How You Get Injured in the Gym

by Juan Antonio

Chris Gardner: This part of my life is called “Internship.”

Frakesh: Your board exam. Last year, we had an intern score a 96.4 percent on the written exam. He wasn’t chosen. It’s not a simple pass-fail. It’s an evaluation tool we use to separate applicants. Be safe, score a hundred.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

If you’ve been watching our MOS Vlogs, you’ll notice I’ve been lifting some heavy weights lately with my friend Superproducer DeShawn Davis.

Yes, DeShawn will suffice.

It’s always an interesting field trip going to a commercial gym as I find myself either inspired or dying inside every time I go.

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I’m inspired when I see the heavy-set fellow pushing himself on an incline walk. That look of determination on his face as he sweats his ass off gives me hope that he’ll make it through his body fat loss journey. I can’t help but smile at brave people working hard to get better.

I die inside when I see random yahoos trying to pick up on chicks with that lame, “Can I show you how to properly do this exercise?” opener.

Or worse, when I see people doing unnecessarily random shit.

Looking for “dates” and “gym fails” are to be expected in western gyms, but as truck loads of people are getting ready to randomly sign up/re-sign up to gyms for the New Year, one thing above all else has me worried:

gym go-ers who exceed their current fitness capacity.

This is how clear it can be – Rule #1: Do. Not. Get. Caught. (Don’t get injured)

A lot of people are going to injure themselves long before February 13, 2016 rolls around. Here are the four most common ways people injure themselves in the gym.

1.  Lifting Too Heavy.

If you’re a guy, chances are you’re guilty of this one.

(Yes, women are guilty of not lifting weights that are heavy enough, but I’ll save that for another time.)

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Do you see 5 points of contact here?

For some unknown reason, you go to the gym one day and you find yourself loading the bar or picking some dumbbells that you know are too heavy for you. Why do you do this?

Is it because your workout buddy is saying, “No pain, no gain!” or “Go big or go home right!?”

Because seeing other people lift heavier weights has you feeling insecure – like you’re “weak” compared to them?

Lack of patience due to poor progress?

At the end of the day, you must earn the right to lift heavy weights.

You earn that right by giving your body the time and respect to get progressively stronger.

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If you haven’t benched pressed since high school, it’s perfectly okay to start with the empty 45lb olympic bar.

Seriously, what’s the rush?

Unless someone is paying you serious big bucks to lift heavy weights as quickly as possible, slow down and take your time.

All it takes to avoid getting injured lifting heavy weights it to leave your ego at the gym entrance.

Most people are too into their own workouts/phones/selfies to care about what you’re doing in the gym. So if you’re lifting to impress someone, it better be yourself because I’ll tell you a secret: 98% of women don’t care whether or not you can lift weight heavy weights.

If anything, more guys will compliment you on your hard lifting capabilities…

Pause?”

2.  Lifting With Poor Form and Technique.

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Don’t be that guy.

Here’s my simple guide for proper form: If you can’t lift the weight with stellar control and near perfect form, you have no business lifting it.

I’ll tell you what Chris Gardner’s boss told him in The Pursuit of Happyness, “Be safe, score a hundred.”

You injury yourself for the simple reason that your body isn’t ready to handle the heavy load.

You can try to force your body to be ready all you want, but it won’t work. It’s either ready or it’s not. All you can do is try to get your body ready for heavy weights.

Give your body the chance to learn how to properly move the bar/learn the exercise.

If you don’t know who to squat, pick up a copy of Strength Training Anatomy and start learning about the exercises you want to perform. 

If fact, I’ll argue that just learning how to properly bench press, squat, lunge, pull down, and overhead can keep you busy for a few years and is enough to reach most fitness goals. 

3.  Going Too Fast.

I think we’ve all guilty of this one. One day you’re doing some walk lunges with just your bodyweight across the room and the next day you’re doing box jumps onto an 18” box. Or instead of going for a 30 minute uphill walk to start your fitness journey, you insist on running 5 miles – all the while ignoring that you haven’t run in months.

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How did you make that leap in intensity?

I know that fitness magazines tell you to do crazy circuit XYZ, but you know those magazines never met you before right? They don’t know what you can do and what you can’t do right now. 

That “workout” wasn’t designed for you or with you in mind. It was designed to fill up space on a page and give you the illusion that this “latest” and “newest” workout is what your body needs.

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All those magazine workouts are a fugazi.

You don’t need them. You simply need to start with baby steps and build from there.

I know you want to lose as much body fat as quickly as you can, but your body is going to progress on it’s schedule, not yours.

You going on a 5 mile run on pavement is asking for a lot of pounding on your knees, ankles, hips and lower back (and a guaranteed bout with shin splints).

Unnecessary pounding leads to aches and pains. Aches and pains lead to structural weaknesses. Structural weaknesses lead to pulled muscles and tendons/ligaments tearing.

Getting injured leaves you feeling insanely disappointed with yourself.

I know running and jumping on a box looks cool and may not seem like much, but your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints remember all these intensity jumps just like your car remembers all those speed bumps you ran through.

Playing with intensity has consequences. It’s best that you know what you’re doing with intensity.

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If you don’t want to worry about proper intensity for cardio work or lifting weights, let 24/7 Coach do all the thinking for you now and in the future.

If you’re body isn’t ready to run, why force it to run?

Sure, humans are designed to run, but do you even like running?

In this day in age, walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, walk/jogging, shadow boxing all attack body fat. The choices are endless.

And the best part is, the choice is yours.

The real question then is, “What can I consistently commit to doing 2-3x a week for 20-60min?

When in doubt, just remember that we all must go through these four stages: crawl, walk, run, fly. (beginner-intermediate-advanced-special forces level)

MLK-quote-crawl-walk-run-fly.bringbackfit.com

There’s no way around it, I can promise you that. 

4.  Doing Too Much.

In one short sentence, tell me, what’s your big picture fitness goal?

My big picture fitness goal is ______________.

If you’re like most people I talk to, you probably jotted down some variation of “have less body fat/have more lean muscle.”

Look at your goal. Nowhere in your goal did you write, “run half-marathons, do Crossfit workouts, break bench press records, finish ultra Spartan races” or “be a bootcamp champion.”

If you did, all I would ask you is, “Are you willing to do the necessary work to get there?”

It’s a Yes or No question.

If the answer is No, then let’s be real: you’re not being realistic. If the answer is Yes, I salute you. Good luck.

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Back to working towards having less body fat and more lean muscle…

You don’t have to run, do WODs, bench press or do 6AM bootcamps to lose body fat.

If you want to, that’s great and I support you. What’s more important is that you do something that involves physical movement. I don’t care if it’s yoga, walking uphill, jiu-jitsu, tai chi or lifting weights – the key is that you do your chosen movement activity consistently.

I know you think “consistently” means the next month, but I want you to start thinking “the next 3-10 years.”

I’ve been running for +10 years, lifting for +10 years and writing for +10 years – is it really any surprise I’m going to out-run, out-lift you and out-write you?

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Yes, I’m asking you to slow down and narrow your focus.

I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear if you’re serious about your reaching your goals.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, simply slowing down and focusing is what will bring you closer to your fitness goal.

It’s not about lifting the heaviest weights, running the fastest/furthest or doing the most advanced exercises known to man – it’s about keeping your big picture fitness goal front and center:

(Lose. Body. Fat.) or (Build. More. Lean. Muscle.)

 It’s hard to lose body fat / build lean muscle when you’re injured and can’t exercise.

Don’t Be That Guy

Your other option is to be a dabbler.

You’ve met a dabbler before.

It’s the type of person who hops into a “skinny jeans” group fitness class because it’s “the most popular class.” But then decides to give CrossFit a whirl after seeing the latest Reebok commercial

The next time you see them, they’re trying Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) classes they have no desire being in, because you know, “MMA athletes are the fittest people on the planet!”

I’m a fan of fun and variety, but I’m a bigger fan of results.

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The sad part is, when you eventually run into the dabbler some time down the road, they’re perpetually looking for that perfect triathlon bike, perfect running shoe, perfect workout playlist or perfect pre-workout supplement that will finally give them “the physical edge” with exercise.

Here’s a fitness truth that will set you free and save you hours of your life: the physical edge doesn’t exist out there (in external objects), it exists in here (in your mind).

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that dabblers are perpetually stuck chasing their goal(s).

Do you want to chase your fitness goal like a dog chases its tail, or do you want to reach it like a carousel rider grabbing the brass ring?

Make a decision. And live with your decision.

There is only trained and untrained.

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Saul Juan Antonio Cuautle
Founder & CEO

Friends don’t let friends mindlessly “workout.” Friends help and support each other. Help your friends as they try to make positive changes in their life. Give them the gift of 24/7 Coach. If you know of anyone who may benefit from this content, please share it with them. 

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