By Tiffany Teng
For the gym-nuts out there, it may be helpful to take all the Instagram pictures of buff muscles, 6-packs, and bench lifts with a grain of salt; there is a point when physical motivation crosses into the area of over-exertion and muscle fatigue. Even though exercise in theory should get you that “perfect bod” if practiced rigorously and regularly every week, training extensively can actually make your body weaker if overdone. That’s why studies show that up to 20% of professional athletes show symptoms of an overtrained body.
So what is a good workout plan? Well, typically a teenager is more susceptible to injuries relating to stress fractures and growth plate deformities related to over-usage because of the growth patterns a body undergoes, with the bones growing first that pull on the tendons and muscles. Therefore, you should always make sure to stretch before running or lifting weights. However, make sure not to do “stand-still stretches” in which you stay in one position for a significant amount of time, as that may also eventually lead to muscle-pulling. For a workout aimed at bulking up, working out 4 to 5 times a week would be the most effective and safe. For all-body weight loss, one should aim for 3 to 4 times a week instead with at least 40 minute workouts, as these workouts both take longer to recover from and take slower effect.
Adults have a higher tendency to be affected by strained shoulders and backs, pulled hamstrings, and runner’s knee. It is imperative to focus on building muscle and endurance slowly, for doing one too many exercises may be crossing the line into serious surgery-worth injuries. In fact, many injuries are actually caused by a lack of coordination and balance, particularly for adults who are obese, as excess body fat can cause the deterioration of muscle strength. Before doing any weight-lifting or training with heavy gym equipment, you should research and practice the proper techniques for using them, for the wrong methods can lead to muscle taxation. It’s also good to switch up your fitness routine every once in a while to work other muscle groups out and get overall toned.
So the next time you HIIT the gym (haha get it?), make sure that your body is just as ready for it as you are mentally. Pay attention to your body when exercising; even though soreness should be expected after an intense workout, extensive pain is a signal that you’re doing it wrong. Fitness should be fun, not agonizing.