Is exercising one of your New Year’s resolutions? Year after year, working out is at the top of a lot of people’s lists. Especially if weight training will be a focus, it is paramount that you follow proper technique. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced lifter, our tips will help you achieve your goals and reduce the risk of injury. Nothing kills momentum faster than an injury that prevents progress. If you’re weight training to focus on your upper body, almost any exercise you will perform uses your hands and wrists. As a result, some of the most common injuries from weight training are to those areas.
Learn the Right Form for You
While there is no such thing as perfect form, there is definitely bad form. If you have never performed a particular exercise, do a little research before your first attempt. One option is to ask a personal trainer to demonstrate. Another is to look at reputable sources online or health and fitness magazines. While each person’s form will vary slightly based on body type and so forth, make sure you are holding your weights correctly and using the proper range of motion. The better your form, the better the results, and the less likely you are to get injured. Bad form can lead to sprains, fractures, broken bones, and other painful injuries. For more information on the differences between sprains and fractures, here’s a recent blog on the topic.
Lift a Comfortable Amount of Weight
If you are performing an exercise for the first time, start with a weight that you can comfortably lift 12-15 times. If you are motivated to gain muscle mass, you will be tempted to frequently increase the amount of weight you lift. Be careful. Pushing yourself is a worthy ambition but do so intelligently. Perform the same exercises with the same weight for two weeks so you know that you are able to lift at this level comfortably. As you get stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight.
If an exercise causes pain, stop immediately. Try the exercise again in a few days or reduce the amount of weight so that you do not feel any discomfort. Lifting an appropriate amount of weight is closely linked to using proper form. Never lift a weight that does not allow you to maintain proper form. The two most common factors that lead to weight training injuries to the hands or wrist are lifting weights that are too heavy, using bad form, or both. If you’re unable to maintain good form, reduce the amount of weight or the amount of reps (weight training lingo for repetitions).
Lift in a Slow and Steady Manner
Rushing through your lifts also puts you at risk for injury. Performing each repetition slowly and steadily puts a focus on your muscles rather than relying on your momentum to get you through. If you are rushing, you are more likely to use bad form. Also, don’t rush through your workout as a whole. Dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour per workout to achieve your fitness goals. Don’t exercise for multiple hours at once, as this will put too much strain on your muscles.
Give Your Muscles an Opportunity to Recover
When weight training, it is common to perform multiple sets of the same exercise with multiple repetitions. The amount of sets and repetitions that you do depends on your fitness goals i.e. becoming more toned, gaining muscle mass, maintaining your current muscle mass, losing weight, etc. Make sure to rest at least 30 seconds between reps to give your muscles an opportunity to recover. In addition, don’t work the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Stagger your workout plan so you work on different muscle groups on different days. For example, you can focus on chest and back one day and arms and shoulders the next. This creates a balance that reduces the risk of injury.
Warm-up Before You Lift
You may be tempted to jump right into your weight training. But, preparation is the key to success. Before you lift, spend five to ten minutes doing cardio, such as running on a treadmill or doing jumping jacks. This brings increased oxygen into your bloodstream and into your muscles. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than hot muscles, so warming up will prove worthwhile once you begin lifting.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are some exercises, especially chest exercises, where there is a risk that your weights will crush you if you are unable to complete the exercise. This is exactly the case for one of the most popular exercises, the bench press. If you’ve never done a particular amount of weight, ask someone to spot you. This person will help you complete the exercise if you need the help and will serve as your safety blanket if anything goes wrong.
Weight training, and exercising, in general, provides countless benefits. We hope that these tips will be helpful to you as you use your hands and wrists to achieve your impressive fitness goals. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and if you happen to injure yourself, we’re here to help! 844-HAND-911 is the official Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas hand trauma hotline. Our hand specialists and registered nurses are here to take your emergency calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Injuries that we treat in Houston include a sprained wrist, a broken finger, a dislocated joint, hand, finger, and thumb fractures, and more. If your injury does not require immediate attention, feel free to set up an appointment to see us. Happy lifting!
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