The Smartest Way to Shape Up
We're such fans of strength training that we sometimes sound like hucksters on one of those crazy late-night TV infomercials: "You get a sleeker physique. But wait! There's more! You also burn more calories! Get stronger bones! A healthier heart! More flexibility!"

It's all true! But the benefits are so tempting that it's easy to jump in and get hurt. Which is happening: Weight-training injuries are up 50 percent, and the biggest increases are in people over 45.

Yet they're easy to avoid. You're probably not going to drop a 150-pound barbell on your toes—you'd have to pick it up first. You're more likely to push yourself too hard or do too many repetitions or cut corners on form to lift more pounds. Instead of stopping if something ouches, you mutter, "No whining." Or you drag your sore self back to the gym every day, even if your body's yelping.

Don't. For starters, don't do strength training every day. Every other day is plenty. Begin with light weights, and get how-tos on using good form. That's really what those mirrors are for: to check your form. It's the key to avoiding strains. Don't increase weight until you can easily lift the weight you're using 12 times. If a joint or muscle hurts, stop. Take a couple of days off, then try the move again with a lighter weight or fewer reps.

If you're patient at first, the next thing you know, you'll look in the mirror and say, "Wow, perfect form." Oh, you can say, "Wow!" about how you look too.

How do you stay healthy in the summer? Share your tips in the comments area.

Keep Reading:
O magazine's head-to-toe guide to a summer-ready body
10 sensational summer fitness ideas
Tanning addiction—why it's more common than you think
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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