Tips for How to Use Free Weights Correctly
Whether you’re just getting started on improving your fitness or you’re a veteran weightlifter, using the correct technique is vital for not only getting the results you want from your exercise routine, but also key in preventing unnecessary injuries, uneven muscle development, and a host of other negative side effects that come from the improper use of free weights. On that note, we’ve put together a brief list of what to do and what not to do when it comes to using free weights. Continue on to learn how to use free weights!
For Proper Free Weights Technique, Keep These Things in Mind
When it comes to free weights, there are a number of common mistakes that people make. Below, you’ll find a few dos and don’ts that should help you use free weights correctly, though it’s important to seek the help of a physical trainer who can either teach you what free weights techniques should look like if you don’t know already or identify parts of your technique that need adjusting if you already know how to use free weights.
Proper free weights preparation will include wearing workout-appropriate clothing (including shoes that provide protection and traction), warming up your muscles at the beginning of your routine and before moving onto heavier weights, asking for help if you don’t know the correct way to use a particular set, and ensuring that all weight plates are properly secured before beginning to lift. Don’t try to figure things out on your own because that will increase your chances of injury from improper technique.
When you work out, no one is going to be paying attention to you long enough to be impressed by how much you can lift; focus on impressing yourself by perfecting your form before increasing your weight and the results will speak for themselves. Start with a weight you can comfortably lift twelve to fifteen times consecutively, with thirty- to ninety-second rests in between. As you gain more strength, you can increase your weight, though when you do so, use the smallest increment possible to build strength while avoiding overexertion. You’ll also want to exercise all sides of your body evenly, including the right, left, front, and back of each muscle group that you’re focusing on for even development all over.
Make sure you breathe throughout each lift; do not hold your breath. Keep your head up and maintain a straight spine while you lift, but don’t hyperextend your spine. Always lift at a safe speed, utilizing your legs, a full range of motion, and the full stretch and contraction of the muscle you are working on to lift the weight, as opposed to relying on the momentum of arching your back or rocking your body as people tend to do mistakenly or unintentionally. Avoid fully locking out your knees when doing leg extensions such as squats. Don’t exercise the same muscles two days in a row, as this can lead to overexertion and injury to the area.
Finally, know your limits, your capabilities, and your surroundings—especially if you’re working out alone at home. Stop immediately if you feel pain, dizziness, or faintness. When lifting very heavy weights, you should always use a spotter who knows how to use free weights for safety. If you’re working out in a home gym in your garage, lift during the time of day when temperatures are most comfortable to avoid overheating or injury from your muscles being too cold.
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