6 Ways To Have A Smart Workout
Have you ever been told that if you don’t feel sore after a workout, that you didn’t push yourself? No pain, no gain… right? Or maybe you were just trying to keep pace with the human tank next to you and hurt yourself in the process. “I don’t know what a deadlift is, but I’m gonna try it!” These are the kind of things that can lead to a really negative experience.
As bad as that sounds, it is not a rare occurrence. Many people think that working out is just about getting big quick and trying to lift as much as the guy next to you. Don’t get me wrong, a little healthy competition with your neighbor is completely fine, as long as it is done safely. Using your brain in the gym is just as, if not more important than using your brawn.
Here are 6 ways to make sure that you get a good workout while staying safe!
1. Remember that form is more important than weight
Though the ability to lift heavy weights sounds exciting, it comes with many hazards. Often times, people scale their progress to how much they can move. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but if you are deadlifting 300lbs for your 1RM with a rounded back and slacked shoulders, you’re not really deadlifting 300 lbs. All you are really doing is hurting yourself. Try it with proper form and see how your numbers change. Even if you have to drop down by 100lbs to do it right, it’s ok. But don’t ever do a move with bad form
2. Do your research before trying something new
Just because you heard that a Clean and Press is a great exercise, doesn’t mean that you go out and try it right away. People who are good at it have either had a lot of practice or have been trained by someone with extensive knowledge. Did you know that any real certified CrossFit Coach has gone through rigorous training to get where they are? They will spend hours just learning how to bail out with a broom stick before they touch a real barbell… and here you are, ready to attempt an Olympic Lift with 2 plates because you saw it on the tv.
3. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits… until you are ready
No matter what your goal is in the gym, everybody is looking to make progress. Naturally you want to push yourself harder and harder, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it is done properly. If your 1RM Military Press is 135lbs, don’t add another quarter to each side just to prove a point. The odds are that you are going to hurt yourself in your over-ambitious attempt. If you want to get stronger, follow the science for building strength (yes, there is a science behind it). Try dropping down to 115-120 and doing some 5x5’s until you are ready to attempt the 145.
4. Don’t deny yourself your rest day(s)
Many people are taught that if you just keep lifting, you will get stronger and bigger. Yes, a regular schedule and constant routine is vital for making steady progress. What people often ignore is the importance of their rest day. As much as you’d like to deny it, taking a rest does not set you back. It actually helps push you forward. It allows your muscles time to repair to prevent injury. Just like a car, if you run yourself too hard, you will break. Not to mention that rest will allow you to perform at your best. Take the time to take care of yourself.
5. Don’t forget the stretch
Remember when you were a child and you could put your foot in your mouth? Try it now. The odds are you can’t. The likely culprit is overactive muscles throughout your body. Often overlooked, stretching is one of the most vital parts to making sure you are staying safe during your workout. Your body was built to have full range of motion. The stronger your muscles get, the less mobile you become. To help with this, just add a regular stretching routine at the end of your workout. Having full ROM will help to make sure you are getting the most benefit out of your workouts by allowing you to actually move the way you are supposed to.
6. Workout with a partner
Working out alone allows you to really focus on you and your goals, but it can also limit a lot of what you can do safely. That’s where a workout buddy comes in. They can help to watch your form, as well as spot you on those heavy lifts. Not only can they help to keep you safe, but they can also make your workout more fun. Don’t have a workout buddy, but still want to get that heavy lift in? Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbor to give you a quick spot. Just be courteous and don’t do it in the middle of their lift!