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By now you’re probably more than well aware that bodyweight training is an excellent way to prevent injuries in sport and long term overuse injuries that are inevitable in traditional strength training (using weights).
As it turns out using your own bodyweight for resistance is extremely less taxing on your joints which leads to fewer injuries.
However, as with any form of training injuries CAN still occur and you need to learn how to prevent injuries in sports especially calisthenics.
Have no fear though!
Following I have created a checklist of sorts to make sure that everyone, from beginners to bodyweight pros, can avoid injury and continue to crush their bodyweight workouts.
If you feel like there’s something we’re missing be sure to let me know. I want to know what you do to continue feeling fresh. Post your best tips in the comment section!
1) Warm-Up For At Least 10 Minutes
The most common mistake that I see in regards to bodyweight training (or really all training in general) is the lack of a proper warm-up.
If you were about to run in a track meet you wouldn’t just line up without having warmed up, so why would you enter the gym and start your workout with out warming up?
Some incorrectly believe that because they are training bodyweight style that they don’t need to warm-up, which is WRONG! If anything bodyweight training requires more of a warm-up!
The great thing is that there really is no wrong way to warm-up. But 10 minutes of some sort of continuous movement will ensure blood is flowing to your joints, lubricating them and helping you avoid injury.
2) Invest In A Lacrosse Ball
You’re probably scratching your head and thinking how a lacrosse ball is going to help you with bodyweight training.
We all know that becoming really good at bodyweight movements takes a lot of time, and certainly A LOT of practice. One drawback of all of this practice is that your joints can take a pounding (wrists, and elbows particularly).
This is where the lacrosse ball comes in to play.
In your spare time, rolling or massaging your joint areas with the lax ball will help enormously in avoiding unwanted joint pain.
It really is that easy, and again there’s no wrong way to go about it. Similar to the picture shown, just find a sore muscle or joint and work the lax ball around the sore area for a minute or two.
By making this a regular part of your free time (you could do this at home or even at your work desk), you will avoid the typical muscle and joint soreness that is experienced after working out.
3) Make Sure to Use Your Progressions
The other day while training I saw a guy come in, warm-up and go straight into doing handstand push-ups as his first movement.
My wrists cringed for him.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing handstand push-ups first in your work out, but going straight into them would be similar to someone walking in and putting 225 lbs. on a bench press straight off.
Instead, the smart play would be to work up to those handstand push-ups by doing some normal push-ups, then progressing to some handstand holds, and then the handstand push-ups. Nothing too extensive, just to get your body (i.e. your wrists) used to the movement.
Every bodyweight movement has modified “easier” versions of the full exercise, don’t be afraid to use them!
4) Switch It Up
Switching the exercises you use to target individual muscle areas has two key benefits:
-Your muscles eventually adapt to your training stimuli so doing the same exercises over and over again rapidly causes them to lose their effectiveness
-Doing the same exercises in the same fashion over and over again can be troublesome on your joints
The most efficient way to effectively “switch” up your training is to create two weekly templates “A” & “B”.
So one week you do week “A” workouts, and then the following week you do “B” workouts and rotate weekly thereafter.
Doing this will make sure your joints are being overused, and your muscles won’t get used to any one particular movement.
5) Change Your Mindset
When I first got into doing bodyweight workouts I was transitioning, like some of you may be, from doing traditional strength training using weights (barbells and dumbbells).
I was used to entering the gym cranking my Metallica or Public Enemy, fired up to crush some new PRs.
Unfortunately I learned the hard way that this approach DOES NOT work with bodyweight training.
To get getter at these movements you HAVE to think of it as going to practice vs. going to train.
The mindset can’t be, “I’m going to work out.”
It should be, “I’m going to hone my skills.”
Making this key shift (thinks like Yoga or meditation as seen in the picture can help) in mindset will automatically help you avoid progressing to failure and injuring yourself in the process. Because at the end of the day bodyweight movements require incredible skill.
No one came out of the womb playing Chopin on the piano. It takes years of daily practice. Bodyweight training is the same way, it takes daily commitment to practice to get better, but the results are most definitely worth it!
Hopefully by now you have a clear(er) picture of what you need to do to avoid injury while bodyweight training.
Remember, I want to hear from you!
What kinds of steps do you take to properly warm up for your bodyweight training sessions?
How have you effectively changed your mindset to avoid training to failure?
How have you used a lacrosse ball to avoid muscle/joint soreness?
I look forward to reading all of your responses in the comments section!