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Taking Care of Your Body in The Gym

By: John Beith - Updated: 27 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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There are a lot of benefits to joining a gym or health club as opposed to working out at home. Of course there is a huge range of expensive equipment for you to use, but it's no use having all that equipment if you don't know how to use it properly. One of the main plusses in using a gym, is most gyms employ properly trained staff who will help you find an exercise programme that is right for you and help you get the most benefit from your workout.

Out of all the equipment in the gym that is available to you, there is one that must be kept well maintained and in good condition-your body! It's no good having paid health club fees, to have thousands of pounds worth of equipment available to you if you can't use it because you are always injured.

Ways to help take care of your body and prevent injuries include:

Warm Up and Cool Down

Studies have shown a warm up before starting your exercise programme and a cooling down routine after you finish exercising is vital in preventing muscle and ligament damage. Your warm up can be stretching, light jogging, walking, any activity that gets the blood flowing to your muscles. Increased blood flow to the muscles makes them suppler and more easily stretched. If doing weight training the warm up should consist of a serious of ten repetitions with a moderate weight or empty bar.

The longer you workout the longer your warm up and warm down exercises should be. Generally speaking a 10 minute warm up and cool down period before your workout is usually long enough.

The cool down is performed to bring the heart rate back to normal and to help with soreness that occurs after training. The cool down helps the body get rid of toxins that can build up when exercising and it also helps the body get rid of lactic acid.

Technique

Use good technique. Ask for instruction on how to use every piece of equipment you think you may use in the gym. Poor technique is one of the main causes of injury in the gym. Having good technique will speed up your progress and you will see benefits sooner. When using weights lift smoothly don't use jerking motions. Start slowly and gradually build up.

Make sure you are wearing proper clothing and appropriate footwear for your workout. Wear loose fitting clothing don't wear anything tight that may restrict your movement.

Don't Overuse or Overload

A common mistake beginners make is to try and progress too quickly. Trying to lift large weights, or training too frequently and for too long are sure fire ways to land an injury. When you're in the gym don't try and compete with other people round about you. Stick to your programme, it's been based on an assessment of your level of fitness and ability.

Don't exercise every single day. The body needs time to rest and recover, muscles need 48 hours rest to fully recover between workouts. On average you should at least take two full days off a week, and don't do the same set of exercises on consecutive days. You'll probably be familiar with the phrase "No pain No gain" well exercise is about pushing yourself to improve and progress. There is a huge difference between fatigue and pain. If you feel pain when exercising then something is wrong you should stop the workout and tell your instructor immediately.

Overuse is one of the main causes of injury. The muscles don't get enough recovery time and they are prone to tear or pull. Don't try to train with an injury if you haven't had it checked out by your doctor and been given the okay to continue.

Food and Drink

Exercising and working out regularly places extra demands on your body. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and don't eat junk foods. Liquid intake is important, as dehydration puts a strain on the body. Always drink enough water a couple of hours before exercising to replace the fluid you will lose through sweat. When exercising make sure you always have a supply of water handy. Health drinks after training are a good way to replace some of the lost fluid and can help the muscles recover more quickly.

With any physical activity injuries can occur but using some of these guidelines should mean you can workout safely for years to come.

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