Strength training is a magical fitness tool. It is possible to increase bone density, create more physical power, and re-sculpt ones body into a more athletic form. Using weights is also one of the most common sources of injuries (especially to the shoulders) that we hear about in fitness.
It is important to understand that adding weights will exaggerate ALL your results. If you are using proper form, and working carefully, your progress may be more dramatic. That also means if you are making mistakes in how you move, which weights you choose and how you balance the various parts of your workout, your injuries will likely be more severe.
I have been a personal fitness trainer for nearly a decade. Originally I came from a dance and yoga background and started learning about strength training over the past several years. The photo on this blog post is of my back. It was taken last year when I was 45-years old.
Here are a few simple ideas that have helped me and my clients have results we enjoy without injury.
1) Be Aware of Your Emotional State
If you are in an angry mood, you may have plenty of power and the desire for a ‘hard’ workout, but you need to stay extra focused on being careful with your form. Do your exercises slower than usual. During times of sadness, grief, or when you are low energy for any other reason (like returning to fitness after an illness or break), remember to reduce the amount of weight you are moving.
2) Be “Joint Gentle”
Your muscles can only move as much weight as your joints can safely handle. There is no point in having such ‘hard’ exercise sessions that your joints become injured. Also remember not to hyper-extend your joints into a locked position.
3) Add Isometric Moves
When you are at an angle that takes a lot of effort to maintain, take 4-6 deep, slow breaths in a static position. This can add excellent results to your overall strength gains and body sculpting capability. Isometric holds also work great during push-ups and pull-ups!
4) Protect Your Back
Most activities can be done more safely by activating your abdominal muscles. Bring your belly button closer to your spine while keeping your shoulders relaxed. When you are doing an activity that requires a lot of strength, exhale deeply and engage your abdominals. This is true of other daily activities like lifting heavy groceries, children, boxes, etc.
5) Include Flexibility Moves
Adding stretching and other styles of exercise like yoga to your body sculpting can: reduce muscle soreness, improve spine alignment, and help the muscle gains you have made be more functional for other sports and activities.
6) Put Equipment Down Carefully
To reduce the chance of having something fall on your foot or being tripped over, always put your gear on the lowest surface possible and away from the main area where you are exercising.
7) Control Your Weights
To see if you are using more weight than you can safely manage, try ‘freezing’ your motion at various angles. If you cannot stop and hold a static position, it will be safer to reduce the weight you are using and concentrate on having excellent form.
These are just a few general guidelines to add to your current workouts.
Soon we will begin producing fitness videos with practical, effective, comfort-focused exercises to offer here at Body Aware Grieving. If you have any specific questions or requests, please let me know!
If you live in the Alameda/Oakland area of California and would like personal fitness training, here is a link to my other website (www.FunctionalFitness4You.com). We can also include any of the Body Aware Grieving material during our sessions.
OK, enough with the promotional links…