Many beginner and intermediate weightlifters think of weightlifting and bodybuilding as incredibly safe sports, and this is true. But what a lot of people don’t consider is that, while weightlifting is safer than many other sports, you’re still putting yourself at risk for injury, especially as your lifts start increasing.
As you progress in your weightlifting journey, you build confidence as well as strength. Both of these can help prevent injury, but due to lifting heavier, you can also increase your chances of injury.
Nothing will do more harm to your progression than a serious injury. Luckily for us, most injuries are preventable with proper form and using the right equipment.
While most of these tips will seem like common sense, they’re actually easy to forget about when you make the leap to advanced lifter. By keeping this tips in mind, you’re less likely to get injured, and more likely to continue busting through plateaus.
Tip #1: Use Collars
This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised by how many people refuse to use collars on the barbell when lifting. The next time you’re in the gym, keep an eye out for anyone squatting, deadlifting or benching with a barbell, and see if they’re using collars. You’d be surprised.
While it may seem beneficial to skip throwing the collars on in order to save time, it’s one of the most dangerous short cuts you can take in the gym.
The collars serve an important purpose: keeping the weight on the bar, and making sure it’s distributed evenly.
When the bar moves during your lift, the weights can move around as well. Without collars, the plates will tend to move away from the center, throwing off the center of gravity of your load.
Imagine yourself hitting a new PR on the bench, with the bar above your chest, when the load unexpectedly shifts. Now instead of just focusing on pushing the weight, you’re forced to contend with it being off-balance as well.
Even if this scenario is unlikely to happen, it only takes one time to suffer a serious injury. The collars exist for a reason: use them, every time.
Tip #2: Perfect Your Form With Lighter Weight
Let’s face it: we all want to lift heavy. Part of it is because we want to see progress, but it’s undeniable that a huge part is fueled by a desire to impress others in the gym.
Trying to impress people in the gym is a one-way ticket straight to Snap City. Instead, focus on using lighter weight and keeping perfect form.
Form is foundational to improving your strength and gaining mass, and is the biggest factor in contributing to injuries.
There are only two types of people that you’ll see with bad form in the gym: idiots and pro’s. The idiots are using bad form because they don’t know any better, and if a pro is using what you think is ‘bad form’, there’s probably a reason for it.
If you’re neither an idiot or a pro, lighten up on the weight and keep your form perfect. Your body will thank you for it.
Tip #3: Accessorize
This one should go without saying, but using the proper equipment can help keep you injury free.
Gloves and Straps can protect your hands and keep you from unintentionally dropping the weight.
Knee Sleeves and Wraps are good for keeping healthy knees, especially under heavy loads while squatting, lunging or deadlifting.
However, the most foundational accessory to help prevent injuries will always be the weightlifting belt. A properly-fitted weightlifting belt will protect your core and lower back. Talk to anyone that’s been lifting a long time, and they’ll tell you that the most damaging injury to a weight lifter’s progression is almost always a back injury.
Keep your back protected with a Premium Quality Weightlifting Belt.
Tip #4: Use a Buddy
Look, we get it: you got into weightlifting because you’re a loner that hates team-sports, and you don’t want to talk to anyone.
You want to go in the gym with your headphones on and grind through your workout without so much as making eye contact with the receptionist, let alone ask for help.
But the truth is, often times you’ll need some help, so don’t be afraid to ask. You may feel intimidated at first, but we promise that any serious lifter will gladly give you assistance if you ask.
While you may think this only applies to asking for a spotter when hitting a PR on bench, you can also ask for help with perfecting your form on a certain exercise, or getting someone to record your lifts so you can better see where you need improvements.
And who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend or long-term gym buddy to help you out when needed.
Tip #5: Slow Down
This is another one of those counterintuitive tips that sounds wrong, but is actually good advice. After all, you’re trying to get through your workout as quickly as possible, right? And a rep is a rep, right?
In reality, it’s not so black and white.
While slowing down can keep you from injuring tendons and ligaments, it’s also been shown to increase muscle growth.
The secret is what’s called Time Under Tension, or TUT for short. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain or load per set. The greater the TUT, the more you’re working the muscle.
So 8 reps done slowly can have just as much impact as 15 reps done quickly, but without all the additional risk found in moving quickly.
Nobody likes getting injured, especially not weightlifters. Not only can an injury set you back weeks or months in the gym, it can also be damaging to your mental health.
By sticking to the tips found in this article, you can help keep yourself free of injury for most, if not all of your bodybuilding journey.