is no more. Please bookmark our new site:!
Powered by MaxBlogPress  

Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

Hyper-Extensions Are Always Necessary

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I learned this the hard way, and my experience and short tale is for you to learn and avoid future mistakes. Never avoid doing this key lower-back exercise, or you will highly regret it.

So, let’s rewind back a year ago and beyond that. I was training at a local gym for 7 years straight, till I finally decided to plunk down the cash and buy a squat rack for the home. After saving up non-stop, my wish finally came true and I was the proud owner of a Powertec squat rack system. Long story short, I bought the rack, Olympic bar, weights and a tree-stand to organize the weights. Notice in this equation that a hyper-extension bench is not present. See, I didn’t have enough saved up for it, so I thought to myself, “whatever, I’ll pick it up in the future when I have the funds.”

I should have bought the hyper-extension bench and dealt with the weights thrown all over the floor instead.

Within a month or two my lower back weakened tremendously, and one day it just decided to crap out on me while squatting. Luckily for me, I managed to put the bar back safely onto the rack, but my lower back never felt the same after that incident. Doing squats, deadlifts or anything heavy just wasn’t pleasant for my back. I had to take some time off as much as I was against it. Fortunately for me, over the course of the summer, I had other ways of staying active and fit, so taking some time off weight training wasn’t that bad.

Fast forward two months ago from today. After letting my lower back heal and watching everything I do with it (picking up things from the floor, moving stuff, sleeping, etc) I felt ready to lift weights again. I started off slow and always made sure to keep my back “straight” (that is, arced). Today, I am back up to 90% of my strength, but I have a lot of trouble doing rows.

The moral of this story? Don’t skimp out on the hyper-extensions. They may not be fun to do, but they’re damn-sure necessary. Your lower back can’t always be indirectly trained on its own and needs some direct work, especially when you deal with higher weights.

I decided to go ahead and purchase the hyper-extension machine as the funds were available. It should be coming in this week. Lesson learned.

Lifting Incorrectly

Friday, May 25th, 2007

One of the things I have noticed (through myself) is that people always try to lift heavier weight but at the same time perform the exercises incorrectly, usually with bad form or technique. This ends up causing serious injury, especially when it comes to squats or the power clean. For example, when squatting, rookies a lot of people stop squatting above parallel (instead of performing “Ass To Grass” squats) in hopes of lifting heavier weight. Most advanced trainers know that stopping above parallel is dangerous, inefficient and useless. A lot of trainees also maintain incorrect form by forgetting to keep their knees outwards when squatting down and not leaving a shoulder’s width between their feet. I have also witnessed some people simply going down a few inches from the starting point when squatting (referred to as “quarter squats” among the community) which is quite simply, a wasted workout. Usually, these people who start off on the wrong foot have a hard time fixing their technique since they feel discouraged when they downgrade the weight on the bar. They must know that when you actually perform the lifts correctly, you are going to get more efficient results than simply lifting heavy weights. You will only get stronger if you build the base correctly (meaning, utilize the full potential of your muscles). In other words, use the full range of your muscles to achieve optimum results. When you squat all the way down, you are actually using all of your hamstrings potential to build better muscle.

More than two months ago, I learned the above the hard way when I was performing the squats incorrectly and this resulted in me experiencing a slight pain in my hamstrings. For the next month and a half, I had a hard time performing the squats because of this pain. Until I realized my form was to blame, I wasted more than a month performing incorrect squatting techniques. To fix my problem, I re-read the squat section in the Starting Strength book and figured out what I was doing wrong (my knees were too inward). Coupled with some key stretching exercises, I was back in the squatting game and have been lifting heavier since with the proper form. Sometimes you need to re-evaluate your exercise techniques to make sure you’re getting the best out of your workouts.

How To Prevent Injury

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Two months ago, I had a minor injury occur on my hamstring, which resulted in me not being able to squat, deadlift or power clean for a whole month. I decided not to do any leg exercises for a whole four weeks to let my hamstring recover. This, of course, could’ve been avoided if I had taken the necessary precautions to prevent injury while strength training. I learned my lesson at the time and swore to never repeat that same mistake. By following the guidelines below, you can hinder the possibility of injuring yourself in the future. Without further ado, here’s the short list:

  1. Always perform warm ups before your exercises. Warming up allows your muscles to get ready to the exercises’ motions and oncoming weight increases. By getting your muscles warmed up and increasing your heart rate, you are preparing your muscles for activity and letting them know that you’re about to use them. On Rippetoe’s routine, you should always warm up with an empty bar and then gradually increase the weights slowly until your work sets. Take a look at the warming up page for more information on how to properly warm up.
  2. Make sure you’re 100% certain you can lift the weight. I’ve seen it too many times and it’s happened to me on one occasion (that resulted in my injury!): people (usually newbies) get too cocky and load up more weight on the bar then they can handle. Besides witnessing weights tumble down onto the floor, the unlucky ones will receive a jolt of pain in specific muscles. My advice: increase your weights slowly and don’t rush anything. Remember, there’s always the next workout to increase in weight!
  3. Stretch your muscles after every workout. Usually overlooked and forgotten, stretching after your workouts will help with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which is basically next-day soreness and/or pain (a lot of rookies new to training will feel it). Stretching is beneficial for keeping your muscles happy, as it allows your muscles to strengthen, increase the range within a joint, and more blood and oxygen to pass through (thanks to the mechanical means of stretching the muscle). This way, future cramps are prevented and you’ll be ready for your next workout without (much) pain. Sometimes people also tend to stretch before their workouts. I consider this good practice as well and highly recommend it to start off your training on the right foot.