Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Safety in the Gym

The single biggest mistake I see people making in the gym is this:

They imitate what they think they see other people doing.

There are a few key factors here that can add up to any combination of injury, ineffectiveness and frustration.  They are:

  1. Unless you have a solid understanding of exercise kinesiology, the movement that you saw and the one that you re-produce when you attempt it yourself may be very different.
  2. The person you are imitating may have no idea what they are doing.  This can even be the case if they appear very fit, are well-built or (gasp) they are a trainer themselves.
  3. Your training goals are different then the training goals of the person you are imitating.  This happens most often when a person training for fat loss imitates the training of a bodybuilder.

This is one reason that I advocate everyone invest in a few weeks worth of training sessions with a qualified trainer when they first begin working out.  I also recommend buying a few sessions every 3-6 months, just to help you with form checks, exercise progressions and matching goals to programming.

The issue of safety in the gym becomes and increasing concern, now that movement based exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, cleans and overhead presses are coming back into vogue.  On the surface, they appear to be fairly simple movements to imitate.  In practice however, the difference between performing them properly and going through the motions, or performing them improperly has huge ramifications with regard to:

  • Your safety.
  • The metabolic advantages of the movement
  • The development of the muscles each movement is intended to target.

Train smart; Eat right.

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