Stay Injury Free While Training For Size
When it comes to training for size, there are many things one needs to consider. One of them is staying injury free while doing so. There are many factors involved in this matter; however, most experts agree that the following four elements must be taken into consideration:
Frequency – How often do you train? Do you go through phases where your workouts consist of less volume and more intensity? Or do you train hard all the time?
Volume – How much weight do you lift each workout? Is it heavy or light?
Are you lifting weights that require a specific technique (e.g.,
Olympic lifts)? If so, how strict are your form guidelines when performing these movements?
Intensity – What kind of effort does it take to get results from your training sessions? Does it involve long periods of rest between sets and/or reps?
Or do you perform high-intensity work with short recovery times (i.e., sprinting, jumping, skipping rope)?
Recovery Time – How long does it take before you feel ready to train again? Do you need a break after every session or once in awhile?
The first three elements are related to frequency. The fourth element is related to intensity and recovery time. These four elements, when combined, determine when you can and cannot train.
For example, if your training sessions involve high-volume weight lifting with long recovery periods (e.g., 48 hours), then you probably can’t perform this routine more than twice a week. If you did, then the intensity of those sessions would be too great to recover from in two days.
When training for size, it is ideal to follow a routine that consists of different elements each week. For example, you might alternate between upper and lower body days each session. Within each training day, you could also change the volume and intensity to something different than the previous session. (For example, on Day 1 you might perform a lighter warm-up set, followed by high-volume work, then higher intensity work to finish.
On Day 2, you might perform heavy warm-up sets, followed by heavier work sets, then a lighter cool down.) This way, you give your body adequate time to recover before training that body part again.
Alternatively, if you are self-conscious about going to the gym (for example) on Day 2 because of soreness, then you could do chest and back on Day 1, and legs and shoulders on Day 2. This way, your upper body is fresher on Day 2, and your lower body is “backed up” a little bit from Day 1.
The key to staying injury free while training for size is to remember that recovery comes first. This means nutrition (protein supplements are cheap nowadays), rest, and water intake. And yes, even sleep is a form of recovery. If you don’t get enough, it’s going to affect your capacity to train hard and recover properly.
Here is a quick guideline to help you plan your own routine if you’re training for size:
1) Train each body part at least every five days.
2) Warm up properly before starting the “real” workout.
3) Always stretch after each training session.
It’s important to remember that stretching is done to prevent injury, and that bouncing causes microscopic tears to the muscles. Stretching helps keep the muscles long and injury-free.
4) When lifting weights, go to failure within the RM zones listed in each exercise.
In other words, once you can’t do another repetition with proper form, then that’s it. If you are using your bodyweight, then push yourself as hard as you can for as long as you can. If you’re doing a hybrid system (i.e., PHA training), then push yourself to at least one minute in the “positive” part of each exercise.
5) Try to change the volume and intensities of your routine every four to six weeks.
If you use PHA training, then change the length of each PHA cycle at this time as well.
6) Concentrate on proper form before all else.
It isn’t how much weight you use; it’s how you use it. There is no point in using a weight that is too heavy that you cannot do the exercise properly.
7) Always warm up EVERY muscle that you are going to work that day.
Not only will this prevent injury, but it also prepares those muscles for the stress you are about to place on them.
8) When working out, don’t focus on anything else except for the muscle(s) you are working.
If there is music on, turn it off or put in something that doesn’t have vocals. If you have a television in your room, turn it off. The only thing that should matter while you are training is you and the weights (or machines).
9) Always keep your mind focused.
Psych yourself up. Get excited about training and the results that you will experience. This will keep you motivated and focused on the goal.
10) Always think about getting stronger each time you go into the gym (or train at home). This is the mind-set that you should have each time you enter the gym.
11) Drink adequate amounts of water every day. I can’t stress this one enough. Weigh yourself before and after each time you work out. If you sweat a lot in your training, then drink even more than that (I weigh myself both before and immediately after working out, and I still drink a lot afterwards).
12) Always keep a positive attitude. Yes, this is a mind-game as much as it is physical. You need to be confident in your abilities and have the will to succeed, or else you won’t get far.
13) BELIEVE! If you don’t believe that you can gain size and strength, then you won’t! The mind is a powerful tool. Use it to your advantage and don’t let any negative thoughts seep into your mind (block them out).
14) Think long-term rather than short-term.
What do I mean by this?
Well, if you just started training and expect to add size and get stronger within the next month, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Forget about what you “might” achieve in two months; just think about what you are going to do between today and tomorrow. Become so absorbed in the “process” of weight training that the “outcome” doesn’t even matter. Just enjoy the training.
15) No matter how much you train or how muscular you get, there will always be someone who is bigger and stronger. Don’t ever compare yourself to others. Just always strive to be your best.
16) If you don’t know, then find out! Remember: when it comes to lifting weights, there is no such thing as a stupid question. If there is something that you don’t understand, try to get answers. If you go to a gym, and the person behind the counter tells you to lift a heavy weight, ask him/her to demonstrate.
Most trainers love to give advice. If you train at home, buy some good books on weight training. (Check your local library as well). Even if you think you know everything, there is always something new to learn – even for me!
17) Always keep records of your training. Write down what you do each day, and try to improve yourself each time you train (set new goals). You don’t have to write down everything on paper, however. Many websites now offer programs online that you can easily access – just check a few out.
(Some good ones are listed in the Additional Links page on the website).
18) Make sure you get enough rest. Don’t work out 7 days a week. (This goes back to point #14). When you need to take a break, take one.
It’s better to give your body time to recuperate than to beat it up and wind up sick or injured.
19) Don’t expect immediate results. Some people start weight training and quit when they don’t get the results they thought they should get (or expected) after only a few weeks. If you start weight training, prepare yourself for a long-haul project. You will see results, I guarantee it, but not necessarily as soon as you might expect.
20) If you have someone to work out with, all the better. A training partner can be helpful in many ways: sharing equipment, giving you encouragement, keeping you honest, spotting you, etc…
21) If you don’t have a training partner, don’t worry. Many people get started in lifting and never have a training partner (I’ve been lifting for almost 20 years and still don’t have one). It’s just more fun to work out with someone else who has the same interests as you.
22) Make sure you buy good quality equipment, especially if you’re going to be training at home. Don’t just buy any barbell or dumbbells. Most sporting goods stores (such as Dicks’s Sporting Goods) and online sources have a good selection of quality weight training equipment. The same holds true with exercise machines – they don’t need to be expensive, but they should be well-made.
23) Learn good lifting technique. All it takes is a simple Google search to find out how to perform any exercise correctly. Don’t just jump into things – learn how to do things the right way. Most importantly, don’t let yourself get hurt.
24) Take a look around the website and read about my diet and supplementation advice. It isn’t everything there is to know about getting big and strong, but it’s a start.
25) Have fun!
If you aren’t enjoying yourself, why are you lifting weights?
Bonus Tip: Nothing beats learning from the experience of others, so read as many forums and blogs as you can about your topic of interest. Just remember that you have to take everything you read online with a grain of salt, because anyone can write anything they want on the internet.
Well, there you have it – 25 tips to get you started. I’m sure I could think of more if I spent more time thinking about it.
Sources & references used in this article:
Staying physically active after spinal cord injury: a qualitative exploration of barriers and facilitators to exercise participation by M Kehn, T Kroll – BMC Public Health, 2009 – Springer
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Runner’s world complete book of women’s running: The best advice to get started, stay motivated, lose weight, run injury-free, be safe, and train for any … by DS Barrios – 2007 – books.google.com
Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, Kaatsu-walk training by T Abe, CF Kearns, Y Sato – Journal of applied physiology, 2006 – journals.physiology.org
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Firm size and wages by WY Oi, TL Idson – Handbook of labor economics, 1999 – Elsevier