We’ve all heard it before: lift with your legs and not your back. This is common knowledge when attempting to pick up anything heavy, especially those massive weights at the gym. But when we’re well into a weight-training session a lot of us are still guilty of not adopting the proper form.
Sure, we all want to have the ability to pick up heavy weights in order to build muscle mass but there’s no point to it if you’re going to hurt yourself in the process. Not only can we cause serious injury to ourselves but improper form also means that we’re not working the intended muscle groups.
Why proper form is important
Proper form and technique is always important when exercising but it’s crucial when you add weights and resistance to your training regime. This is because the extra weight is unnatural and forces your muscles to work harder. While that’s obviously the entire point of weight training, because lifting the extra weight makes your muscles stronger, the strain also makes them more susceptible to serious injury.
By making sure your form is correct you reduce the risk of injury, work the right muscle groups for your specific exercise and increase your overall strength.
To maintain the correct form while weight training there are two things you need to pay attention to: your core and your scapula (also known as your shoulder blade).
By keeping your core engaged, you will stabilise your body and protect your spine. A retracted scapula (which means relaxing your shoulders and keeping them back) will protect your shoulders and neck while you train. When you focus on these two things you’ll be able to maintain the correct form and so make your workout safe for your body.
Tips to help you maintain proper form
As we mentioned earlier additional weight puts more strain on your body, specifically your joints and back. Here are some tips to help you maintain the correct for when weight training.
Practise your movements
It’s always good to practise your exercise before you even pick up the weights. This allows your body to adjust to the movement and get used to how it feels.
Have good posture
Good posture is very important when doing any type of exercise. Between reps, take a moment to make sure your posture is good. Is your back straight? Are you using your core?
Don’t forget to warm up
It’s always a great idea to do some form of stretching or aerobic exercise before weight training. This helps to warm up your muscles and make them more pliable which greatly reduces the risk of injury.
Heavier isn’t always better
Remember that proper form is always more important than how much weight you can lift. Never arch your back or strain your neck to create momentum for lifting too much weight. If you do, you could hurt yourself badly and that sort of strain makes your workout less effective.
Always increase your weight in small doses
While you might be tempted to go straight from lifting 5kg to 10kg, it’s not a good idea. Suddenly doubling the amount you’re lifting is not good for you. Always increase the size of your weights gradually. If you’re uncertain, it’s best to get some advice from a personal trainer at your gym.
Breathing is important
Remembering to breathe properly when weight training as it helps your body and muscles get enough oxygen to complete the workouts. If your breathing becomes laboured, take a 10-minute break and then continue.
Focus on the targeted muscles
While you’re working out its important to pay attention to the muscles you’re targeting. You need to make sure your other muscles aren’t doing all the work, rendering your workout pointless.
Move as far as your body will let you
It’s important to use a complete range of motion when weight training. Doing this makes your body and muscles more flexible. However you don’t want to push your body past its natural range of motion. If you’re unsure, ask a personal trainer at your gym to show you the correct range for each exercise.
Instead of relying on a personal trainer to advise you on how to exercise, why not become a personal trainer yourself? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Personal Training Diploma will give you the tools that you need to succeed in your chosen career path. For more information, visit the course landing page.