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Avoiding Overtraining Injuries In The Weight Room

As you already know too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. Weight training is no exception. If you’re training hard chances are you’ve experienced an over-training injury at some point in time.

The purpose of this article is to shed some insight on how you can avoid over-training injuries. For starters the old adage “no pain, no gain” is out! Chronic pain or soreness is an indicator that something is wrong. Your body is trying to tell you something. Listen to it and make some changes or may end up sidelined with an injury.

Here’s a typical example. An individual will continue to perform heavy bench presses even when they experience persistent elbow or shoulder pain. This is a recipe for tendonitis or injuries to the shoulder complex.

The majority of overtraining injuries are developed when the individual fails to recognize warning signs and continues to “tough it out” through their workouts.

If you experience regular muscle or joint soreness and pain put the brakes on for a while and look for the problem.

Here are a few tips you can follow to help avoid overtraining injuries in the weight room.

  • When training heavy give yourself a full day of rest to recover every third or fourth day and alternate with a week of moderate/light weights.
  • Always perform a dynamic warm-up prior to starting your workout.
  • Use reciprocal inhibition (releasing tight muscles by activating/stretching opposing muscle groups) at the end of your workouts.
  • Incorporate functional training exercises into your routines to help develop proprioception and improve the stability of your joints

A common mistake I see all the time is failing to complete a dynamic warm-up. An example would be starting with a bench press before ever activating the stabilizer muscles of the shoulder complex.

You’ll perform much better in your workout and reduce your risk of injury if you complete a dynamic warm-up before hitting the weights. An example would be completing a few sets of push-ups before your bench press.

This is in contrast to static stretching which I never recommend prior to a workout because it’s relatively ineffective and it actually reduces your power output.

Employing exercises and stretches that induce “reciprocal inhibition” are great ways to release tight muscles following a workout. Let’s go back to our example of the chest workout.

When you finish working out, your anterior delts and pecs will undoubtedly being pulling your shoulders forward. Over time you might develop a protracted shoulder girdle condition and wind up with a rotator cuff injury.

A few sets of seated rows or pull-ups with a pause at the end of each rep will help release those tight anterior muscles. Keeping your joints in proper alignment is half the battle in minimizing the risk of an overuse injury.

Functional exercise is also extremely effective at preventing overuse injuries. Doing bodyweight, medicine ball, BOSU, and stability ball push-ups will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your shoulders.

Don’t worry about losing your strength. I’ve personally found that you can actually get stronger by improving joint stability through functional exercise.

Consult with a physical therapist or a fitness professional educated in kinesiology if chronic pain or problems persist. Many overtraining injuries can result from muscle imbalances that were failed to be identified prior to starting an exercise regiment.



A professional can recommend several options to help remedy your problem. Go ahead and train hard but remember to train smart and you’ll reduce your risk of overtraining injuries in the weightroom.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fitness expert, speaker, author, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. Learn more how you can receive a no obligations FREE trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fitness Training.