Strength Athletes: Listen to Your Body, a Quick Mental Reminder

Listening to your body is one piece of advice that I give to many lifters that I myself struggle to adhere to daily. It’s easy to get caught up with wanting to train as hard as you can or wanting to compete as much as you can. There is nothing wrong with that; however, it can become a problem when you choose to ignore the red flags that your body is showing you.

Typically, in order to continually compete at a high level, there’s usually a great deal of adversity that one must overcome, such as injuries. I myself have been plagued with this for the past couple years in my lifting career, and even now. I can’t remember the last time I have done a training cycle or competed at a meet completely healthy. And I have tell you, it’s frustrating. This has stemmed from one bad decision after another in my quest to rise to the top. However, I’ve learned a great deal from my mistakes.

Noticing Red Flags

Many people fail to realize that they only have one body. And that body is a well-oiled machine when healthy. The only difference between a healthy body and machine is that you can’t just go to the store for new parts when something goes wrong. With this in mind, it is imperative that lifters put in the time and effort to take care of their healthy body. This can look different for many people. I’m going to list off some of the things that I find important.

Take the Time to Warm-Up Properly

First of all, lifters need to take the extra 10-15 minutes to warm-up properly before starting their workout. Technically the warm-up is a part of the workout and must be viewed as such. A warm up could be jogging, biking, performing dynamic stretches, mobility drills, or sport specific movements with lighter weights.

There are many benefits to performing a warm-up prior to exercise. A pretty obvious one is reducing the risk of injury. Warming-up properly before weight training increases the body’s temperature, which gives the muscles, joints, and ligaments the mobility to safely move through their full range of motion without causing injury. It also gives the lifter a chance to focus and mentally prepare for the workout to come, which can improve optimal performance.

Put Your Ego Aside

Secondly, put the pride aside. It’s not macho to lift through pain, especially if you don’t have to. If during your workout, you feel like you may have strained a body part: STOP! There is no badge of honor for continuing to unwisely train through it. But there are lifelong consequences such as chronic pain and irreparable damages to the body. No workout or competition is important enough for you to destroy your body in order to get through it when you have a serious injury.

Keep in mind, there will be many more to come as long as you take the right steps. When facing possible injury, take a deep breath and take a step back. Then you’ll be able to come back and enjoy the sport to the fullest, instead of struggling with pain and not getting to enjoy your workouts or competing like you’re supposed to.

Don’t Forget to Stretch

Stretch at the end of a workout. After a workout, your muscles are in a shortened state; therefore you must stretch them out in order to restore the normal length of the muscle fibers.

Failure to do so, will lead to excessive tightness over time and eventually pain, injury, and/or postural misalignment. Stretching also helps to improve blood flow back into the muscles, enhancing recovery.

Sleep and Fuel Yourself Properly

Last, but not the least, are sleep and nutrition. I can’t stress enough the importance of these two factors to the overall health of your body. Whatever you choose to eat fuels your body as you perform daily activities. A more nutritious diet gives you the nutrients and energy to perform and feel well.

[Do you like to lift late at night? Try these 5 steps to a more restful sleep!]

If you decide to fuel your body with unhealthy food (fuel), then expect to have crappy workouts and low energy levels. Foods that are nutrient dense help to repair the damages done during exercise. And remember, the human body recovers and grows while you sleep. Needless to say, get as much sleep as you can in order to see results in your strength, physique, and performance.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image screenshot from @charlesokpoko Instagram page.