HEALTH & FITNESS
NO PAIN, ALL GAIN!
It's a new year and - for a lot of women - it's time for a new you; bikini season is fast approaching and a new you that is stronger, leaner and healthier is worth investing into this year. The key to getting stronger, leaner, and healthier is strength training; however, you must do it right. "Reap the benefits [of lifting weights] while warding off injuries with these tips" (Hamilton) provided by Women's Health Magazine in their September 2011 issue.
1. Don't Skip Your Warm-Up
You wouldn't launch into an all-out sprint the second you stepped onto a treadmill, so you shouldn't jump into deadlifts the instant you hit the weight room. Working cold stiff muscles can lead to sprains and tears. To decrease the risk of injury you should start your work-out with a dynamic warm-up. Click here for some of the best stretches to start your work-out.
2. Be Aware of Your Form
Experts agree that proper form is the single most important factor in injury prevention, yet many women don't give it a lot of thought - especially when they're in a rush. If you are more aware of your form then you are less likely to have a sloppy form, which can lead to injury.
Trainer Robbi Shveyd, owner of Advanced Wellness in San Francisco says to think S.E.A.K.:
a.) Stand straight (head over shoulders; shoulders over hips; hips over feet), b.) Eyes on the horizon ( looking down encourages your shoulders to round and your chest to lean forward), c.) Abs tight ( as if you were about to be punched in the gut, but without holding your breath; this helps stabilizes your pelvis), d.) and Knees over your second toe (women's knees have a tendency to turn in because of the angle created by wider hips, says Joan Pagano, author of Strength Training for Women).
3. Don't Stress Out Your Shoulders
It may sound crazy to you, but women who lift weights can have less stable shoulder joints than women who don't lift at all; however, you should not be discouraged. Modify your moves (e.g. when doing an overhead press you could use dumbbells instead of a bar) and be sure NOT to extend your elbows more than two inches behind your body.
4. Be Aware of Opposing Muscle Groups
Many women have strength imbalances, which can make them more prone to injury; sometimes they're the result of your lifestyle (e.g. if you have a job where you hover over a desk all day can tighten and weaken your hip flexors while your glutes become overstretched and inactive) and other times they're caused by by not working both sides of the body equally. By being aware of opposing muscle groups you will be less likely to neglect them. To help with working opposing muscle groups you should mix up your routine - for every exercise that works the front of the body be sure to do an exercise that targets the rear.
5. Don't Do Too Much Too Soon
If your do too much too soon your body may not be able to handle it; it's okay to work till your fatigue but it's not okay to work till your exhausted. You should practice a three-step progression. According to Pagano you should first learn to do 15 reps with proper form with only your body weight; once you have learned that then you can add weight. Second, stick to one set with light weights for two weeks or until you feel comfortable with the move. Finally, when you can complete nearly all of your reps with proper form , add another set or more weight ( increase weight by roughly 10% each time).