Although resistance training is safer than most people think, all forms of training have an inherent risk of injury. Fortunately, nearly all of these injuries can be avoided by following these ten common-sense recommendations offered by Charles Staley, a famous sports and strength coach and expert:
1. Don’t lift weights alone. Accidents can be avoided when a training partner is there to help.Bench pressing is particularly dangerous— many have died after becoming trapped under a weight they couldn’t lift back up. If you must bench alone, use dumbbells or a machine press.
2. Don’t lift weights unless you know what you’re doing. Seek qualified supervision so that you can get the most out of your training efforts, and stay safe in the process.
3. Don’t lift heavier than what your program calls for. Doing maximum-effort lifts (for any number of reps) can be dangerous, are not necessary, and have little place in most athlete’s training programs, except for occasional tests of maximum strength. As a general rule of thumb, leave 2-4 reps to spare on every set.
4. Don’t use training with weights right before skill training. Fatigue resulting from the weights will hamper your efforts at acquiring/improving skill, so do your skill training on days when no skill training is taking place.
5. Don’t train your legs with weights before running or jumping rope. Tired leg muscles (from squatting and other leg exercises) mean that your hip and knee joints are not as protected, and these activities create too much shock and jarring of these joints.
6. Don’t neglect to use safety equipment. Locking collars, proper training attire, solidly built equipment, and adequate space are all-important for accident-free training.
7. Don’t leave weights scattered on the floor or leaning against the walls or equipment. The single biggest cause of gym injuries is failure to put weights back on their storage racks. Keep a neat & tidy gym to avoid injuries.
8. Take a moment to make eye contact with anyone else lifting nearby before heavy lifts that require your total concentration (such as squats, power cleans, or deadlights). Doing so will let them know to stay at a distance so that you can concentrate on lifting, rather than whether or not someone is going to “walk into you” during a heavy set. This sort of thing happens more often than you think, especially in commercial gyms.
9. Don’t neglect any part of your body. Your training program should address every major muscle group so that a solid foundation can be developed. A neglected muscle means that you will have a weakness— a recipe for injury.
10. Don’t try to unload a bar one end at a time. Taking weights off the bar on one side only causes the other side to become unbalanced and fall (or more often, catapult) from the rack—sometimes with great speed and force. Be safe and unload plates from the bar by alternating ends.