Strong muscles are important for healthy bodies. One way to keep muscles in shape is with strength training. Studies attest that strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, can help you manage and sometimes prevent conditions as varied as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise helps add years to your life, while strength training helps make those years fuller and more rewarding.
By conditioning your muscles, strength training gives you the power and agility to stay fit, active and independent and helps to easily accomplish so many tasks and things you love to do.
But performing muscle-strengthening exercises the wrong way can do more harm than good. Here are eight tips or guidelines from Harvard Medical School to help you avoid injury and keep your program on track.
1. Always warm up and cool down properly.
2. Use proper form to avoid injuries and maximise gains. You can learn good form through a class or one-on-one personal training with a certified professional.
3. Breathe out when you are lifting or pushing. Breathe in as you slowly release the load or weight. Never hold your breath while straining. This can temporarily raise your blood pressure considerably and can be risky for people with cardiovascular disease.
4. Don’t lock your joints. Always leave a slight bend in your knees and elbows when straightening out your legs and arms.
5. Don’t be so eager to see results that you risk hurting yourself by exercising too long or choosing a weight that is too heavy. Remember that it’s important to rest muscles for at least 48 hours between strength training sessions.
6. If you’ve been sick, give yourself one or two days off after recovering. If you were ill for a while, you may need to use lighter weights or less resistance when you first resume.
7. Strength training exercises should not cause pain while you are doing them. They should challenge you physically, but this is not pain. If an exercise or movement causes significant pain, stop it! When performing an exercise, stick with a range of motion that feels comfortable and, over time, try to gradually extend that range.
8. Listen to your body and cut back if you are
- not able to finish a series of exercises or an exercise session
- not able to talk while exercising
- feel faint after a session
- feel tired during the day, or
- suffer joint aches and pains after a session.