The harsh reality to any fitness program is an injury can happen. Injuries are more likely to happen during the infant stages of a new program or when you begin to plateau and decide to push yourself extra hard without proper rest. Chest muscles are a very common area where injuries are likely to happen. Shoulder injuries are very common to those pushing chest routines improperly. However, there are a couple of easy ways to avoid them.
For starters, I am going to tackle form over intensity or quality of quantity; however you want to view it. Bottom line is that if your form is poor, injuries are just waiting to happen. To ensure proper form, ask your gym’s expert on how to properly perform the exercise. If there is no trainer there, ask the person who has been working out for a long time (10 years or more). These people probably have had to go back and master form at one point in their lives because of an injury.
Once you get the trainer, forget the weight. Practice with an empty bar or very light set of dumbbells until you have mastered the motion. I have the exact same routine every time I grab a set of dumbbells regardless if they are 10 pounds or 90 pounds. The same is true for each method of benching with a bar. I put my hands in the exact same position for each grip because of shoulder strains in the past. Practice for a few weeks with light weights until you are able to control the weight properly. Then start adding the weight slowly.
The other way we get into trouble is by pushing ourselves too hard. Essentially, we deny ourselves the rest time we need. Our bodies are machines and we forget we are not able to run them at full capacity for too long. This is likely to happen when we start to plateau. We get to the point where we are not increasing as quickly as we would like and decide to “modify” our routine or add in extra workouts each week.
When we modify, we almost always sacrifice form and quality for intensity and quantity. Couple this with increased demand on the body and injuries are almost guaranteed. Instead, make sure you have a rest week. Depending on how intense my routine is I take the third or fourth week as the rest week. When I am going very heavy, I take the third week and do more cardio exercises that incorporate the chest.
There are thousands of workouts online and in magazines and most of them are very good. However, just make sure you are focusing on mastering the proper form and taking advantage of proper rest periods. This is true for all areas, but people stray from this most often with their chest routines.