Safety Tips For Strength Training

Many people start training, injure themselves, and never train again. As I’ve said earlier, the goal is to train and build muscle, not sustain injury. So, make safety a priority.

There is a common mistake with many of us – we want something, and we want it so bad that we disregard the aspects that don’t get us there as quickly as possible. You cannot cut corners with strength training. Any attempt to do so will result in a high risk of long-lasting injuries.

You want to be fit, build muscle mass, lose weight, and many more. I am sure you understand but let me reiterate that you cannot accomplish these wonderful aspirations in a day, week, or month. It takes a lot of time and patience, just like anything worth having in life. 

Please refrain from operating weights you know are too heavy, and try not to push your body too far. You only get one, and it should be treated with the utmost care. Follow the plan mapped out for you in chapter six. And with time, you’ll see the results of your labour.

Safety First

I don’t think there’s anyone aged 50 who wouldn’t have come across the phrase, “safety first.” It’s a common saying. But what does it mean? It means before all things, there must be a condition whereby you’re protected from the situation that could likely cause you harm. 

That’s what we’re going to cover in the final chapter of your training. Visit your doctor: This should be the first thing you do, see your doctor before starting an exercise program. Especially if you’re overweight, you have a pre-existing health condition or haven’t exercised before. The pre-exercise screening will inform your doctor of health conditions that may put you at greater risk, which may outweigh the potential benefits of exercising. It is a deeply bitter pill to swallow but a super necessary one if it could cause you harm.

Always warm-up before any physical exercise: Suppose you’re a beginner who hasn’t had any experience working out before. In that case, I’ll advise you to take two days to perform some aerobic exercises: 30 minutes each day of either walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. 

This will help prepare your muscles for the stress you’re going to put them under. Furthermore, before starting each session (regardless of experience), you need a 5 minute warm-up of walking or any other light aerobic exercise.

Safety tips for strength training: If you consult with your doctor, they will inform you of any precautions you should take, but in case they don’t, here are some suggestions for staying safe.

Carry out exercises using the proper technique. If you’re unsure how to do an exercise correctly, you should ask a fitness coach, gym instructor, or strength training physiologist for help.

Start slowly. I’ve spoken about this before. If you’re just starting out, you may find you can only lift just a few kilograms; it’s fine. Once your muscles are getting the required strength from the repetition of training, you’ll be surprised at the rate of progression. Once you can do 12 to 15 reps with a particular weight, gradually increase the weight or the reps.

Never use faulty equipment to train. You’ll increase your risk of injury that way. Use only safe and well-managed equipment. We don’t want you dropping a weight on your foot from using a dodgy dumbbell.

Don’t halt your breath while training. Breathe at a consistent level when you’re lifting by breathing out during the exertion and breathing in during the relaxation. This is how I do it, but if it’s more comfortable to do it the other way, that’s perfectly acceptable.

Be in control of the weights at all times. Please do not throw them up or down or use momentum in swinging the weight through the range of motion. Aside from the injuries you could sustain, it is not an effective way to train. 

Maintain a strong positioning when you’re lifting. It will prevent injury. Lift weights you know you can. Stop if you feel the weight is too heavy to control. It never hurts to test the amount of weight by picking it up first.

Use the full range of motion. It is imperative when you’re lifting a weight that you let it travel through the full range of motion of the joint. This will develop the strength of your muscles and balance out the load to increase stability and overall movement. It will also decrease your chances of injury through overstretching.

Wear clothes appropriate for a workout and safety equipment like gloves. You should wear comfortable clothes that don’t restrict movement and allow you to sweat freely.

Maintain correct posture and body position at all times. Practice actively posturing yourself while walking or sitting to help you get used to it. When you complete a set, place the weight on the floor gently, don’t drop them. If not, you could injure yourself or someone around you. I am guilty of this sometimes, and it has ended in me effing and blinding at a sore toe.

Don’t train if you’re too tired or feeling sick. It’s not worth it, and your body needs to focus on recovery.

Don’t train if you’re injured. Stop your exercise at once and seek medical care. Muscles need time to repair and grow after they’ve been worked. You should always rest your muscles for at least 24 hours before training the same muscle group again.

Safety is paramount. So it would be best if you didn’t take those safety tips for granted. Given that, I’ll be giving you four more workout exercises that are very safe for training lower back pain and strengthening your back. I frequently suffer from back pain, so I know how painful it can be, but these exercises are an excellent natural remedy for the pain. I hope they help.

1. CAT COW

A gentle flow between two poses warms your body and brings flexibility to your spine. It stretches your back and neck, softly stimulating and strengthening your abdominal organs. Cat cow also opens your chest, encouraging slow, deep breathing. 

Your kidneys and adrenal glands get stimulated by the spinal movement of the two poses. Coordinating these moves with your breath relieves you of stress and calms your mind. You

are also helping to develop postural awareness and balance throughout your body. It brings your spine into correct alignment and can help you ease back pain when you practice it regularly.

How to exercise:

Start on all four on your hands and knees, as in a crawling position. Ensure you keep your wrists directly below your shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Your fingertips pointing straight in front of you, and your shins and knees are kept at hip-width apart. Begin with your head in a neutral position, looking downward.

Begin by moving into a cow pose; that being, you slowly curve your spine inward and drop your stomach down, taking a deep breath in as you do so and aim your head up to the sky.

Next, move into the cat pose, reverse the position of your spine in one smooth transition so that you end with your spine curved upward, pointing to the ceiling. Breathe out as you do this and

point your head down into your body. That’s a rep. You can do 15 reps of the cat-cow, rest a while and have another set.

2. HOLLOW BODY CRUNCH

It’s an intermediate to advanced level abdominal exercise that targets your core muscles. It’s an excellent move for targeting the transverse abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, quads, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and inner thighs. 

When done correctly, the hollow body crunch can improve your posture. Also, if the lower back and abs are in the correct position, this move will help with strengthening the muscles needed to prevent lower back pain.

How to exercise:

Start by lying on your exercise mat, your legs and arms extended with your body going in a straight line from your fingertips to your toes. Then, raise both arms and legs about 6 inches above the ground. 

Make sure to contract your abs by engaging your core. Move your arms and legs to meet until the elbow touches the knees, then return to starting position. That is a rep. You can do ten reps, rest a while, then have another set or move onto something else.

3. QUADRUPED OPPOSITE ARM-LEG RAISE

The quadruped opposite arm-leg raise exercise, commonly referred to as bird-dog, strengthens your lower back. It primarily targets the erector spinal muscles, which run along your spine and are in charge of extending your torso. If you want to develop strength in your lower back to reduce the risk of injury due to muscular weakness, this exercise is the one for you.

How to exercise:

As in a crawling position, you start on all four – your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Your spine should be neutral throughout the moves. Extend your left arm forward while at the same time, you extend your right leg up and backward until both limbs are parallel to the floor.

Hold that position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat for the other sides.

4. KNEE TO CHEST STRETCH

It is used to stretch your lower back and hip muscles. It also helps relieve pressure on spinal nerves by creating more space for them as they exit the spine. I advise you to utilize this stretch after every workout.

How to exercise:

  • Lie on your back. Bend your knees and glue your feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring one of your knees to your chest while keeping the other leg on the floor. 
  • Ensure you keep your lower back pressed to the floor. 
  • Hold the position for about 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Relax and return the knee to the starting pairing. Repeat the process for your other leg.
  • To get more stretched, put out your other leg straight instead of bent at the knee while one is at your chest.

Exercises to avoid

Not all exercises are good, nor suitable for beginners. In fact, some could lead to injury in the process of training. It would be best if you stayed clear of them. I’ve carefully selected some exercises you should stay away from at 50 years+.

Bar Muscle-up: You should never try this exercise which involves hanging on a bar and swinging yourself up and down the bar. Pushing yourself up and down the bar is a challenging exercise, especially if you’re overweight. It can only be an effective exercise if you are already good at performing them. 

Even so, they put a lot of stress on your shoulder joints and ligaments. At your age, they are not a worthy exercise; regular pull-ups can provide more muscle activation because you can perform more of them safely.

Upright Dip: This is a bit similar to the muscle-up. You push yourself up and down a very low bar. You can strain, wear and tear your arm doing this too. Plus, easing a grip on the bar will result in a fall which can be damaging.

Kipping Pull-up: They are a variation on the standard pull-up, which involves a swinging motion of the body, accompanied by a sudden burst of power from the shoulders to reach above the bar. This exercise is a high injury risk exercise, as your shoulders get violently pulled on every rep. 

And it’s not as effective as a standard pull-up – the only reason it’s used is for competition in sports like Crossfit, whereby you have to do as many pull-ups as quickly as possible. It is grossly inferior to the strict pull-up in terms of building strength.

Behind the Neck Pull-up: This is another dangerous exercise for you. Using any lat pull-down machine behind your head is bad for you. It forces you to extend your shoulders unnaturally. Even if you’re super flexible, it still puts unneeded tension on your shoulder joints. It puts you at the risk of injuring your rotator cuffs. You are also prone to injuring yourself because you can’t see the bar behind your head.

Back To The Wall Handstand Push-up: You start this exercise standing on your two hands, your legs leaning against the wall while your back faces the wall. This puts increased pressure on your arms because you are essentially stuck in this position with the weight of your body bearing down on the shoulders until you finish the set. It might result in strain, wear, or muscle tear of the arms. 

Lastly, if you do not have total control and your muscles get fatigued during your set, then it could result in your face smooshed against the floor. It would help if you stayed off this exercise.

Behind the Neck Press: It’s a futile exercise for building the upper body strength because it can put a vast strain on your shoulder and neck muscles. Unfortunately, many people suffer from issues surrounding these areas of the body when you get older, such as rounded shoulders and lower back pain. 

It can commonly be attributed to the nature of their jobs if this applies to you. Behind the neck, the press should be a no-go zone.

Sit-up: Although it is widely practised among fitness enthusiasts, you might be doing it at the expense of your spine’s health. It can cause wear and tear of the spine through repetitive flexion, worsening your posture. 

Your abdominal core muscles should stabilize your spine, not encouraging flexion. And sit-ups can lead to lumbar spinal injury, predominantly if you previously suffered lower back pain. Lastly, they are not a functional movement of the body. Meaning you don’t need sit-ups to improve any function or activity you do daily.

Pseudo Pull-Up: The pull-up and chin-up are both fantastic exercises. But if you’re not doing the chin-up exercise correctly, you’re probably doing a pseudo-pull-up. And pseudo-pull-ups only give reassurance that you’re performing a full range of motion reps and can cause you neck pain.

Chair Dip: The chair dip variation of the dip exercise is an awful exercise because many people lack adequate shoulder range of motion to perform this movement safely and effectively. This exercise requires a great deal of shoulder extension you can’t find in many people. It puts excessive wear on the shoulder joints from an extreme internal rotation. And it could worsen your posture by encouraging forward shoulder position.

Upright Row: You use two dumbbells or a barbell for this. You’re required to position your shoulders into internal rotation with these weights. This puts your rotator cuff into a compromising posture and could lead to shoulder infringement, causing wear and tear on your rotator.

Behind The Neck Pulldown: This exercise is performed on a cable Lat Pull-down machine. Instead of pulling the weight down the chest, it is pulled down behind the neck. It leaves your neck in a cranked position and can strain the posterior neck muscles.

Loaded Back Hyper-Extensions: This exercise involves you getting on a back raise machine, holding a weight on your chest, and going to town bending at the spine down, and then all the way back up until you can’t anymore. This causes far too much stress. Your low back should never be extended past its natural capabilities. Hyperextending the low back can lead to a disc injury.

Shrugs: This exercise is not particularly harmful, but many people perform it with too much weight and reps. Excessive weight often results in an improper position, leading to severe neck muscle strain. Feel free to perform this exercise but take caution with the weight you are using.

Tips for preventing injuries while exercising if you’re overweight

Start with a visit to your doctor if you’re overweight, inactive, or you have a medical condition. Your GP can help you determine an appropriate heart rate for your workout and may temporarily limit rapid increases in heart rate so that you do not put undue strain on your body.

Medical conditions vary greatly from person to person, so you should be in constant communication with your doctor and training facility.

Start with mild exercises and progress to more intensive ones when you feel ready. You can use six basic movement patterns at home or at the gym: push, pull, twist, squat, bend, and lunge. All of these movements use multiple joints and muscle groups at the same time, thereby enhancing core strength and stability, burning more calories, and condensing your workout.

In general, obese adolescents are at greater risk of sustaining a sports injury than those of healthy weight. In other words, you might be more at risk of injury during strength training if you are overweight.

Therefore, one of your major goals of strength training should be weight loss. To give yourself a little extra help to shed pounds, you might consider trying natural supplements.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews.

It should be noted that pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet. Supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. 

Besides, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

Conclusion

The numerous benefits of strength training can never be overemphasized. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You are never too late to the party. You should know the much-touted loss of muscle mass due to ageing is even more so because of physical inactivity. 

Strength training can help you build that muscle mass, protect your bone health, regulate excess weight, manage chronic diseases, and many more. If you want to stay fit, strong, and healthy – strength training has got you covered. These are all things you should know and be an expert in by now if you have been following along.

The unknown is a scary thing. You might find the thought of making this kind of commitment intimidating as a beginner as it forces you to leave your warm comfort zone. The same can be said if you have experience in strength training but are only stuck with the same routine. A transition to a new way of exercising puts you right back in that beginner stage.

However, it would help if you didn’t think of this as a bad thing. A fighter in the UFC once said, “I go into every training session as a novice. If you surround yourself with lesser men that baby you, you gain nothing”.

Approaching your workouts with a beginner’s mindset will open your mind and allow you to learn. You only need to find the right motivation – top of which is the reason you decided to train. This will hold you up through thick and thin.

Creating time for training might appear a Herculean task, but if you prioritize your time, you’ll find yourself with an abundance of it. Start your training slowly and steadily. Set goals as you start your program. If you have no purpose or destination in mind, you will most likely fail. Put effort into visualizing one. 

Be patient when you start. A bottle of fine wine takes years to mature. Exercise patience! Although you do not need any equipment (as I have proven), that does not mean it’s not a wise investment. And besides, it’s fun buying new toys! There is very cheap equipment, from the resistance bands to medicine balls. You don’t need to spend a lot on equipment at the start.

With a pair of dumbbells and resistance bands, you’ll have everything you need to make incredible gains without draining your pocket. You’ll find it’s worth your investment, and you’ll be glad you did. Without any equipment at all, you can still achieve your strength training goal – all you need is the weight of your own body. 

Bodyweight workouts have been proven efficient and effective for strength training. And, as a beginner over 50, I advise you to start with bodyweight workouts to help you gain some form before venturing into using weights. The last piece of advice I can give you on this topic is to save the gym machines for later on down the line. 

Get your body familiar with the consistent activities, and then move on to something more challenging.

Have a workout plan – those who fail to plan, plan to fail. A workout plan has been designed to suit YOU. Ensure you give it a try for at least four weeks to get the full effects. It helps you stay on course and train effectively. Ensure you’re consistent, and remember to progressively overload your muscles with more reps or higher weight.

Take care of your diet. This is very important. You can’t afford to live a carefree or careless life in this regard. Your diets make or break your strength training workouts. There are nutrients beneficial to your body that you must prioritize. And if you can’t get them sufficiently in foods, take them in supplements. 

On the other hand, you need to avoid food that will worsen your health. One of them is processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are very detrimental to your health. Also, avoid taking lower calories. It mars your strength training amidst other harmful effects.

Lastly, you need to stay safe. The goal is to sustain fitness, muscle mass, etc., not sustain injuries – exercise properly. Don’t rush through. Don’t attempt weights that are too heavy for you. Some workout exercises are too strenuous for you as a beginner; some are strenuous because you’re of age, don’t attempt these exercises. 

I’ve listed them out for you, so you shouldn’t have any problems. And as I advised, if you feel it’s unsafe for you, stay clear of it. There are hundreds of other safe exercises for you. Your safety matters so much.

Now that you’ve been fully prepared go out and build that strong, fit and healthy body. The most important thing in your training is to have fun and be happy doing the things you love. Hopefully, strength training can become one of those things on your list of happiness. Just like it is mine.

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