Every day more women are joining men in the weightlifting room. They’re doing it to gain strength and improve body tone and body image. Along with increasing physical strength, lifting weights helps to improve mental strength as well. The following post will help to make sure you’re lifting weights safely.

Beginning Weight Training
When you’re first starting your weight lifting routine, it’s important to ensure that you start with a weight that can be lifted comfortably during a set number of reps. For most beginners, a set of repetitions can be approximately 12 to 15 with the proper weight.

  • If you do not know how to properly execute an exercise or station, read the instructions, which are usually written prominently on the equipment.
  • If you still don’t understand after reading the manufacturer-provided instructions, ask for assistance from gym staff or one of its members.
  • Remember, lifting weights is important for the muscle growth, but if it is not done right, it can cause more harm than good leading to injuries and chronic muscle pain. 

Watch Your Form
More important than using a heavy weight is doing the repetitions correctly. A full range of motion will achieve better results, and you’ll be less likely to sustain an injury. A personal trainer can offer critiques and tips for making sure your form is correct. Also, it’s vital that you listen to your body.

  • If you’re doing an arm strengthening exercise but your lower back hurts, you may be doing the repetitions incorrectly.
  • Pressure on the joints is also a bad sign.
  • Sore muscles are their own indication that you might want to rest between workouts. After strength training, it’s vital that the muscles are allowed to rest for forty-eight hours.

Injuries such as rotator cuff tear and shoulder impingement syndrome are some of the most common injuries that occur during weight training. If you feel any of the above when exercising, it’s time to check your form or lower the weight.

Use a Spotter
A spotter is someone who will be on standby and give you physical support when you get exhausted mid-lift or before you can finish your set.  A spotter can be your gym buddy, but it’s ideal to work with a professional trainer who knows what to do if you need assistance while lifting a weight. 

Proper Breathing and Balance
When lifting weights, try to keep breathing steadily and slowly. It’s best to breathe in and out with the lifting and lowering of the weight.

  • As you lift, breathe out and then breathe in as the weight is lowered to the beginning position.
  • All your muscles can be worked including legs, chest, shoulders and abdomen, and don’t forget about the backs of the arms and legs too.
  • It’s important that you perform a warm up before your workout. It can be a quick walk, a bit of stretching or some aerobic activity. 

Weekly Progression
When you start your weight lifting routine, you’ll likely start in the 5- to 10-pound range of weights. Make sure you’re challenging yourself during your routine. You don’t have to increase the weights each week, but change it up so you don’t become bored. Think about how you can increase or decrease the tempo of your lifting. For example, consider lifting and lowering faster or slower. Alternate the speed between reps as well as the rest time between sets.

Clothing for Your Workouts
While new workout gear will make you feel ready to tackle the world, it’ll also make a difference in how you feel after the workout itself.

  • Sweat needs to be pulled from the body to allow it to evaporate. This is what keeps your body cool. Breathable fabrics containing polypropylene will allow the body to breathe while wicking sweat away from the skin. This type of clothing won’t leave you with soaked clothing sticking to your skin.
  • The clothing you wear will depend on the exercise. Many people wear clothing that fits close to the body but not too tight that it binds you or cuts into your skin during a workout routine. Your clothing should also not be too loose that it gets in the way of your activities.

With safety tips in mind, you can have a great weight lifting workout. Remember to do warm up exercises beforehand, such as walking to the gym, and stretch your muscles after your workout. Pay a little more attention to your diet and try to get adequate sleep so that you can benefit fully from your training routine.  Consult with a trainer whenever possible to ensure that you’re performing the exercise correctly with the proper form to avoid injuries.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Kim Tacconi, PA-C