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from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2003  

When to Say When
Workout strategies to avoid injury

I'm typing this in almost complete comfort, five days, FIVE DAYS after attending my first body pump class.

For the past five days, straightening my arms has been excruciating, lifting anything out of the question, and typing - that little thing I have to do all day every day -- has ended in charley horses and no end of whimpering.

I have done this before. A few times. A lot. I take on a new form of exercise, overdo it, and get hurt. No one is impressed, because this is stupid behavior. Getting hurt is not noble. Playing through the pain is the surest way to damage my body, at least temporarily, perhaps permanently.

I worked out so hard I took myself out of play. Haven't been able to exercise for days, use stairs, lift bags. And all because of one class when I used some pre-reasoning part of my mind to decide I could keep up with everybody else. Keep up with people accustomed to these movements, this form of exercise.

Ego. And a little ignorance tossed in for flavor.

I am used to working with very heavy weights, performing very few repetitions. I like working out this way, because it gives me bounce. It's fast. It's effective. It doesn't land me with lots of muscle, but gives everything else I do more pop. My muscles get a little bit sore, but not much, and only pleasantly so.

But in body pump classes, we use much lighter weights and perform lots and lots of controlled repetitions.

There's that word: control.

Here's the mistake I made: I made up my mind that just because I can lift quite heavy weights doing a few repetitions, to the point of muscle failure, I should be able to lift lighter weights doing lots of repetitions without any trouble at all. I waited for muscle failure, and it never came. I did a lot of damage while I waited, when I should have been looking for other cues to stop.

I quizzed some trainers this week and learned that knowing when to stop in bodypump is the same as for any mind-body work, the same for Pilates, the same for Yoga, the same for running: Monitor control. When you can no longer do the exercise with perfect form and control, you are either injuring yourself or introducing an opportunity for injury. Ease up or stop.

*If the bar is tipping because one side of you is stronger than the other, reduce your weight or stop.
*If you're shaking anywhere to complete the exercise, stop.
*If you're hurting anywhere during the exercise, and the pain increases as you go, stop.
*Reduce the weights, reduce the reps, or just stop.
*One instructor suggested that when you perceive your form or ability to be reduced by just 10% of your greatest capacity, you should stop. I'm not quite sure how I know when I've lost 10%, but at least I know to look for reduced ability.
*In a class like BodyPump, working to muscle failure is never the goal.

Stopping is hard to do in a class setting if you let your ego get in the way. But we have to learn to check our egos at the door. No one around us really cares about what we can do or can not do on any given day. Stopping and resting is not only smart, but it models intelligent behavior for everyone else. On the other hand, stopping before the person next to you does might give them a cheap thrill. Why not a random act of submission to make someone's day?

Funny, isn't it? Learning how to stop exercising?

Avoiding Injury, from Women Today
BodyPump Classes
Classic Weight Training for Women, from Krista

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posted by Julie |
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