Have you ever thought about what you are getting into when you decide you want to start a lifting program? We all wish it was as simple as going to the gym, lifting weights, feeling awesome, and going home. RIGHT? For some it might be, but for those who want to push the bar, make consistent gains, and minimize injury, it's not that simple.
As a coach, I work very hard at providing my athletes with the tools/education they need to minimize injury, limit breaks in their training, and make consistent gains in one form or another. IF and WHEN, the lifter buys into the tools, is when progress is made.
How many times have you been told by a coach that you need to stay on top of your warm up, pre and post lift stretching, and daily fuel to prepare your body properly for the gains you are expecting? We don't just say this to add more work to your plate, to make lifting more difficult. We say this because we care and we understand that when the human body is introduced to a new stimulus (lifting/exercise), there is new responsibility that follows. Going from a couch potato to a lifter is one thing. Going from a coach potato to a lifter who seeks specific results while minimizing injury is another.
Hear me out....
Heavy lifting tends to get a bad wrap in terms of concern for injury. Is it the heavy lifting that causes the injury OR is it the lack of preparation/prehab that allows the injury to develop overtime? I will answer this honestly. Yes, over training, lack of changes in volume/intensity, and poor program progressions can lead to injury. This is why selecting a qualified coach to guide you is key. But even worse, not participating in some form of active recovery and not fueling your body so that it can minimize fatigue/speed up recovery for and while training can be more detrimental.
What happens to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nervous system when you are lifting...
It's science. Applying new stimulus such as various loads and exercise intensities to the body causes various metabolic processes to occur (I'll save the sciency details for later) including muscle damage/breakdown, overall fatigue, tissue changes, and possible exposure to predisposed imbalances that need to be corrected before progressing. This requires responsibility on your part. It's called fuel, active recovery, and movement preparation.
For the purpose of this post we will focus on guidelines for Active Recovery and movement preparation". Part II will be more in depth on what your routine may look like. For now, I want you to be aware of what you signing up for. It's not just lifting. If you are intending to participating in any form of lifting you should know that these are the responsibilities required to minimize injury and breaks in your training for continued progress.
1. Follow a proper warm up that includes corrective exercises for imbalances that you may have in order to prepare for the scheduled lift that day. Even if that means you are guy doing glute kick backs in the gym, it's not girly, it's not silly, and it's not pointless. It's what will set you apart from other lifters who walk in and throw plates on, do a few reps, and walk out. Preparation for movement is key.
2. Complete a stretching/active recovery routine a minimum of 3X per week. Frequency is key here. Once a week isn't going to help you move better in the gym. It isn't going to increase your flexibility/mobility. Progress is based on work, selecting proper frequency determines the speed of progress.
NOTE: A strength athlete is not meant to be super flexible. Your active recovery routine needs to meet the demands of your sport/activity. When muscles grow, they get tight. Flexibility can be relative to the sport norms. A powerlifter isn't meant to be able to do all the crazy poses in a typical yoga class. They are meant to be able to move through the ROM for their competition lifts without risking injury.
3. PUT IN THE TIME! It's your body - your progress!
NOTE: If you are working with your coach, but not doing homework, not utilizing the resources provided to you, how can you expect progress? Think about it - do you expect a raise at work if you haven't been putting in the effort to progress?
4. It will be worth every second because that goal is your priority! Do what it takes to get there and don't look back. Allow obstacles to be lessons, but make sure you can say - I did everything I could to make it happen.
Can all of this guarantee that you will always be injury free? No. There are underlying injuries that appear and tweaks that occur while training due to habits inside and outside of the gym. What it can do is limit the risk of injury and allow for greater potential. Keep in mind, recovery is what keeps you going, what you put in is what you get out. Numbers on the bar can't happen if you are injured and changes to your body composition can't happen if you can't put in the work.
Unsure what a proper warm up (movement prep) and active recovery routine looks like for you goals? Email me at RaisingTheBarPerformance@gmail.com. Happy to help out any fellow lifters!
RTBP - "Empowered Through Strength"