Most people think that there are no rules for proper weight training – just pick up some weights, lift as many times as you can, rest, and repeat. Not so! Following the “rules” of weightlifting will not only prevent injury, but can also help you better reach your fitness goals.
Rule #1: Choosing the right equipment
It is extremely important to make sure that the weights you use are the correct size for your particular level of fitness. Just starting out? Make sure to use weights that are slightly challenging, but do not cause painful strain on your body. Starting out with weights that are too heavy will not make you more fit; you will just stress your body more than necessary and you will have a much greater risk of serious injury. When you feel like it is time to increase weight, do so gradually.
Rule #2: Breathe!
It may sound simple, but breathing properly is one of the most important things you can do while weight training. Try to breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, at a steady pace. There is often an urge to hold your breath when exercising, especially when trying to lift weights that are heavy. Don’t! Holding your breath can cause you to become dizzy and can even make you pass out.
Rule #3: Proper Form
Making sure to control your body properly also contributes to safer weight training. Never lock your knees or elbows; this can cause severe harm to your bones and joints. Be sure to keep your knees slightly bent and positioned directly over your feet. When holding a weight bar, make sure to have your hands equally centered.
Rule #4: Always use a spotter
Even if you feel like you are strong enough or have weight trained long enough to not need a spotter, lifting free weights alone can be very dangerous, especially when bench pressing weights directly over your head. Even athletes need spotters – and there is no shame in being safe!
Rule #5: Pace yourself
As with any exercise program, it is always important to properly warm up before beginning and cool down after ending. Start slowly and gradually increase weight, number of repetitions, and number of sets. Weight train no more than 3 times per week, with days of rest in between. Something hurting? Stop! Figure out what the problem is and slow down, reduce the weight you are lifting, or take a break.
Weight training can be one of the most challenging -but rewarding- ways to get fit. Follow these simple rules for the best results!