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5 Home Workout Safety Tips for Men

Doing simple things like stretching can ensure you stay safe during home workouts. See more men's health pictures.
© iStockphoto.com/patrickheagney

If you're a guy, you probably know that men tend to view working out as a sport, and generally are pretty competitive when it comes to fitness. But they're also less likely than women to work with trainers, enroll in beginner fitness classes or even seek advice about training [source: Sorgen]. This drive to push your workout limits without proper preparation or taking the necessary precautions could result in safety risks that lead to injuries -- particularly when you're working out at home without supervision from fitness instructors. And that can be a major setback in your overall fitness plan.

Working out at home is a convenient way to stay in shape without the hassle of making it to the gym every day. But especially if you have the tendency to overdo it while exercising, it's important to take a few extra steps to make sure you don't end up hurt. Read on to learn five tips that can make your home workout a little safer.

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In general, men are less flexible than women. They are also less likely to stretch before working out [source: Sorgen]. When exercising at home, make sure to warm up and stretch just like you would at the gym. By warming up for just 10 minutes, you can prevent muscle strain and injury [source: Skarnulis].

Slow and steady wins the race when you're warming up at home. Stretching "cold" can cause injury, so start off by walking, jogging or running in place to warm up first [source: Skarnulis]. Next, do gentle, static stretches -- no bouncing -- so that you don't strain your muscles. When your workout is over, be sure to cool down just like you would in a fitness class. Just 10 minutes of working out at a slower pace, perhaps by walking or jogging, can allow your body to cool down, flush the lactic acid out of your system and prevent muscle soreness.

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At home, make sure to wear the same gear that you would wear to the gym. For example, if you're running on a treadmill, wear shoes designed specifically for running. Wear clothing that is comfortable and that will keep you dry as you sweat.

In addition to wearing the right gear, you also should make sure that your home has safe machines, weights and other workout equipment. Check weights so that they're adjusted to your body type. For example, if you're using a leg-extension weight machine that isn't set properly, you can put too much stress on your knees and cause knee injury. Machines that aren't set correctly will prevent your muscles from moving in a full range of motion, keeping you from getting the most out of your workout [source: Skarnulis]. Always make sure that your equipment is working properly before you begin your workout. And if you're not that knowledgeable about fitness equipment, consult a fitness professional about the proper settings for your machines and physique and apply these suggestions to your home exercise setup.

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Doing just one type of exercise every day can put excess strain on a particular muscle group, which increases the possibility of injury. That's where cross training comes in. When you cross train, you're basically mixing it up with different kinds of exercises so that you don't overexert certain muscles. So in other words, don't just focus on building muscles; work a cardio routine into your workout as well, or vice versa.

For example, instead of pumping iron for hours on end, you could run on a treadmill for 30 minutes, and then lift some weights to build muscle strength. You could then cycle for another 30 minutes. Cross training can help ensure that you're working out your entire body and not putting too much stress on any one group of muscles.

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If you've ever had a tough coach or trainer, chances are you've hear the mantra "no pain, no gain." Although working out can certainly be intense and maybe even uncomfortable, pain is not necessary for a successful workout. In fact, pain when working out could be a warning sign of muscle exhaustion or even a torn ligament [source: MSNBC]. Although you might feel compelled to push through the pain while exercising, you should always listen to your body.

Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't challenge yourself to get the most out of your workout; just make sure to listen to what your body is saying as you do so. Take a rest if you feel lightheaded, and don't keep going if you feel weak. If you think you've strained a muscle, cool down and take a rest.

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Don't overdo it when you're working your muscles.
Don't overdo it when you're working your muscles.
© iStockphoto.com/chrisboy2004

When you're working out at home, you're likely to be without a spotter. So it's important to know your limits, especially if you're lifting weights. Never overdo it while working your muscles. Gradually increase weights, and don't exceed what's appropriate for your own strength. Consult with a fitness professional to help determine the amount of weight you can safely lift, and apply this to your home workout routine. Don't rush reps while weight lifting -- this can raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels. It can also increase the likelihood of foot injury [source: Skarnulis]. When lifting, you should breathe out for two counts and hold the weight at the top of the contraction. Then, return the weight as you breathe in for four counts. It's important to exhale as you're doing the most difficult part of the lift [source: Skarnulis].

You should also know your limits with cardio exercise. Don't run faster or longer than you can safely. As always, the best way to determine what cardio routine is best for you is to consult with a professional. Build your exercise routine gradually so that you don't overexert yourself.

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For even more information on effective exercise, check out the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • Home Workout Safety - How To Exercise At Home Without Over Doing It. Ultimate Fitness Gear. (Feb. 25, 2011)http://www.ultimatefitnessgear.com/home-workout-safety.html
  • "No pain, no gain...and other workout myths." MSNBC. Oct. 4, 2007. (Mar. 2, 2011).
  • Skarnulis, Leanna. "The Top 20 Fitness Mistakes for Beginners." Web MD. (Feb. 17, 2011).http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/top-20-fitness-mistakes-beginners-make
  • Sorgen, Carol. His and Hers Fitness. Web MD. (Feb. 17, 2011).http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/his-hers-fitness
  • Stankowski, Joe. "Eyes on the Prize." Men's Fitness. (Feb. 17, 2011).http://www.mensfitness.com/fitness/beginner-weight-training/eyes-prize
  • "Will you get hurt this year?" Men's Health. March 11, 2004. (Feb. 17, 2011).http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/injury-prevention-exercises

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