The Dos and Don'ts of Weight Training
A surprising number of people make weight lifting mistakes that compromise the effectiveness of their exercise. Follow these dos and don'ts to maximize your weight training program.
Effective weight training depends on proper technique. If you're going to make the effort to strength train, you might as well do it correctly. A surprising number of people make weight lifting mistakes that compromise the effectiveness of their exercise. Follow these dos and don'ts to make the most of your weight training program.
Use proper form
Learn to do each exercise correctly. When lifting weights, you must move through your joints’ full range of motion. The better your form, the better your results. This also means it’s less likely for you to hurt yourself. Keep in mind that proper form matters even when you pick up and replace your weights on the racks.
Proper form is always more important than lifting a ton of weight. Don’t arch your back, and don’t strain your neck either. Not only can these maneuvers cause harm, but they also make the exercises less effective.
If you're not sure whether you're doing a particular exercise correctly, ask a fitness specialist for help.
Lift an appropriate amount of weight
Start with a weight you can lift comfortably a dozen or so times. For most people, a single set of 15 repetitions with a weight that fatigues the muscles can build strength efficiently. It can even be as effective as three sets of the same exercise. As you get stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight.
Check-in with your breath
You might be tempted to hold your breath while lifting weights. Don't do it! Breathe out as you lift the weight, instead, and breathe in as you lower the weight. The correct way is to exhale through your mouth as you lift a weight, and inhale deeply through your nose as you lower it. In other words, exhale during the hardest part. When you breathe properly, you help oxygen get to your muscles. This helps them power through the movement.
Rest and recover
Avoid exercising the same muscles for two consecutive days. You may plan daily sessions for specific muscle groups, or work all of your major muscle groups in a single session two or three times a week.
Skip the warm-up
It’s a known fact that cold muscles are more prone to injury than warm muscles are. Warm up your muscles before you lift weights with 5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking or some other aerobic activity. You don't have to run a marathon to get your muscles ready for action. A couple of dynamic stretches will get the blood flowing enough to improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
Move the weight in an unhurried, controlled fashion. Taking it slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work. It keeps you from relying on momentum to lift the weight too. Rest for about a minute between each exercise.
You use velocity as a crutch when you speed through reps. This makes the exercise easier and essentially robs your muscles of the time they need to properly expand and contract.
For most people, completing one set of exercises to the point of exhaustion is usually enough. Extra sets may take up extra time and contribute to overload injury. However, the number of sets that you perform may differ depending on your goals.
If an exercise causes pain, stop. Make sure you’re not injured and try the exercise again in a few days, or when you’ve recovered, with less weight.