Made Possible Personal Training was featured this week in Ask Men for their article The 7 Lifting Mistakes Most Likely to Get You Injured, Dangerous Body Building Habits!
Dangerous Bodybuilding Habits
The 7 Lifting Mistakes Most Likely to Get You Injured
By: Jack Dawes
Practiced correctly, weight lifting is a powerful tool for making noticeable, lasting changes in your body. You can get stronger, leaner, and more muscular, and the health benefits – from greater bone density to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and future cognitive impairments – are extensive.
But practiced incorrectly, weight lifting can be very dangerous. After all, you’re dealing with heavy steel and iron, and deliberately pushing your body to its limits. We don’t want to scare you, but we do want to understand that certain recommended weightlifting practices, from warming up to calling a spotter, aren’t obnoxious or unnecessary niceties but vital to keeping you safe and allowing you to train to your maximum potential.
To drive the point home, we recruited Roger Montenegro, a personal trainer, the owner of Made Possible Personal Training, and a Performance Science Assistant with the MLB. If you don’t want to take our word for it, take his!
The Most Common & Most Dangerous Weightlifting Mistakes
Why it’s dangerous: Here’s a common scenario: you get off work late, and you only have an hour or so to get in all your lifts before you have to take care of your responsibilities at home. Many lifters opt to skip their usual warm-up routine and squeeze in as much strength work as they can. This is a mistake.
What to do instead: Study after study finds a consistent link between warming up and both higher performance and injury prevention. Don’t be fooled by watching professional athletes on television: the broadcast cameras don’t bother to show you the extensive warm-up routine all athletes engage in before they dare to unlock their peak performance.
The takeaway? Don’t skip your warmup. It will help keep you safe over the long run, and also contribute to making your working sets more successful. If you’re really pressed for time, simply warm up by doing your main exercise for that day at much lighter weights than you will use in your working sets.
NEGLECTING PROPER RECOVERY
Why it’s dangerous: Most of your life is lived outside the gym, so understand this: whether you grow or get stronger doesn’t just correspond to what you do in the gym. Eating and sleeping properly are necessary to recover from strenuous workouts, and neglecting these aspects will deplete your energy levels and put you at risk of injury.
What to do instead: Roger Montenegro emphasizes the importance of quality sleep, as well: “Sleep is very important when building muscles! Some people pride themselves on going to the gym on 3-4 hours of sleep when, in reality, it might be better for your body to recover so you can give your muscles energy and nutrition to grow! Muscles are like plants: you’ve got to take care of them to get them to grow. Take care of them by sleeping and eating right, and not overtraining!”
NOT TRAINING ANTAGONISTIC MUSCLE GROUPS
Why it’s dangerous: Muscular imbalances are inherently dangerous. If you have massive quads and puny, under-developed hamstrings, that imbalance will come back to bite you. The same is true with the relationship between the biceps and the triceps, the chest and the back,
What to do instead: Train like a proper bodybuilder and aim for symmetry, without neglecting important muscle groups. Is your deadlift weak but your squat strong? It’s time to devote more time and energy to strengthening your posterior chain. Can you bench press three plates but can’t row your bodyweight? It’s time to get serious about back training. Are your front delts bulging and strong, but you’ve never even heard of your rear delts? Make friends with face pulls.
Unattended muscular imbalances, particularly between antagonist-agonist muscle groups, is a recipe for injury and long-term pain.
OVERTRAINING PARTICULARLY IN A CALORIE DEFICIT
Why it’s dangerous: If you fall in love with bodybuilding, you’re at risk of developing two very bad habits: treating calories like the enemy and exercising until your body feels incapable of movement. “No pain, no gain,” right? Wrong.
Calorie deficits are necessary for weight loss, but at a certain point, they can become dangerous, especially if you haven’t adjusted your training volume or intensity. On a normal eating day, you might be strong enough to crank out five sets of 10 reps at 200 pounds, but if you attempt that same feat on a severe cut, you’re putting yourself at serious risk of injury.
What to do instead: Index your training volume and intensity to your calories. If you’re deep into a cut, try to sandwich your eating before and after your training, to make sure your body is getting the fuel it needs to get you through your workouts. And if you have to scale back, try to keep the weights heavy, even if that means doing far fewer sets or reps.
TESTING YOUR 1RM TOO FREQUENTLY
Why it’s dangerous: Your 1RM or one-rep max is the highest weight you can use on a given exercise for a single repetition. It’s an important number to keep in mind, because proper programming will work off of your 1RM, and your future progress will be measured against your current 1RM.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to constantly test it out to get an exact number. In fact, too frequently pushing your body to its furthest limit is a recipe for disaster, especially since you won’t be able to replicate the ideal conditions (adequate sleep, adequate food, a thorough but not exhausting warmup) every time.
What to do instead: Use a weightlifting calculator to estimate your one-rep max, based on your most recent lifting numbers. This one from StrengthLevel gives you a very reliable estimate, which can be improved by adding more data. The calculator isn’t perfect, obviously, but it will give you a very close approximation of your maximum strength without you having to burn yourself out once or twice a week on every single lift you do.
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