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How to avoid pulled muscles from weight lifting

Posted by: PFB

Q. I have had a history of muscle pulls in the past (about 6 or 7 times), particularly my quads and sometimes my hamstrings. I have always properly warmed up before a workout or a practice but still manage to pull a muscle so I don't think that is my problem. I was thinking my problem was more of an imbalance between muscles. I was wondering what I could do in my workout to solve this problem and how I could tell if there is an imbalance. Also, if there was anything that I could do to speed up a recovery of a pulled muscle.

A. It definitely sounds like your training is woefully inadequate. Since I have no information about your training program, I will have to guess. Start performing lower body weight-training exercises explosively with light weights. Your muscular system obviously isn't able to function explosively therefore leading to a pulled muscle. Perform 8-12 sets of 2-3 rep full squats with 60 seconds rest between sets once each week. Use 50% of your raw 1RM and ease into the movement on the first few sets. In other words, listen to your body and don't perform the movement at full speed until you feel comfortable. Lower yourself under control and explosively stand up. Using a box is also a good idea because it will help build starting strength. Use a box that allows you to drop 2 inches below parallel. The knee joint should be greater than 90 degrees when seated so the hamstrings and glutes get the majority of the stress. Focus heavily on hamstring exercises such as the glute/ham raise and good mornings for 4-6 sets of 4-6 reps each week.

The issue of muscle imbalance is a complicated one (beyond the scope of this column). But I will tell you this, the old theory that the hamstrings should be 2/3 as strong as the quadriceps is a bunch of crap. They need to be as strong as the quads for maximum sprinting and jumping performance. Buy the excellent book "Stretching Scientifically" by Thomas Kurz or Pavel Tsatsouline's book "Relax into Stretch" for flexibility guidelines.

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