Here is some safer weight training advice if you love lifting weights, testing your strength, getting stronger and developing bigger, sexier muscles without wrecking your progress by getting injured.
This applies to everyone, but especially older men, like me, or men who may be middle aged and not in good shape to start out with.
Most bodybuilding and weight training advice is geared towards
younger men or men who make the gym the focus of their lives. In other
words, the advice is not geared towards normal men living normal lives.
have been getting hurt by weight training consistently for years. I
see other men get hurt all the time and I see people doing lifts that
will hurt them in the near future and may even cripple them eventually.
The problem is that our minds are so much stronger than our bodies, we can push ourselves past what we should be doing. Plus there is this built in societal pressure to continually go past our pain limits. It's almost as if someone above us wants us getting hurt, going to the doctor, buying pain medications, having operations and living a pain-filled life to line someone's pockets and keep us in our place.
if the conspiracy is not at that level...although it probably is...your
coaches, at every level and every time you turn around, are always
barking out orders at you...rub some dirt on your injuries, screaming no
pain - no gain, or telling you it is all in your mind and to give 110%.
are not in your mind. Injuries are in your body, but your mind plays a
major role in your injuries because it pushes you past what you should
be doing. Your mind ignores the pain signals your body gives it. And
your mind would rather please other people than you.
You don't have to continually believe the lies you're told, including from your own mind.
If you truly want to be a happier man in all areas of your life you have to ignore any advice that gets you sacrificing yourself, getting injured for stupid reasons.
So, start making better decisions and enjoy making gains with safer weight training.
Not doing the wrong anything will always make your life far easier. Weight training is no different because it's extremely easy to get injured when you do the wrong thing.
Shoulder Exercises NOT to Do
Upright rows and behind the neck presses will kill your shoulders. They both put tremendous pressure on your shoulder when it is at it's weakest and most vulnerable position. A better alternative for your shoulders are standing shoulder presses and shrugs. Both these movements, if done correctly, are safer.Chest Exercises NOT to Do
The potential for disaster on reverse grip bench presses are horrendous. It is very easy for the bar to fall out of your hands and onto your face. Plus they are murder on your wrists.
Extremely wide bench presses with
your elbows flaring out to your sides perpendicular to your body will
screw up your shoulders and maybe even tear a pec. This might be one of the most harmful exercises ever because so many men bench press.
When doing flys, pec-deck or cable crossover movements, you should not allow your arms to go behind your body. I know it feels good and that you are developing an awesomely sexy chest, but the potential for injury is severe. If you insist on doing flys, do them lying on the floor so your arms can only go as far as the floor. You can still get a great pump with a more limited range of motion.
Dips are a stupidly hazardous exercise for anyone who is not already good at dips such as younger men who do not have much body weight to lift. If you are heavier or weaker there is no way for your shoulder to not get stressed beyond their limits. Any movement where your shoulders are stretched past normal by the weight of your body is not safer weight training. You are inviting injury.
Leg Exercises NOT to Do
When you do squats, the bar should be placed as far down your back as you can. This is the low bar squat. The problem with high bar squats is that the weight of the bar is up on the bottom of your neck placing enormous pressure on it. You want the weight of the bar to be carried by your big back muscles, not your little neck.
Leg extensions are a tough one to quit. They are satisfying because of the pump you get in your thighs and you can see your quadriceps flexing while you are sitting there. But they have the potential to put tremendous stress on your knees. If you do them, be cautious. It might be better to do leg presses.
Back Exercises NOT to Do
If you are not strong enough to do a lot of good reps of chins, don't do any. The hanging your entire body weight will damage your shoulders. Chins work best for younger, leaner men with no shoulder problems and a light body that is easy to lift.
The hex bar deadlift is not good because at the top of the movement you will have a huge weight in your hands swinging around and potentially out of control. You can really damage your arms, shoulders, back and mid-section. Normal deadlifts are better because at the top of the movement, the weight is secure against your body.
Arm Exercise NOT to Do
Close grip bench presses with your hands close together are very hard on your wrist. The correct placement of your hands for most men is where your index finger is just touching the smooth part of the bar with your hand on the knurling. This grip will keep your wrists straight.
You need to be careful with the weight of curls because they can damage your wrists and even elbows.
Now that you know what exercises not to do for safer weight training, there are some other key things to keep in mind. Just because you avoid the riskier exercises, does not mean you will not get injured.
Other Weight Training Elements to Avoid
Higher reps do tend to give you the satisfying pump with a temporary size gain and visible veins popping out impressively.
But you have to be very careful with the exercise selection and weight involved. You'll find that the best way to do high rep sets is with a weight that is almost ridiculously light for you on an exercise that you are very experienced at that you perform under extreme control and perfect form.
Not with body english or cheat reps. Not after you have been doing the exercise for only a few weeks. Not after you have only been lifting a few years. And certainly not if you are well up in age (30's and older) with only a minor amount of recent lifting under your belt.
We see images of muscular bodybuilder's cranking out high reps with bigger weights and their massive muscles engorged with blood, veins popping looking how we'd like to look. But if you dig deeper, you'll see that the weight they are using is extremely light compared to their actual strength. They have built the foundational strength and have the experience and body awareness to do those high reps properly.
So, unless that is you, and you want safer weight training, don't do high reps.
Doing sets of 10 reps or more with your major lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead shoulder presses and bent rows is too many reps.
So don't do that. Limit your heavy work sets to around 5 reps max.
It's usually best to leave the high rep pumping sets to very experienced lifters who know their bodies very well and who are training for competition.
Too few reps is not good either because these are usually done for your one rep maximum with the high potential for injury and strains when trying to get that one rep max.
Too many sets per exercise needs to be avoided too. Every time I get hurt, it's on the second or higher work set. I get a great first work set, feeling awesome, strong as hell with my big muscles getting bigger. I get excited for the next set, thinking how strong, muscular and sexy I'm getting and it all goes away with an injury.
You are so much more likely to be tired the longer your workout lasts and if you take minimal rest breaks.
Safer Weight Training Advice From Starting Strength
A set of 10 gets sloppy at about rep number 8 or 9, unless you’re an
experienced lifter, and even then it’s damned hard to hold good form on
the last reps of a high-rep set. A set of 5 ends before you get fatigued
– 5 reps is an interesting compromise between heavy weight and higher
reps. Unless you’re a heart/lung patient, 5 reps won’t elevate your
breathing rate until after the set is over, but a set of 10 will have
your respiration rate elevated before the end of the set.
A fatigued movement is a potentially incorrect movement, the more so the less experience you have. Practicing a new exercise that requires balance and precision under conditions of fatigue will have you practicing it incorrectly, thus creating a poor learning environment for your lessons in correct movement under load. Not only is the weight too light to make you strong, it is probably heavy enough that you’re doing it wrong at the end of the set because you’re tired.
This is why you need to be careful with sets across. This is the method where you do 2 or more, usually 3 to 5 sets, with the same heavier work weight. It might look like this in your training log - 5/275, 5/275. 5/275. Which indicates 3 sets of 5 reps each with 275 pounds.
This is a volume method.
It works great when you are starting out because the amount of weight is not that much.
It works great if you are a teenager or in your early 20's. But it is not safer weight training as you get older and stronger.
I find it just gets me tired and injured and not enjoying my workouts. As you get tired at the end of the set, you are more susceptible to injury. Your mind is stronger than your body and wants to push past your physical limits. But you need to be careful.
I find it's better to work up to only ONE heavy work set. My mind can handle it and so can my body.
The other problem with too many sets or too many exercises is your workout takes a long time. You need time between sets to rest. Sometimes many minutes. If you are doing sets across with big weights, you should really rest at least 5 to 10 minutes between sets. Your workouts will take 3 to 4 hours.
I love to lift, but would go insane being in the gym that long. I don't have that kind of time. It's not that fun to sit around so long doing nothing between sets. Maybe if you are with friends you can bs with. Maybe if there are a bunch of scantily clad hotties prancing around to gaze at.
But usually this won't be the case. You'll work out alone without any hot girls to look at.
Every time I get my strength levels up closer to where I want them with my muscles getting bigger, and more sexily defined and my belly flattening, I overdo it, not focusing on safer weight training, hurt myself and have to rest for months and then ease back into it for more months.
Ton's of wasted time, wasted effort and physical pain to deal with.
The last 2 times I have suffered weight training injuries, it's been from too much volume or not safer weight training. It was more than my body could handle.
I hurt my elbow on the second set of 10 rep heavy triceps extensions. It's been over a year and it is still not healed fully.
I hurt my neck and back on the second set of 5 rep heavy squats last winter. I have been to nerve doctors and chiropractor's for the last 8 months trying to heal.
Learn from my stupid mistakes and practice safer weight training.
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