Building a foundation from the start will get the most out of your efforts!
With the hundreds of different forms of exercise, it is easy to find yourself confused and feeling out the loop. You tend to ask yourself, where do I begin? What is best for me? Whether you are hooked up at the local gym, working out at home, whether you exercise very little or even if you’re a pro bodybuilder, you have the potential to improve your way of exercise. Having a thorough understanding of the basics is critical and will go a long way in accomplishing your goals proficiently, while dramatically decreasing your risk of injury!
Let's start at the beginning. A 5-10 minute warm-up would be ideal to lower your chances of injury; you are less likely to develop an injury with warm muscles than cold muscles. An up-tempo walk, light jog, stationary bike or elliptical are great providers for a quick warm up1. Furthermore, if you know the muscle group(s) you will be working, focus on warming those particular muscles. A common misconception is when stretching is used as a warm-up. Stretching is phenomenal and something that everyone should do at least three days a week, but it has its appropriate time and place. The best time to stretch is after your entire work out when your muscles are already warm, and then there is no doubt that a muscle won’t be pulled. Stretching’s many benefits include an increase in flexibility and range of motion, increase athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury2.
Second, to your warm-up comes proper form for each exercise. First, in regards to form, it is important to understand appropriate breathing techniques. One should inhale when you will be lowering the weight, not applying any force with the muscle (eccentric contraction). Then, one should exhale when the muscle is applying force to lift the weight (concentric contraction). This breathing technique is important because holding our breath during weight training can raise our blood pressure to a dangerous point1. Additionally, the proper form will prevent injury and guarantee that you are activating the muscle intended. This will become an even more critical component once the individual progresses into lifting heavier weights. The increased weight will put the lifter at a greater chance of injury, but with proper form, that risk is then decreased. Crucially, one should never sacrifice an increased weight for improper form. As a side note, when these heavier weights are reached, a spotter would be useful for those hard to reach repetitions.
Did you know you could perform one of the most effective forms of exercise right at home, not at the gym, with no equipment except possibly a pull-up bar?
By using natural, full-body movements such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and planks. These exercises bring so many benefits to those that execute them in an intense, disciplined fashion. One can develop lean muscle mass, increase metabolism, lower body fat, and increase bone density while decreasing your risk of injuries using these exercises. Author of “The Primal Blueprint” Mark Sisson, states that these benefits can be harnessed through as little as 30 minutes of high-intensity training only two days a week. These exercises are so remarkable because not only are they universally familiar and safe, but also provide extraordinary benefits with no gym membership necessary, no equipment needed and minimal time needed.
- Mayo Clinic Web site. Weight Training: Do’s and Don’ts of proper technique. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-training/SM00028/NSECTIONGROUP=2. Accessed August 14, 2013.
- Mayo Clinic Web site. Stretching: Focus on Flexibility. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447. Accessed August 15, 2013.