Using improper form can lead to injury and a lack of results.
Weight training is a wonderful way to build muscle, protect bones, burn calories, and stay in shape. Does the weight room at the gym intimidate you? Maybe you don’t know where to start or how to perform the exercises. You may be tempted to just copy the exercises your neighbors are doing, but they may be doing things the wrong way. This is where your personal trainer comes in handy. With your personal trainer, you have immediate access to a world of knowledge and expertise to help you develop a weight-training routine that’s safe and effective.
Some degree of caution when beginning weight training is good. This is because lifting weights requires proper technique in order to protect yourself from injury and to get the most out of your workout. Learning proper form as a beginner is key to avoiding bad habits that are hard to break later on.
Trainers may differ on their views of lifting technique, but most can agree on the following tips for proper form.
Watch Your Back
When it comes to lifting weights, one of your main priorities should be protecting your back. Because they’re involved in almost every exercise, your back and spine are at risk for injury if good form is ignored. As you perform each exercise, maintain back alignment to reduce stress on your spine and build lower back strength.
For the majority of exercises, proper back alignment means keeping your back flat or slightly arched. Do this by slightly pushing out your chest and bringing your shoulder blades together. You may also need to tilt your pelvis slightly forward to help keep your lower back straight.
Go Easy on Your Joints
Because of the bending, rotating, and extending that are involved with weight training, special care must be taken to protect your joints. This includes your knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, and ankles.
As you move through the range of motion required, use slow, controlled movements. Let your muscles move the weight, rather than letting the weight pull you all over the place. And avoid locking your knees and elbows, but keep them slightly bent the entire time.
Increase Weight Gradually
It’s difficult to maintain proper form when you’re lifting weights too heavy for your fitness level. So don’t plan to wow anyone with your lifting ability the first few months of training. Rather, start out with an amount of weight you can lift without any strain for a set of 12 to 15 reps. Gradually increase the weight each week as your strength increases. Download a weight lifting app that comes with high ratings as a guide for increasing your load.
To protect your body as you lift, meet your trainer or a friend at the gym who can spot you during heavy lifting and remind you of proper form. Dropping a barbell or dumbbell on your chest or feet can cause serious injury, and having a second person on hand can go a long way toward preventing such an accident.
Breathe Through Each Exercise
You might not think it, but breathing plays an important role in weight lifting. Proper breathing helps keep your core stable and your spine aligned. Never hold your breath while lifting, but remember to breath continuously through each repetition. A general recommendation is to forcefully exhale through your mouth as you lift a weight or exert yourself and inhale deeply through your nose as you lower a weight or relax a muscle.