tend to obsess about the big muscles, like biceps or quads, but small or hidden muscles are just as important. Any auto manufacturer in Wisconsin knows that even small irregularities in helical gears can impede performance or mess up transmission, and thus a quality supplier must use precision milling equipment; in the same way, experienced trainers know that mistakes in form indicate underlying weakness in the muscles involved. If you persist with bad form, injuries are likely to occur due to overcompensation and imbalance which places excessive strain on specific muscles, tendons, or ligaments. You can find online reference videos for correct form in any exercise; hire a trainer or have an experienced partner check your form for any issues until you’ve mastered it.
Work out all the muscle groups
Many newcomers to the gym will have a specific, often cosmetic reason driving their goals to become stronger. It’s not hard to imagine a skinny man wanting to develop bigger biceps or calves; while this doesn’t hurt as an initial motivation to kick-start the exercise habit, it’s also not a good or sustainable idea to prioritize targeting a specific muscle. Just as with ensuring proper form in an individual exercise, it’s essential that you achieve overall balance with your workout routines. Our bodies develop functional strength as a unit – if you do curls all day, but neglect the core, you’ll still struggle to pick up and lift heavy loads in real-life scenarios. Rotate simple yet compound exercises which engage multiple muscles, such as squats, deadlifts, pushups and rows; continue to increase the variety and work your kinetic chain to develop strength of movement.
Manage your load
For professional athletes in any sport, a personal record is a big deal. But as a novice in strength training, it’s vital to remember that you don’t have the same foundational skills, strength, or goals – not to mention access to professional trainers and medical expertise – which is so essential to that mindset of constantly pushing one’s self to the limit. Don’t blindly add weights each day or chase more reps – that will inevitably lead to fatigue, injury, and disappointment. Set reasonable goals, and pay attention to your body’s signals; push yourself according to perceived exertion instead of volume or weight numbers, and know when to stop if form breaks down. It’s better to do sets of five followed by rest, for instance – with big, integrated exercises you’ll still see strength gains while avoiding the loss of form that tends to occur after too many consecutive reps.
By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can avoid pushing yourself too hard while still making progress towards reasonable fitness goals and increasing overall strength.