Correct Posture for Lifting Weights

A guide to maintaining the right posture when weight lifting.

If not done properly, lifting weights can be a recipe for personal disaster. Not only will using the correct posture help you get more out of your training time in the gym, but it will also prevent injuries – some of which can be debilitating for a long time.

Here are five tips to using the correct posture when lifting weights:

1) Look straight ahead

In weight lifting, one of the most important things you can do is to keep your whole spine in a straight line from your neck down to your tailbone. By looking straight ahead, your neck stays in line with your spine, thus reducing the risk of suffering a neck injury.

2) Keep your shoulders back and chest in while lifting weights

When lifting weights, the back has a tendency to either round forward or to arch back, both of which can lead to injuries. With a rounded back, you are slightly bent forward; with an arched back, your back is overextended backward. In both situations, weight is not directly over your spine thereby increasing your chances for a painful herniated disk.

3) Slightly bend your knees

When lifting over your head, a slight bend at the knees also helps keep your spine straight and the weight centered over it. Locked knees lead to a rounding of your back and we already know what that can lead to.

4) Keep your back straight

Most of what we have already talked about has led us to this overarching principle – keep the weight centered over the spine by keeping your back straight or slightly overarched, very slightly. You don’t want the weight you are lifting to be too far forward or too far back. Strive to keep it centered over your spine and keeping your back straight will help accomplish this.

5) Keep your weight evenly balanced on your feet

Proper lifting form includes having your feet shoulder-width apart and your body (and the weight you are lifting) spread out evenly over the soles of your feet. To prevent hurting the arches in your feet, be sure to wear shoes with good arch support. Spreading the weight evenly over your whole foot provides you with a stable base and reduces the risk that a lift will throw you off balance possibly injuring your or someone close to you working out.

Maintaining good posture is so important to having good lifting form not to mention reducing your risk for an injury that can put you down for a long time. By using the correct posture to lift, you can safely get more out of your lifting sessions.

Lifting Weights Properly

There's a right way and a wrong way to start lifting weights.

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.

Cardio Warm-up

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.

Muscle Warm-up

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 newsletter and watch the Muscle Building Series video and start your weight lifting routine today.

Best Strength Training Workouts

The best strength training workouts over the centuries.

Strength training is a type of workout which is based on the principle that resistance (such as weights) causes your muscles to contract. These exercises build physical strength, improve endurance, and increase the size of your muscles.

The Best Strength Training Workouts of Ancient Times

Strength training is not exactly a new thing. In fact, it’s been practiced for thousands of years. Excavation of some ancient Egyptian tombs revealed pictures of people lifting bags filled with sand or stone for exercise. Lifting weights became part of modern Olympics because the ancient Greeks themselves had weight lifting contests. Hippocrates declared that using muscles develops them and on the other hand, not using them will cause muscle wasting. Legend has it that the wrestler Milo of Croton used to carry a newborn calf on his back each day until it was fully grown.

All of these early people didn’t have any of the fancy equipment that we have today but they were still compelled to lift heavy objects because for them it was fun, because they wanted to see who was stronger, and they wanted to be fit and healthy.

The Best Strength Training Workouts of the 1700’s

As the centuries rolled on, man’s interest in lifting weights did not waver, and they began to come up with new ways of boosting their strength. Did you know that the dumbbell was first invented back in the 1700’s? They put a rod in between church bells, and removed the clapper that hit the side of the bell. When the clapper was taken out, the bells became dumb, which at the time meant mute or silent. That’s how they came up with the term dumbbell for the contraption.

The Best Strength Training Workouts of the 1800’s

In the 1800’s, people used Indian clubs, which originated from what the ancient Persians called “meels”. By the late 19th century they also developed the barbell, and by the early 20th century the adjustable, plate-loading barbells became more common.

The Best Strength Training Workouts of the 1900’s

Then came the 1930’s and the fame of Charles Atlas. Bodybuilding competitions soon became popular, starting with the contests on the aptly named Muscle Beach in Venice, California. When the Nautilus variable resistance machines became popular in the 1970s, more and more people became interested, as the new machines were less intimidating than the barbells. The 1970s also saw the fitness craze boom with the increased interest in jogging and of course, weight lifting.

Quite a few celebrities were known for their physiques, including such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and a host of professional wrestlers and boxers. Today, the benefits of lifting weights are well known, and every serious professional athlete incorporates some sort of strength training in their workouts.

Even golf, supposedly the most relaxed and composed of sports, demonstrated the need for strength training when Tiger Woods – the most dominant golfer of his era and perhaps of all time – revealed that strength training was an integral component of his preparation.

Some of the best strength training workouts today can be found at with a few good examples being the Dumbbell Exercises at and the Kettlebell Exercises at Both of those are complete strength training workout programs with written and video instructions.