In my opinion, there are few things more frustrating than finally committing to a healthy eating and exercise program, starting to do it, feeling great and seeing results, and then having some kind of pull or strain stop you in your tracks.

It fucking sucks.

I know because it’s happened to me quite a few times over the last 20 years, but there is one incident that I will never forget.

From Scrawny to Brawny

I grew up as the prototypical 98 pound weakling. My nickname was “stickman” for good reason; I had the body of a 10 year old boy well into my late teens and even early twenties.

But right around the time I turned 23, I discovered this awesome thing called a gym. Actually I think it was a World Gym. Anyway, after being taught how to lift weights by a few buff friends of mine, I was hooked.

I trained my ass off 5 days a week and before long, started seeing weird things all over my body; muscles!

From that time, I was like a freak on a mission. I trained hard and heavy and in a few short years, had added well over 25 pounds of solid muscle to my twig like frame.

Think Edward Norton in American History X as my “after” and him pretty much any other time as my “before”.

avoid injury over 40And like many young, naive dudes, I skipped those annoying things like stretching and warming up. It was all about getting on the bench and building those pecs and guns.

From Brawny To Scrawny

And then it happened. I remember it like it was yesterday although it was more than 18 years ago. I was doing my final set of close grip bench presses with 95 pounds (don’t judge), and I felt something twang in my left shoulder.

I knew immediately that something was really wrong. I remember waking up the next morning and not being able to move my arm much and after a quick trip to the doctor, I was told my rotator cuff was torn.

After sobbing for a few days (kidding) (not really), I realized that my training was pretty much over for a while. All that hard work, all that commitment and sacrifice..gone.

It was heart breaking really and I spent over a year in physical therapy trying to get my range and strength back. And although I still trained legs hard, it wasn’t the same. My spirit had been broken and my focus gone.

And I told myself I would take much better care of my body after that. And I did.

How You Can Avoid Injuring Yourself

I always tell my clients that my #1 priority is keeping them injury free. Setting a goal to lose 30 pounds is great but if you’re hurt, it doesn’t matter.

Staying injury free is hard enough, but when we get to reach our late thirties and beyond (I’m 43), it becomes increasingly more difficult. We have to spend more time stretching, warming up, resting, and cooling down than we did when we were younger.

And because none of those things are particularly fun, we tend to skip them. But it’s a big mistake and you’ll remember I said that when you find yourself with a pulled hamstring or a jacked up lower back because you were careless.

So today I wanted to share 11 things that I know will help you avoid injury in the gym or while exercising.

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