In the first two installments of this series, we discussed why improper programming and periodization can actually hurt you. Last but not least, here is the third of three reasons why people get hurt in the gym: preparation.
Let me start by asking a simple question. Are you getting hurt in the gym because you’re not properly prepared for the workout ahead of you? I vividly recall one of many weekly staff meetings I had when I was a coaching intern at Cressey Sports Performance in Jupiter, Florida. In this one in particular, we were discussing our athletes and checking in with each other on their progress, and a fellow coach told us about how one of our high school athletes mentioned excitedly that his back no longer hurt during his workout.
The difference? This athlete, one of our strongest kids, had been pushing a huge amount of weight, but he always skipped his warm-up. The week before the meeting, we made sure that he actually did his warm-up in its entirety, and like voodoo, his back pain disappeared. Sometimes, things really are not that complicated!
I never like to jump into a workout cold turkey, and neither should anyone else. If you’re as stiff as the Tin-man, you will move like the Tin-man, until you get yourself oiled. Try to push into the end-range of your movement without working yourself slowly into it, and you will crumble like the Tin-man. High five for the Wizard of Oz reference. When it comes to warming up, there are two main objectives everyone should keep in mind: increasing body temperature, and patterning good movement. “Greasing the groove” also extends beyond the first 10 minutes of your workout as well. If you are squatting heavy today, hopefully you plank to warm up with some unloaded squat mobilizations, and please by all means make sure that the very first set you do under the bar is not with the enormous amount of weight you intend to count as part of your work sets.
This rounds up our series on why people get hurt in the gym. So what should you take away from all this? Remember that soreness is okay, but pain is not. As you gain more training experience, you will begin to appreciate that there are different levels of soreness, and that it is actually completely normal to make progress in the absence of it. You will also become more aware of how much is too much, and if soreness becomes pain, I encourage you to evaluate your gym routine on the basis of these 3 P’s—programming, periodization and preparation. By doing these checks and balances, hopefully you gain a better understanding of your own fitness and your training so that you can continue doing so for the long haul!
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.