Staying Safe in the Weight Room
Weight training has many benefits– in addition to helping you increase strength and muscle tone, it can also help you to decrease fat and improve bone density. With the benefits of weight training becoming more widely known, people are beginning to realize that lifting weights isn’t just for bodybuilders, and are starting to incorporate weight training into their fitness routine. However, it is important to be aware of proper weight training techniques in order to benefit; using incorrect technique will not only cheat you of the benefits of weight training, but will also put you at risk for injury.
If you are new to weight training, you should work with a trainer who can teach you proper form and technique, and help you develop a personalized weight lifting regimen. Even if you’ve been lifting weights for some time, you can still benefit from time with a trainer, who can help you to identify any problems with your technique and help you to make any needed changes to your weight lifting routine.
Once you are ready to begin, there are a few things to remember when working with weights:
- Make sure you do a proper warm-up. Five to ten minutes of a low intensity exercise, preferably one that involves all the muscle groups, will help to increase heart rate and blood flow, signaling to your body that you are about to work out.
- If you are new to weight lifting and unsure of your technique, consider using machines before you start using free weights. Machines help to ensure that you are in the right position for good form.
- Start out slowly, with a weight that you can lift for a set of 12-15 reps. Once you can comfortably do 15 reps, increase the weight by 5-10%. Lifting too much, too fast can result in injury.
- Pay attention to your form. Using proper form will give you better results and will help you avoid injury. If you are unable to maintain proper form during an exercise, you may be lifting too much weight or doing too many reps.
- Don’t hold your breath. Holding your breath while lifting weights can result in a dangerous increase in blood pressure. You want to exhale as you lift weight, and inhale as you lower weight.
- Lift and lower weight in a slow, controlled movement. Jerking weight up or using momentum to lift weight won’t give you the results you are looking for, and can lead to injury.
- Make sure your routine is balanced. Exercise opposing muscle groups, such as the biceps and the triceps, equally to ensure symmetry and balance.
- Listen to your body. Generally, that burn of fatigue you feel after a workout is normal, but if you feel a sudden, sharp pain at any time during your workout or pain generally, stop immediately – don’t try to work through it. Try doing the exercise again with less weight after you have recovered.
- Give your body enough recovery time. Break up your workouts so you avoid working out the same muscle groups two days in a row.
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