How to Properly Lift Weights
If not done properly, lifting weights can result in an injury that can sideline you for a long time. Worse yet, once healed, you’ll have to start over again getting the rehabbed muscle back in shape. To avoid an injury and get the most out of your workout, you should:
1) Schedule Eating Before Exercising
Time your eating patterns so that you won’t have eaten a large meal within 50 minutes prior to your workout. Ideally, you should eat 1 to 2 hours prior to and if you feel you need something to eat just prior to starting your workout, choose a piece of fresh fruit or a protein supplement. By eating a large meal right before working out, you risk getting cramps which can really put a damper on your training session.
2) Warm Up
This is something that many new to working out skip because they think it doesn’t matter; they couldn’t be more wrong. By starting your workout with cold muscles, you run the risk of at least having sorer muscles all the way up to a suffering a serious injury.
Warming up increases the oxygen in your bloodstream and ultimately to your muscles. At a minimum, a good warm-up routine would be to perform 5 push-ups and sit-ups, rest for 30 seconds and then do 10 of both exercises. Keep doing this exercise/rest routine all the way up to 20 exercises of each and then start working your way back down to 5 exercises in increments of 5.
The Best Way to Warm Up Before Lifting Weights
Seasoned weightlifters know the value of properly warming up (and cooling down). Not only does warming up before lifting allow more blood to flow to your joints, but it increases the elasticity of your muscles and increases both your body temperature and nervous system activity; it actually allows you to maximize your workout better than if you had not warmed up.
A proper warm up consists of a cardio routine to get your heart rate increased, and a routine to warm-up and stretch the muscles you will work out during your weight-lifting session.
A good cardio warm up starts with a fast walk or slow jog for around two minutes where the goal is to increase your target heart rate to 60% of your maximum heart rate; you can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
Next, move into a normal speed jog for around another two minutes to raise your target heart rate to 75%. Finally wrap up the cardio warm up by running for another two minutes or until your target heart rate is at 80%. Now start to gradually slow the speed down until you are at a stop.
You can also warm-up on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer each with variable resistance using the same target heart rates and approximate times.
If your routine that day is upper body, warm up your muscles by doing some dynamic flexibility exercises. Dynamic flexibility exercises moves your muscles within the full range of motion, thus “loosening up” everything better than static stretching, along with reducing the risk of injury. Recent studies have found that static stretching does not prevent injuries and does not properly prepare the muscles for an upcoming workout.
Push-ups are a good exercise for many upper body muscles. If your routine targets the lower body, then choose knee raises, squats or lunges, or a combination of the three.
Finish out your muscle warm up by doing a few light-weight lifts (about half the weight you normally lift) using the muscles that will be targeted by that day’s routine.
Now you are ready for a short one-minute rest, a drink of water and start your regular weight-lifting routine. Allow at least one hour to do the two warm-ups, your routine and a cool-down.
If you have not been warming up, you will find that you will actually have a better workout and be less sore the following day than when you had not been warming up first.
3) Choose the Appropriate Amount of Weight
Selecting the right amount of weight can be tricky at first. Your goal is for the last repetition in your set (the 12th one) to be very hard if not impossible to perform. This is known as muscle failure which is what you want if you are to progress toward your goal. The rule of thumb is to start lighter than you think you can lift and work up to the right amount of weight.
4) Use Proper Lifting Techniques
When lifting weights slow and steady beats fast and jerky every time. The goal is not to see how fast you can run through a routine.
When lifting, don’t arch your back, nor lean forward. Try to keep your head, neck and back all in alignment. Lift slowly while keeping focused on using proper form for the exercise you are performing at the time. When first starting out, it is a good idea to have a personal trainer watch you and correct your form if necessary.
You should allow at least an hour from start to finish, so that you can get in a good solid 30 minutes of lifting.
5) Cool Down After Lifting Weights Too
As you work through your lifting routine, your heart rate increases. The purpose of a cool-down is lower your heart rate back down to around what it was before you started your warm-up. You can cool down by doing a series of stretching exercises or by going through your warm-up routine again.
By following the advice in this article, you can safely enjoy the sport of weight lifting. Not only will you see an improvement in your physical stature, but your mental one as well. For more information on bodybuilding and fitness, get yourself a subscription to the MyFitnessNut.com newsletter and watch the Muscle Building Series video and start your weight lifting routine today.