Weight training done in the correct way can improve your strength, increase your muscle tone, help you lose fat and even gain you muscle mass. But doing it incorrectly, weight training will not give you the desired benefits and risk serious injury.
The Importance of Correct Form
If I put a dollar on everytime I’ve seen people in the gym using incorrect form when using weights, I would be a rich man by now! Whether you see people lifting too heavy, jerking as they attempt shoulder curls or dumbbell flyers or not positioned properly when lifting a barbell, it leads to a serious risk of injury and a massive waste of energy. No wonder many ask why they’ve made no serious gains in their routine!
The Right Way – Some Tips
The mentality to use is exactly the same if you were attempting to run a marathon for the first time. Compare the two. You will not be trying to run 20 plus miles on your first training session. What you are aiming for is progession and improvement – day by day, week by week, month by month by increasing distance and pace. With weights, it’s the same principal. Start light and in order to improve your muscle mass and tone, you increase the weight over a set period of time.
You see those wrestling or UFC adverts where they say, “These guys are professionals, please don’t try this at home!” – well, many try to aspire to their favourite bodybuilders and see magazine covers with their heroes doing a bicep curl with a heavy dumbbell. Remember, these guys are professional and have been training in the sport they love for many years. It’s fantastic to have people you aspire to, but you can never achieve their build in a shorter space of time than they did. Be patient, take your time and pump it up bit, by bit. Rome was never built in a day!
If you are a beginner to weight training, over 40 and have been inactive in exercise, please do consult your local doctor.Have a full check up and make sure you explain to your doctor exactly what you plan to be doing in the gym.
You need to also understand, as a beginner, what different types of weight training achieve. For example, weight training for muscle toning and overall fitness is different from say weight training for a particular sport or activity. Each requires a unique type of exercise tailored to your overall goal and aspirations.
A golden rule when attempting weight training is to breathe consistently on each rep – your blood pressure can increase to dangerous levels if you hold your breath during the weight training. Breathing freely during your weight training can prevent this.
You need to be balanced with your firm feet and legs when lifting weights to work any of your major muscles — abdominals, legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms.
Make sure you lift the appropriate amount of weight. For me, my muscles feel tired after 10 to 15 reps. I guarantee that a weight level that causes fatigue at 12 repetitions is an effective stimulus for muscle growth and toning.
If you are able to do between 10 to 15 reps, I would recommend you do no more than 4 to 6 sets of that specific exercise. Remember, you know your own body. If it’s telling you, you cannot lift anymore, then don’t. Attempting any more will risk severe injury and hamper your attempts to complete your full training session.
This next bit is the most common thing I see in the gym – the form! Don’t rush each rep. Don’t jerk the weight up at any stage. Lift (positive) and lower (negative) the weight in a slow, controlled fashion. This will isolate the muscles you want to work more effectively, and doesn’t let you cheat by relying on momentum to lift the weight.
You may feel pumped after your workout, but make sure you rest. Yes – muscles actually grow outside of gym hours and while you are asleep – together with the correct nutrition to feed your muscles, you will see the benefits and see the improvements you have been looking for in your physique! You only need to work one muscle group, once a week.
Make sure you stretch out before and after each workout. You need to remember, like marathon runners who stretch their leg muscles before a race, you need to do the same when in the gym for a weight training session.
Finally, never try to feel intimidated or pressured into the need to lift more than you should when confronted by other members in the gym. Everybody is different and your key focus is to make sure, whatever you are doing, is correct, according to your ability. Do it because you have your own goals and aspirations. You should be motivated by the gains you make and be proud of the improvements you’ve made overtime!
Keep up the good work!
Managing Director, PumpingFit.com