22 May 2022

Carlow Health: Five tips to exercise safely and prevent injury

Jack Saunders, Carlow Live's Fitness Guru and trainer at énergie Fitness Carlow

Carlow Carlow Carlow

énergie Fitness Carlow, First Floor, Carlow Shopping Centre

Today we are going to talk about five tips that you can use to exercise safely and prevent injury when you start off training.

These tips not only will help you to exercise safely but will help in most other aspects of fitness and are aimed at enhancing your fitness journey.

Learn proper technique
I am a big believer in if you’re going to do something do it right and the first step in learning to exercise is learning to exercise properly.

The number one thing that you should focus on when first setting foot in the gym is learning proper technique. Forget about weight and lifting as much as you can.

You will get so much more benefit out of lifting a lighter weight with proper form vs lifting a heavier weight with bad form. Going in and half repping an exercise or executing an exercise wrong will achieve nothing other than wasting your time and potentially injuring yourself. Exercise technique is there to prevent injury.

When you lift a weight you generally use big muscle groups, such as your chest or your hamstring muscles, to move the weight.

These big muscle groups can handle this weight presuming that you are lifting a weight that is manageable for you. There is a lot of stress put on your muscles and joints and if you do not lift with proper form the stress will be put on muscles that cannot handle this stress and injuries can occur.

As well as this, your big muscle groups will be put under a lot of unnecessary stress and injury can occur this way. If you have a question about technique, don’t be afraid to ask someone. That is what the trainers in the gym are there for.

Spend time learning parts of technique such as proper breathing and using your core muscles which will help to prevent injury and ensure you get the most out of the exercise.

Know your limits
Leave the egos at home once you come into the gym. DO NOT go into a gym and start throwing weights around that you are not able for. That is a one way road to injury.

Take your time with it and don’t have big jumps in weight. I know sometimes you might feel like you can do it but just because you think you can does not mean that you should, particularly if you train on your own. Ego lifting is the devil!

Make sure that you move through a full range of motion and set a goal amount of reps, depending on your goal, that you want to achieve with the weight and select a weight that you know you can complete the amount of reps.

Don’t copy anyone else. If you see a person who looks like you want to look like or lifts the weight that you want to lift don’t think that just by copying them you will automatically get there.

The people who you are copying will likely already have a base of strength and mobility built up that will allow them to do these workouts and will have completed all the steps up until this point!

Work around your body type, goals and level of fitness. For example, if you find that you get pain in your knees or ankles when running then stop running.

This may be because running has a very high impact when your feet hit the ground. Choose something that is less high impact and is easier on the joints and build up a level of strength before you launch into high impact exercise such as jumping exercises or running.

If you find that you are getting hurt from certain type of exercise then change the type of exercise. There are hundreds of ways to exercise so choose something that you can manage and that you think you can sustain for a long period of time.

Keep it simple
Start off with the simplest version of each exercise and progress your exercise properly. For example, if you are looking to start off with weight training but have never trained using weights before, putting a bar on your back and trying to squat might not be the best idea.

Progress your training steadily and don’t jump straight into something that you are not able for. An example of this would be with a squat. Start off with a bodyweight squat then once you are able to move through the motions properly, progress it onto the next step which may be using resistance such as a goblet squat.

Once you have mastered this movement then you can move onto something a little more difficult such as a kettlebell front squat before finally moving onto a weighted front or back squat.

Use proper progression of exercises and if weight training take your time. As well as this KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Don’t ever go near a bosu ball or get all your workouts off Instagram because the vast majority of these workouts are done by people who have trained for years and the vast majority of these workouts will not be suitable for beginners.

Ask someone who knows what they are talking about before you start a program.

Don’t be afraid to rest
Rest days are just as important as training days. Your body needs enough time to recover if you are to perform at your best and get the best results.

Don’t get stuck in the mindset that you HAVE to train every day or you won’t get where you want. Training every day, especially for beginners, is one way to tire you out. In fact, I would argue that training every day, for the vast majority of beginners, is one of the worst things that you can do.

I can guarantee you all it will achieve is turning you away from the gym because it will make it start to feel like a chore if you are so worn out from training every day and not giving your body enough time to heal itself.

This applies to everyone, both people who are new to the gym and people who are training for years. Mix on days and off days.

In many situations, more is less so don’t think that you have to do a ridiculous amount of exercise to get results. A training program should be challenging whilst including enough rest for your body to recover.

If you are beginning weight training and have a good level of strength, 3 full body training days a week is enough at the start and can be increased later.

Get a coach
The last tip I am going to give is to get a coach. Having someone who has experience in the field and knows what they are talking about will help you massively.

They will be able to bring you step by step through the process and the knowledge that they will have is very valuable to beginners.

They can watch your form and make sure that you are doing movements properly and safely. As well as that they will give you a proper program that will increase the progress that you make and will properly progress you through exercises.

The value of a coach is not to be underappreciated especially if the coach is of a high standard. Although it may cost you an extra bit the trade off is so great.

Prevention of injury, good progress, monitoring and changing of the program to suit you as well as nutritional advice tailored to your individual needs are what you can expect with a trainer and these are all factors that will benefit you greatly, especially as a beginner.

énergie Fitness - Carlow's Fitness Club - is opening soon in Carlow Town and will offer everything from spinning classes to a huge range of equipment, catering for both cardio, strength and functional training. 

For more, go to their website by clicking here. 

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