Weight Training Routine Tips by Nick
By Nick, Blue Wave's Level-2 Live Better Advisor
Like so many regular weight trainers, I started to develop pain in one of my elbows. This pain would typically start to flare up whenever I performed pressing or pulling movements. It got particularly bad during heavy bench press and tricep push downs. At first, the pain was only minor so I pushed through my sessions at normal intensities. Over time, the pain became worse and eventually started to negatively affect my performance. In hindsight, I should never have ignored the initial pain. A niggle is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. If you ignore it, then it’s likely going to compound and get progressively worse over time. Lucky for me, I started dealing with it relatively early so avoided any serious injury.
Here’s a list of changes I made to my routine which (touch wood) seem to have dealt with the issue.
1. Increased warm up: It’s important to raise your core temperature before you weight train. If I was running late or pressed for time, I would sometimes just do dynamic stretches and light sets of whatever exercise I was planning on doing before I started lifting. This isn’t best practice. Always aim for at least 10 minutes of progressive cardio followed by some dynamic stretches to prepare the body for exercise (1).
2. Cable extensions: As the elbow was a problem area for me, I added some slow (light to medium intensity) cable extensions at the end of the warm up. This helped make sure the area was prepared for heavier movements. I did 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each arm with a neutral grip.
3. Equal development: When training biceps, I tended to use dumbbells more than barbells. This ensured equal development of each bicep however, I noticed when I was training triceps, I opted for the rope, straight bar or barbells. It turns out my tricep on one arm was weaker than the other and consequently overloaded during exercises involving both arms. This could have over time also caused an injury to my stronger tricep which was routinely having to pick up the slack. I started doing a lot more single arm cable work which helped promote equal development and symmetry.
4. Stretches: I noticed that my forearms and triceps were tight. I had been neglecting stretching these body parts at the end of sessions - focusing more often than not on larger muscle groups. I started incorporating some static stretches focusing specifically on these areas, usually 2-3 sets per stretch with 20-30 second holds.
If you’ve got an injury then always be sure to see a qualified physiotherapist. However, the above principles of adding sufficient warms ups, identifying and strengthening muscular imbalances and promoting flexibility are general principles to help prevent and rehabilitate certain injuries.