The world we live today is vastly different from the one I grew up in. When I first started weight training people who lifted weights were a dirty little subculture that the rest of society shunned with blind aversion. It seemed only bodybuilders and strength athletes knew what we now all know; weight training makes you strong, and only the strong survive. In addition weight training also:
Increases the tonus of your muscles which looks great and raises your basal metabolism…which allows you to burn more calories 24 hours a day. You’ll even burn more calories while you’re sleeping.
- Can reverse the natural decline in your metabolism which begins around age 30.
- Energizes you.
- Strengthens your bones reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis
- Improves your muscular endurance.
- Makes you less prone to low-back injuries.
- Decreases your resting blood pressure.
- Decreases your risk of developing adult onset diabetes.
- Decreases your gastrointestinal transit time, reducing your risk for developing colon cancer.
- Increases your blood level of HDL cholesterol (the good type).
- Improves your posture.
- Improves the functioning of your immune system.
- Lowers your resting heart rate, a sign of a more efficient heart.
- Improves your balance and coordination.
- Elevates your mood.
Ok, so you get the point, weight training makes everything else in life easier and more enjoyable. Try and find a single drug on this planet that will illicit those results. No wonder doctors are now prescribing exercise as a cure all alternative to other treatment options. I have weight trained all of my life and have never had any medical concerns, EVER! Just lucky? I don’t think so, I know my regular lifting has contributed a great deal to my health.
Now that I’ve sold you on lifting some iron I’ll get to the point of this article. According to the National Health Interview Survey, about 20% of adults from 18-65 years of age weight train 2 or more times a week. While this is great news it has also been reported that of this 20%, 25-30% have reported related injuries that were severe enough to warrant medical intervention. Of those reported injuries, 36% were shoulder injuries.
Now that’s alarming. You have a 1 in 4 chance of a severe injury while trying to get better and stronger? I think we have a problem here. I’m not saying lifting doesn’t pose potential risks because it does. I’ve been lucky that after almost 20 years of progressive weight training I haven’t incurred any injury but I know countless others who have.
Why do so many people get injured? There are many reasons but I’ll express the ones that I see on a day to day basis.
1) Following someone else’s program. This is a great way to get hurt. I see this all of the time, some young kid who new to training and buddying up to the strongest and most advanced guy in the gym. The new kid follows exactly what his new mentor is doing along with all the advanced lifting techniques and get hurt after 5 or 6 sessions never to be seen again.
2) Getting your program off the internet or media publication. The programs that are not personalized for you are not for you, plain and simple. These readily available programs are generic and designed to sell magazines/supplements and or promote the trainer or business that is projecting them. In the end most will hurt you, I promise you that.
3) Getting advice from a “fitness professional” in a health club. These people that greet you at your local gym don’t have a clue how to train themselves, much less be of any use to you. Their job is to sell, bottom line. I’ve been in this business long enough to see the dark side of this business and it makes me sick.
Most health clubs do not have your best interests in mind but they do have your money, The managers perpetuate this behavior by employing trainers based on factors conducive to meeting their sales goals, not the qualifications of the trainer. Most health club trainers are uncertified and unqualified. Sad, but true.
4) Imbalanced exercise program. It has been shown in numerous studies that the most common resistance exercises, over time, will create imbalances at just about every joint in the body if a proper balancing strength, mobility and stability is not employed. If you follow 1-3 you’ll most certainly end up with an imbalanced selection.
Of course there are may other ways to get injured but I’ll keep it at 4 for now. If you avoid these you’ll be well on your way. Exercise balance is very personal and needs to be overseen by an EXPERIENCED and TRAINED professional. Don’t settle for anything less, your health is your most important asset.