Injuries are a bodybuilders worst enemy and need to be avoided at all cost. They not only cause pain and discomfort, but also can potentially take you out of the gym for a few days and impair your ability to perform certain exercises. In addition, once injured, it is very easy to get re-injured again on the same area. While the tips below may seem very simple and basic, even the most advanced of us tend to forget a few of these at one time or the other and that is when trouble can happen.
1. Wear appropriate workout clothing.Wear clothing that allows you to move all your body parts in a full range of motion. Restrictive clothing, like jeans for instance, would prevent you from performing an exercise such as the squats correctly and thus can lead to loss of balance and/or injury. Make sure that you also wear comfortable athletic shoes and always ensure they are tied.
2. When in doubt, ask for help.If you don't know how to perform an exercise or use a particular piece of equipment, please do not attempt to figure it out on your own. Either ask a trainer or knowledgeable gym member to help you or get an informative book to teach you correct exercise form.
3. Before you execute a lift, ensure all of the weight plates are secured.Be extremely careful with not securing the weights with collars in an Olympic Bars. There have been so many times situations where a person is executing an exercise and the weights on one side slide, fall off, and thus cause a total imbalance where the trainee ends up dropping the other side. This cannot only hurt you but can hurt others around you. Therefore, please secure your weights.
4. Warm up before you move on to heavier weights.I remember when I was a teenager and would start doing 225lbs on the bench press without a warm up. That was a bad idea. Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I do a couple of lighter sets prior to using my working weight. So for instance, if I am going to do a squat with 450 pounds for 6-8 reps, I start warming up with 200lbs for 8-10, 350lbs for 8-10 and then 450 for 6-8.
5. Practice perfect form.Leave the ego aside and practice perfect form. When you use heavier weights than what you can handle, your joints and bones are the ones that will take most of the stress. In addition, your form will probably be sacrificed. Bad form, combined with heavy weights, equals an injury waiting to happen. Perfect form will not only allow you to achieve faster results as your muscles will be doing most of the work, but also will prevent you from incurring into any injuries.
6. Use a safe lifting speed and avoid using momentum.Perform the exercises in a controlled manner and with no momentum. Jerking and bouncing of weights will only take away stress from the muscle and create sheer (pushing and pulling) forces in the joints, and muscle insertions, that can lead to injury. Use a tempo of 2 sec when lifting the weight and 3 sec when lowering (the lowering portion needs to be performed a bit slower than the lifting one). At first, you may need to count in your head but eventually lifting speed becomes second nature.
7. Be aware of your surroundings.You need to be aware of your surroundings whether you are performing an exercise or loading a bar. Make sure that there is no one standing in your path of execution. Along the same lines, ensure that the floor that you will be standing on is not slippery as I have seen situations where if there is a leak from the ceiling due to bad air conditioning or just a bad ceiling. In this case, inform someone from the staff and make sure that the soles of your shoes are not wet.
8. Stop exercising if you feel dizzy or like fainting.This is pretty self-explanatory but as you get more advanced one tends to disregard these things. If you are having a real difficulty breathing, sit down and rest for 3 minutes or so. If you see that you are sweating cold then you need to stop as you are about to go into shock. This typically happens in very hot environments, which takes me to the next commandment.
9. If training on a garage, try to train in the morning during hot months.Garages tend to get very hot during the summer. Do not try to workout in a place with a temperature that is well over 100 deg. That could lead to a heat stroke and that does not help with bodybuilding gains. If you train in your garage, then over the hot months you will need to wake up earlier and do your training when the temperature is manageable. Stay properly hydrated and also listen to your body. If you need to rest a bit more in between sets due to the heat, then feel free to do so.
10. If training alone in a garage be very aware of your capabilities & surroundings.When training alone in your garage it is more imperative than ever that you know what your capabilities are and that you be aware of your surroundings (refer to item #7). For instance if you have done 225lbs on the bench for 10 reps many times and know that is the best you can do, do not attempt to try an 11th rep unless you are absolutely positively sure that you can lift that weight or unless you are working out inside a squat rack with the side pins properly positioned to protect you.