Building Muscle Safely
Building muscle safely will allow you to reach your maximum potential. All too often, we train hard and heavy without any consideration for the body. Young trainees especially, I'd say those between the ages of 16 and 23 years, tend to overwork their frame resulting in frequent injuries. Ironically, it's these injuries that provide us with the greatest lessons on staying strong and healthy throughout our muscle building journey.
At more mature stages of our muscular development, most of us will find a sort of comfort zone, a weight range that suits us in terms of progressing towards our goals while remaining in a healthy condition. This is a good place to be in, metaphorically speaking of course. There's nothing wrong with altering the intensity every so often... but poundage should be carefully accounted for at all times. We constantly need to stay in tune with how weights being used are affecting our body.
Egos can play a very negative role in a person's fitness quest. For men, heavy weights are a symbol of character, courage, and strength. How much of it can be pushed or pulled, therefore, almost defines who you are relative to the rest of the pack. In my case, around the time I first started training, I actually labeled the regulars "the crew" (which I felt proud to be a part of); There was a sense of camaraderie powered by the fact that we all had three things in common - We were in the gym six nights per week, building muscle was our main objective, and we lifted heavy.
But the ego is detrimental, because it controls you. Instead of doing what gets you results, you're following what you think is the norm... simply to be accepted. This happens at a subconscious level, but once you're aware of it, you can begin to change your patterns. Some people, myself included, grow quicker when using lighter weights. I've actually broken through all of my plateaus thus far when training in this more laid back manner. Why I reach plateaus in the first place is that it's somewhat human nature to return and resort to an old, less effective way of doing things; These are called bad habits and we all have them. Keep in mind, though, that habits can be eliminated.
Once you've learned from your mistakes, and we all do at some point, look at your training from a new perspective. One that isn't concerned about what others think, nor feels the need to follow strict guidelines in order to move forward. Look at yourself, listen to your body, and trust your instincts. Nine times out of ten, your gut will tell you to ease up considerably when it comes to weight used. It'll probably also tell you to slow down in terms of intensity. It's going to say something like "Take your time, enjoy your workout, and focus on your muscles rather than the outside world". Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but the truth is, only you know what works best for you.
What goes on outside of the gym is just as important, and need not be swept aside. Injuries occur in the process of building muscle while weight training when one of three things happens; Either you were exhausted (due to work, school, etc) before even entering your local fitness center (or home gym), had too much on your mind (quite possibly from an earlier conflict with a family member, friend, spouse, or co-worker), or tried to go beyond your capabilities for that day (based on previous and current peer pressure from the other gym-goers, i.e. your camarades).
Really, the weights have little to do with building muscle safely. It's all of that other bull that contributes to getting hurt. Life in general can be tough, near impossible for some, you likely already know that by now. But that doesn't mean you have to be a slave to it. Don't let anything bend you. You're always in control, and can demonstrate this at any given moment. The first step is to clearly define whatever it is that you want, and the next is to seek out the following steps. I'm mentioning this because once you know the basics of muscle hypertrophy, the rest is up to you... not the owner of the gym, not the personal trainer who's completely booked with clients, not the national-level bodybuilding competitor who spots you from time to time, not no one aside from YOU!