Having a home gym is awesome, and makes it so much easier to get a good workout in every day, but, that also means that you are going to likely be working out alone. This increases the chance that you can hurt yourself, which is something no one wants. So, what can you do to avoid and prevent any injuries when you are working out at home?
Get a Good Warm Up and Cool Down
Making sure that you are warmed up before you start your workout is one of the most important things that you can do for any workout, both at home and at the gym. Making sure that you are stretching out your muscles, loosening them before your workout, and jogging slowly are all critical ways to warm up before a workout. This helps prepare your muscles for the workout ahead and gets your heart beating, meaning more blood is flowing throughout your body. All of this helps reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself when working out.
It is the same for when you are finishing up your workouts. You have to stretch out your muscles again to get them to relax and slowly jog to help your heart transition from fast beating during a workout to the slow beating of a resting heartbeat. It is recommended that you take at least 5 to 10 minutes when warming up and cooling down in order to prevent any injuries.
A smart approach to warming up and cooling down is to just slowly transition from a resting state into your full workout. So if you plan to go running, start by walking, then move to a slow jog, a standard jog, and eventually into your run. When cooling down, do that in reverse.
Form Is Critical
After getting in a good warmup, the next most important thing that you are going to want to do is make sure that you are doing all of your exercises in perfect form. There are a number of different benefits that you will see from using the proper form, including more efficient workouts, but most important is the fact that it decreases the odds of hurting yourself.
When starting a new workout or exercise, you will want to take it slow and easy at first in order to learn the right form and eventually move on to heavier weights or more intensive exercises. Improper form can put pressure on your joints and is more likely to cause lingering injuries. Don’t be afraid to ask those you know for help to make sure you are using the proper form. If you don’t have anyone around to ask for help. Consider getting a personal trainer who can assist by recommending workouts and helping you build up good workout habits.
Having proper posture throughout the day can also prevent back and shoulder pain you feel when working out as well.
Wear The Proper Shoes
There is a reason that you should wear good shoes that have arch support and are designed for working out. With most other shoes you aren’t going to be able to receive support for your feet, and likely are going to be inhibiting yourself. Having proper arch support makes your workout more comfortable and helps prevent inflammation and injury.
If you are doing high-impact workouts that are tough on your knees and other joints, then you are going to want to get a pair of shoes that have support and cushioning in them. There are a variety of different options where you can find the perfect shoes, ranging from some of the best with companies like NIKE and ADIDAS, but there are plenty of great options that are more cost-friendly as well.
And Proper Clothes
Along with wearing the right shoes, you will want to make sure you are wearing the proper clothes. While you can work out wearing a suit or dress, it is just going to be more difficult, less effective, and increase the likelihood that you end up hurting yourself. Wearing standard workout clothes helps blood flow, and allows for movements that can help keep you safe when you are working out.
Again, just like with shoes, you can go and get the nicest workout clothes you can find and get the most expensive equipment and accessories. But there are plenty of inexpensive options you can go with that will work just as well.
When you are working out, there are a number of different materials that you are going to avoid. These surfaces include:
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use any of these as your floor material in your home gym, but you are just going to want to make sure that you have some sort of mat that will help you avoid slipping while working out. This is one of the most common injuries people have when working out at home. People think they are fine, just to start an intensive workout, slipping, and seriously injuring themselves.
Something like a standard yoga mat is ideal in order to prevent slipping accidents and injuries. You can choose either a thick exercise mat or a yoga mat. Whatever works better for you, as both provide stability for your workouts and decrease the likelihood that you end up hurting yourself. Exercise or yoga mats are especially helpful to have when you are doing workouts such as:
- Russian Twists
- Leg Raises
- Mountain Climbers
- Any exercise lying down
Don’t Overwork Yourself
Making sure that you don’t overwork yourself and listening to your body is critical to preventing any sort of injury. Another common time that people will injure themselves is when they are getting to the end of their workout. This is because your muscles are tired and not able to hold as much as when you were just getting started. These tired muscles can easily get torn or pulled, which will result in an injury that can last for a long time, just because you didn’t listen to your muscles when they said they were done.
You never want to push yourself too hard when you can call it a day and just come back again in a day or two and work the muscles again. Calling it a day before your muscles are completely out of energy is always going to be the better option. This is because you give yourself an opportunity to continue another day, while an injury can sideline you for weeks.
The saying “No pain, no gain” does not always apply when working out, as pushing yourself too far is what will lead to an injury and lots of pain down the road. You also will lose a lot of the progress you made in your previous workouts while recovering.
Listen to Your Body
One way to avoid overworking yourself is to make sure that you are listening to your muscles. You need to be able to tell when your muscles are telling you that they are done and can’t do anymore. This can take some practice to tell the difference between a tired pain and an almost injured pain, but it is typically recommended that you play it safe to prevent injury.
You also are going to want to listen to your body when it begins to tell you that it is tired and can’t do much more. Because it is during this time when you are tired that your form starts to suffer. As I covered earlier, having bad form greatly increases the amount of stress on your joints and the likelihood that you end up hurting yourself.
Don’t Use Too Much Weight
The last main aspect that you are going to want to make sure so that you don’t overwork yourself is to avoid using too much weight when you are lifting. This can tire out your muscles quicker and places a lot of stress on your joints. The later into your workout you are, the greater the chance that you end up injuring yourself becomes.
Adding more weight to the workouts you have done before is good, as it means you are getting stronger, but you should only increase the amount of weight by a few pounds each time. This is to avoid any chance of injuring yourself while working out.
Personalize Your Workout Routine
When you are working out, you don’t want to have the exact same routine every single day. There are a number of reasons that you don’t want to do the same workout every single day. The biggest reason is the fact that you are going to just be targeting the same muscles every day when doing this, giving them no chance to rest, and increasing the chance of hurting yourself.
So, instead of having leg day every single day, you are going to want to have a rotation of three or four different workout routines that target different muscles that you can alternate through. This will help you have a more balanced workout, give your tired muscles more time to recover, and won’t be as monotonous.
Let Your Body Recover
Along with listening to your body and not pushing it too hard when working out, you are also going to want to make sure that you are letting your muscles recover. While you might be able to do an intensive workout every day when you were in your early 20s, as you get older it takes time for your muscles to fully heal and be prepared to go again.
So, after a hard workout, when you wake up and your muscles are feeling sore, you should not go and do another intensive workout. Either take a rest day in order to let your body recover, or do a very light day that is just at your warmup level of intensity. Along with this, you are going to want to help your body recover faster, which can be done fairly easily through having a number of healthy habits.
Hydration & Sleep
Some of the biggest things that you can do in order to help your body recover from your workouts and help prevent any injury is to make sure that you are drinking a lot of water and getting lots of sleep at night. Water is going to be important because as you work out you are going to be sweating, and if you don’t have enough fluids, it can cause you to become nauseated and distracted. Typically you are going to want to be drinking between 3 to 4 (12 to 16 cups) liters of water a day in order to be fully hydrated.
Along with this, you are going to be wanting to get plenty of rest. It is while you are sleeping that your body is going to be making the most recovery, so making sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night will give plenty of time for you to recover from your workouts.
Have a Balanced Diet
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that you’re also going to want to make sure that you are getting the right nutrients into your body. Having a proper diet will give you everything that you need to build up your body and help you recover from your workouts. This guide from Harvard is the best example of how your plate should look when you do have meals.
If you are looking for an example of what you should eat while intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet is one that many researchers recommend as it provides everything that you might need in a balanced amount. Along with this, any leafy greens, healthy fats, lean protein and complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains are all healthy options to include.