It is common knowledge that strong muscles mean a healthy body. And of course, strength training is the surest path towards keeping your healthy body. However, fail to perform muscle-strengthening exercises properly and you could do way more harm than good.
In order for you to avoid that, we’ve created a list of tips that will keep you away from injuries and further enhance your gym progress.
The importance of warm up
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t hit the weights as soon as you enter the gym. It’s simple: you have to warm up each and every time before a workout you have to warm up. The warm up needs to be a key component of your exercise program because it will help you avoid getting injured.
A good warm up should raise your body temperature by one or two degrees Celsius and it only takes 10 to 15 seconds of muscular contractions to raise your body temperature by 1 degree Celsius. Before your strength training, it is important that you focus on specific muscles.
Make sure that you activate muscles in your legs, arms, wrists, shoulders, neck and last but not least, target your core. In the end, you also have to cool down properly.
It may seem like a minor detail, but having proper gym clothes actually means a lot. Wearing the right clothes allows you to get the best workout possible. A simple white t-shirt won’t do that for you. Instead, get familiar with fine compression clothing that has been proven to accelerate your blood flow due to the compression of specific body parts.
Not only will you get your body temperature up in no time, but you will also boost the delivery of oxygen to the engaged muscles which means better performance. Improved blood flow helps your body rid itself of lactic acid and other metabolic wastes, so you’ll work at a higher rate longer. On top of that, improved oxygenation means faster recovery.
Form > weight
It is important that you place your focus on form instead of weight. In order to get the most out of your workouts, you need to pay special attention to form.
Align your body properly and move smoothly through an exercise. On the other hand, fail to do so and you could get injured.
If you’re not so sure whether your form is okay or you’re a beginner, start with very light weights and focus on alignment and form. It is important that you concentrate on performing slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents whenever you learn a new exercise.
As you’re progressing, add more weight to challenge your muscles. But only do that when you learn how to move with good form. And remember, breathe out when you are lifting or pushing and breathe in as you release the load or weight.
Engage your muscles
When we say engage, we think of challenge and challenge on a regular basis. Choose a weight that tires out the targeted muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form.
If you can’t do the final two reps, go for a lighter weight. But, when it gets too easy to complete all the reps, challenge your muscles again by adding weight or a set. Weight-wise, add 1 to 2 pounds for arms and 2 to 5 pounds for legs. When it comes to sets, add 1 or 2 sets per exercise.
Another way to challenge your muscles is to work out more. Work out additional days per week, but do that only if you can rest each muscle group for 48 hours before exercising again. Do not overdo it; you’ll only better the chance of getting seriously injured.
Your body needs to recover if you want to make progress.
Considering that strength training requires a lot of effort, it is perfectly normal that it causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. As the tears knit up, muscles grow stronger. And that is natural.
However, always allow at least 48 hours between sessions for muscles to recover. It is important that you focus on different muscle groups each day.
Do upper body on Monday and lower body on Tuesday, for example. Then go back to upper body on Wednesday and on Thursday focus on lower body again.
Get a good night’s sleep and move your focus from one muscle group to another day in, day out.