There are a lot of people out there that want to get in shape fast! I know plenty of folks trying to get in "shape" before a class reunion, a wedding or a special trip. They tell me things like, "I got this great program in the mail, it's Extreme (you fill in the blank)." Just recently, I looked over a flashy, nicely packaged exercise DVD set. There were a number of extreme exercises which consisted of plyometrics, single-arm push-ups and advanced abdominal exercises. I asked my friend if she planned on using the DVDs and she responded, "I'm a little nervous about the exercises, they seem really hard." When I heard that, I shared my concerns about her extreme purchase along with my top 5 ways to get injured. Here they are:
- Begin with an extreme exercise regimen - It's impossible to get your body into shape using extreme conditioning unless you've properly prepared your body beforehand. If you haven't exercised consistently for any given amount of time, beginning an extreme exercise will most likely lead to injury.
- Avoid the warm-up - The body is a machine, therefore you have to warm it up properly, otherwise you'll pay dearly. So often, people walk into the gym as their "warm-up" and start lifting heavy or go right into a movement that requires a warm body. The result? An ineffective workout, soreness and sometime a strained or pulled muscle.
- Don't have a plan - I can't tell you the number of people that I see doing exercises without much thought. They drift from machine to machine, and perform exercises that may not even be right for them. An example of this is using all the abdominal machines because you want ripped abs. The only problem with this goal is that ripped abs don't come from exclusive machine use.
- Overestimate your fitness level - I work with clients who say things like this, "Oh, I used to do leg presses all the time with four plates on each side." Of course this was ten years ago in college - before a wife, the kids and a stressful job. The last thing you want to do is be overly confident when you first start working out. You're sure to pull something or get something out of alignment. My motto is to be conservative; you can always increase the intensity, but you can't do anything once you've overdone it.
- Leave out a major component of fitness training - I know people who are cardio-holics (new word). They don't strength train, stretch, or work on core, balance and agility training. Unfortunately, people get tied to one dimensional training. This leaves them at risk for an injury since their bodies aren't training in different environments which will increase their overall fitness level. Sticking to your favorite routine can wreak havoc on your long term success, so be sure you have a well-balanced fitness program at all times.
So the next time you decide that "Today is the day," be sure that you review these top 5 ways to injure yourself. If you remember these tips, you'll prevent injury, get stronger and enjoy a better quality of life.