You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap the benefits of strength training. With proper form, strength training can help you lose body fat, increase your strength and muscle tone, and improve your bone density. When done incorrectly, weight training will result in minimal or no benefits — and may even end with an injury.
Check your technique
You might try strength exercises by watching friends in the gym — but sometimes what you see is not safe and you may not understand what muscle group they are working. Incorrect strength training may lead to injuries.
If you are just getting started, work with a knowledgeable fitness trainer who is familiar with proper weight training form and techniques. If you have been exercising for a while, consider scheduling a trainer to check your form and identify any changes you may need to make.
Weight training do’s
- Lift an appropriate amount of weight. Start with a weight you can lift comfortably 12 to 16 times. For most people, a single set of 12 to 16 repetitions with the proper weight can build strength just as efficiently as three sets of the same exercise. As you get stronger, increase the amount of weight.
- Use proper form. Learn to do each exercise correctly. The better your form, the better your results. If you’re unable to maintain good form, decrease the weight or the number of repetitions. If you’re not sure whether you’re doing an exercise correctly, ask a personal trainer.
- Breathe. Do not hold your breath while you’re lifting weights. Holding your breath can lead to dangerous increases in blood pressure.
Seek balance. Work all of your major muscles. Strengthen opposing muscles groups. Do not spot train.
Rest. Avoid exercising the same muscles two days in a row.
- Warm-up. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than are warm muscles. Warm up with five to 10 minutes of walking or other aerobic activity.
Keep it slow. Move weights slowly. Taking it slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work and keeps you from relying on momentum.
Don’t overdo it. Completing one set of exercises to the point of fatigue is usually enough.
- Don’t ignore pain. If an exercise causes pain, stop.
- Wear shoes. Shoes with good traction can keep you from slipping while you’re lifting weights.
Remember, the more you concentrate on proper weight training technique, the more you’ll get from your weight training program.
For more information about proper form: call Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530 or visit her website (www.janetsfitnessindustries.net).
By: Janet Hunt