5 tips lifted from 54 years of training
When I think over my long career, the number one question I get asked is, “How have you been able to train for more than 50 years without a single injury?” This question has become important to me, as I have noticed many of my fellow trainers incurring many injuries. We have devoted our lives to helping people, but sometimes don’t follow our own wisdom. Here are some things I have learned in my long journey that may help you have a lifetime of injury-free training.
Think Long Term
When I talk to young trainers I find most have a narrow short-term vision of training longevity. It’s hard when you are young to think of how you are going to train when you are 60 years of age for example. “I often tell these people, you have made it to 40, now what are you going to do from 40 to 80?” Training is a lifelong endeavor. Start to slowly to adjust your thinking; it will change your vision.
Less is More
Most trainers I meet are chronically over trained. The more is better approach is the cause of many injuries. Your body changes with age and if you don’t adjust your training volume problems will result. As I wrote in a previous article, I stressed that you should be resting more than you’re working. Get a calendar mark the days you train. At the end of the month you should have more rest days than workdays.
Forget the Fads
I have seen every type of program in fitness come… and go. I will do a future article on these programs. Many are dangerous and don’t work. Some yoga and core training programs feature exercises which are actually shredding the back and spine muscles. I was once in a yoga class when the instructor insisted I try to put my foot behind my head! How many times in your daily routine do you put your foot behind your head? A little known fact is, a joint can be too flexible. Joint stability is lost if you are too flexible. We are experts on how the body functions, so be sure your training includes exercises that will assist in your daily life.
Stick with the Tried and True
There are many exercises that have stood the test of time for a reason—because they are tried and true. And then there are exercises, in my opinion, that should be avoided as they can increase the risk of injury in not only joints but also muscles.
- Avoid any exercises that have you press or pull the bar behind your head. Examples are, press behind the neck, and pull downs behind the neck.
- Try to do shoulder exercises where you are not pressing your weights over your head. Do various lateral raises, modified upright rows that stress delts instead of traps for ex-ample. After training thousands of people, I have concluded, the single biggest factor in shoulder injuries is when too many overhead-pressing movements are done.
- Heavy dips with weight are not necessarily needed as they can be hard on the shoulders, and over develops the lower pec area.
- Squats below parallel should never be done. Half or bench squats safer to the knees and lower back.
Focus on Free Weights
The single biggest factor in my own training being injury free is 80% of my exercises are done with free weights. When you train with free weights, your stabilizers and core muscles are getting a tremendous workout just by lifting a weight. Not to mention, overall balance is honed. Do a clean and press with an Olympic Bar. Every muscle in your body is working to balance and stabilize the weight. Even with the great strides in ma-chines, they are balancing the weight for you. Some don’t fit your anatomy, and feel uncomfortable. Nothing can replace free weights if they are used properly. They are magic wands in the right hands. I only use machines when I am doing physical therapy to nurse a client back from an injury. If you apply some of these tips I have written, you will be on your way to 54 years of injury free training.
Has been involved in health, fitness and bodybuilding for more than four decades. In his twenties Don launched one of the first one-on-one personal training businesses in Los Angeles. He authored and produced several training manuals as well as an audiotape series called a New Tone with Cestone. These manuals and tapes were a distillation of Don’s training, nutritional, and motivation principles.