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How to Hugely Reduce Your Injury Rate in the Gym (by 10x)

Stop getting hurt.

There is nothing that will slow your progress more than injury. If you can’t lift, train and perform, you will not progress. Until the injury heals, you will not be able to continue your journey.

Additionally, injuries can have an impact on everyday life. Dealing with your kids, doing your job, fixing the house. All these aspects of life will be impacted if you can’t lift or move anything.

Dr Mike Israetal from RP Strength has 20+ years of lifting experience under his belt. Here are the main things that he has learnt from that time. Follow the techniques and use the rules, and you will significantly reduce your risk of getting hurt.

Best Bodyweight Back Workout How to Fix Lower Back PainSource: CrossFit Inc / Depositphotos

1. Better Technique

  • Pay attention to technique and keep things stable
  • Reduce injurious technique
  • Tighter lower back on deadlifts, shoulders retracted on bench presses etc

2. Control the Eccentric Portion of the Movement

These reduces high forces in the plyometric transition are reduced if you go slow instead of divebombing your squats, lunges, or bench presses

Move with purpose and always maintain control. This will provide more time under tension and more muscle growth

3. Deloading on Time

  • Deload when you are supposed to, according to your training plan
  • Deload when your fatigue is too high and you are not performing well. You are in the gym to increase your performance so think long term, deload, then come back with renewed mental and physical energy.

4. Smaller Load Progressions from session to session

  • Dr Mike recommends 1 – 3 lbs per week
  • Making many smaller jumps will result in more progress with less risk of injury
  • If the incremental increase doesn’t feel enough, add more reps to fatigue your body properly
  • Aim for smooth progression over the long term

5. Add Pauses on Some Bottom Positions

  • More gains and overall strength can be gained from Pull Ups, Benches, Squats etc by pausing in the bottom position
  • Paused movements can be a great way to help you really see where your strength is at. A full range of motion pause squat is a perfect way to demonstrate to yourself that you can life that weight.

Learn more about the points in the video below.

Why is Proper Technique Important in Weight Training?

Proper technique is essential in weight training for several reasons:

Injury Prevention: One of the most critical reasons for using proper technique is to prevent injuries. Lifting weights with incorrect form can place excessive stress on joints, ligaments, and tendons, leading to injuries such as sprains, strains, and even more severe injuries like herniated discs. Proper technique distributes the load evenly across the muscles, reducing the risk of injury.

Efficiency: Using proper technique ensures that you are effectively targeting the muscles you want to work. It maximizes the muscle’s engagement and helps you get the most out of your workout. Inefficient form can result in wasted energy and reduced gains.

Muscle Development: Correct form allows you to isolate and work specific muscle groups, leading to better muscle development. For example, when performing exercises like squats or deadlifts with proper technique, you engage the intended muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Incorrect form may shift the focus to other muscle groups or place undue stress on the spine.

Shoulder mobility in CrossfitSource: RX'd Photography

Progression: Proper technique is essential for consistent and safe progression. As you lift progressively heavier weights, maintaining good form becomes even more crucial to prevent injuries and continue making gains.

Long-Term Health: Weight training is not just about short-term results; it’s also about long-term health and fitness. Consistently using proper form helps preserve joint health and reduce the risk of chronic conditions associated with poor body mechanics.

Mental Focus: Using proper technique requires concentration and mindfulness, which can contribute to mental focus and discipline in your workouts. This can carry over into other areas of your life, promoting better overall mental and physical well-being.

Balance and Stability: Many weight training exercises require balance and stability. Proper technique helps you develop these aspects, which are not only valuable in the gym but also in daily activities.

Self-Confidence: Knowing that you’re lifting with proper technique can boost your self-confidence and motivation. It allows you to feel more in control of your workouts and increases your sense of accomplishment.

To ensure proper technique in weight training, it’s often helpful to work with a qualified fitness trainer, especially when you’re starting out. They can provide guidance, corrections, and feedback to ensure that you’re performing exercises safely and effectively. Additionally, regularly videotaping your workouts and reviewing them can help you identify and correct any form issues.

What is the Eccentric Portion of a Weight Lifting Exercise?

The eccentric portion of a weight lifting exercise, often referred to as the “negative” phase, is the phase of the exercise where you are lengthening the muscle under tension. In most resistance exercises, there are two main phases: the concentric phase and the eccentric phase.

Concentric Phase: This is the lifting or shortening phase of the exercise. It’s when you’re actively lifting the weight against gravity. For example, when you’re lifting a dumbbell during a bicep curl, the concentric phase involves bending your elbow to lift the weight towards your shoulder.

Eccentric Phase: The eccentric phase is the lowering or lengthening phase of the exercise. It’s when you’re lowering the weight back to the starting position or resisting gravity as it pulls the weight downward. Using the same example, the eccentric phase in a bicep curl is when you’re lowering the dumbbell back to the fully extended position.

The eccentric phase is an essential part of strength training because it provides several benefits:

Muscle Control: During the eccentric phase, your muscles must work to control the resistance, providing muscle control and stability.

Muscle Building: The eccentric phase causes muscle micro-tears, which, when repaired, lead to muscle growth and increased strength.

Strength Gains: Emphasizing the eccentric phase in your training can help you build more strength over time.

Injury Prevention: Focusing on proper form during the eccentric phase can help prevent injuries, as controlling the weight during the lowering phase is often where injuries occur if form is compromised.

It’s important to note that both the concentric and eccentric phases are crucial for a well-rounded strength training routine. Many people tend to overlook the eccentric phase, but incorporating it properly can lead to better results in terms of muscle growth and strength gains.

What is a Deload Week and Why is it Important in Weight Training?

A deload week is a planned period of reduced training intensity and volume that weightlifters and athletes incorporate into their training programs. It typically lasts for one week and serves several important purposes in weight training and overall fitness:

Recovery: Weight training, especially with heavy weights or high-intensity routines, can place significant stress on the body. Over time, this stress can accumulate, leading to fatigue, overuse injuries, and burnout. A deload week allows your body to recover by reducing the physical and mental stress associated with regular training.

Injury Prevention: Deloading helps prevent overuse injuries by giving your muscles, tendons, and joints a break from the heavy loads and intense workouts. It’s an opportunity for your body to heal minor injuries and reduce the risk of more severe injuries.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Recovery: Intense weight training places stress on your central nervous system. A deload week helps your CNS recover, which is essential for long-term progress and prevents symptoms of overtraining, such as decreased performance and fatigue.

Mental Refreshment: Weight training is not only physically demanding but mentally taxing as well. A deload week provides a mental break, helping to prevent burnout and maintain your enthusiasm for training.

Long-Term Progress: Periodic deloading can actually contribute to better long-term progress. It allows your body to adapt to previous weeks of training, making you more resilient and better prepared for the next phase of your program.

During a deload week, you typically reduce the training volume and intensity compared to your regular training routine. This reduction can be achieved in several ways:

  • Decreasing the amount of weight lifted.
  • Reducing the number of sets and repetitions.
  • Shortening the duration of workouts.
  • Focusing on mobility work, flexibility, or light aerobic exercise.
  • Avoiding maximal or near-maximal lifts and exercises.

The exact approach to deloading can vary based on individual goals, fitness levels, and training programs.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and use the deload week as an opportunity for recovery. After the deload week, you can return to your regular training program feeling refreshed and ready to continue making progress. Including deload weeks in your training plan is a wise strategy for overall fitness and long-term success in weight training.

What are Pause Squats and Why are they Beneficial?

Pause squats are a variation of the traditional barbell squat exercise, where you deliberately pause in the bottom position of the squat, maintaining tension and control before rising back up to the starting position. Here’s how they are performed:

Setup: Begin by setting up the squat rack with a barbell at an appropriate height for your squat. Load the bar with an appropriate amount of weight.

Execution:

  • Approach the bar and position it across your upper back, just as you would for a regular squat.
  • Step back from the rack and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
  • Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, lowering your body in a controlled manner.
  • As you descend, aim to reach the bottom of the squat (typically where your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below), but instead of immediately ascending, pause and hold this bottom position for a predetermined period (e.g., 2-5 seconds).
  • Keep your core engaged, maintain proper posture, and breathe throughout the pause.
  • After the pause, push through your heels and ascend back to the starting position to complete the repetition.

Pause squats offer several benefits:

Strength Development: Pausing in the bottom position of the squat requires greater muscular control and strength. It eliminates the use of the stretch reflex, which is the bounce you get at the bottom of a regular squat. This increased time under tension can help develop strength and power.

Technique Improvement: The pause forces you to maintain proper form throughout the lift. It highlights any weaknesses or flaws in your squat mechanics, allowing you to address and improve your technique.

Overcoming Sticking Points: Pause squats are excellent for breaking through sticking points in your squat. By spending extra time in the most challenging part of the lift, you can build confidence and strength to push through these plateaus.

Muscle Engagement: Pausing in the squat position engages your muscles differently and can help build muscle endurance, particularly in the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Injury Prevention: By pausing in the bottom position, you ensure that you have control and stability. This can reduce the risk of injuries that might occur during fast or uncontrolled movements.

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Mental Toughness: Pause squats can be mentally challenging because of the added time under tension. They help improve mental toughness and discipline, which can translate to better performance in other areas of your training.

When incorporating pause squats into your workout routine, it’s essential to use a weight that allows you to maintain proper form and control during the pause. Start with lighter weights to get used to the movement, and gradually increase the load as your strength and technique improve.

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