Weightlifting is, in many ways, the quintessential gym workout. When you think of a healthy gym-goer, it’s easy to imagine a buff person deadlifting tons of kilos and hardly breaking a sweat. In reality, a well-muscled physique doesn’t automatically equate to a good, healthy one, just like being able to lift a 50 kg doesn’t always mean you’re doing it right.
And when it comes to weightlifting, there actually is a right way of doing things—otherwise, you run the risk of some pretty serious injuries if you’re not careful. So how exactly should you be lifting those kilos, and what happens if you get it right?
Learning From The Pros
Unlike other exercises, it is better to have a professional coaching you through your weightlifting journey. For starters, they will keep an eye out for you and are trained to respond correctly should anything come up. If you’re just about to start lifting weights, definitely enlist the help of a qualified trainer to work you through the hoops.
If you’ve been self-taught all this time, getting a professional opinion is just as important to know if you have the proper form, the correct weight for what you can properly handle, and other such factors you might have missed without someone spotting for you.
BENEFIT: You’ll be on the right track. As embarrassing as it can be to blunder in front of someone, it’s far better to have a pro watching over you to correct your mistakes and help you get the workout you’re supposed to than to risk injury by doing the wrong thing like having incorrect form or choosing a weight that’s beyond your level. Most importantly, you’re less likely to flake off on your fitness goals when you specifically have someone to keep you on track.
Before anything else, figure out first the appropriate amount of weight you can actually do. If you’ve never actively lifted anything more than a 5-kilo backpack, don’t immediately rush to the double digits. Instead, always start with something light, and perform longer repetitions.
The conditioning your body gets from these motions is what builds your strength; not merely the weight itself. Find a weight that is comfortable for you, then lift it 12 to 15 times per set, with sufficient rest between sets. Gradually increase the weights between sessions, taking care not to lift anything too heavy too quickly.
BENEFIT: You can actually do the exercise. It can be off-putting if things don’t go your way, so don’t set yourself up for failure and start with something you can readily do, then work your way up to harder goals.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re still waiting on your instructor, research on the proper weightlifting forms and practice what you need. Start with the basics and make sure you’re well warmed-up. Go through the motions first without weights and familiarize yourself with the movements. Remember to keep a good posture and solid balance, and integrate proper rest into your routines. Once you get the forms right, start with lighter weights, and maintain a steady routine, such as a twice- or thrice-weekly session, until the motions become second nature.
BENEFIT: You’re less likely to commit mistakes in the long term—just as long as you’re practising the right thing. When the motions come naturally to you, you are no longer distracted by the infinitesimal details of the exercise, and you can concentrate entirely on improving yourself. Training your body to memorise the movements will also make you less self-conscious about them, which can make your gym time that much easier.
Warm Up Well
Never forget to warm-up. Get the blood flowing properly throughout your body; cold muscles are more likely to be injured than warm ones, so be sure to have a full body warm-up per session. Even a five to ten-minute aerobic exercise can do wonders for your whole routine.
BENEFIT: Warming up properly significantly reduces the risk of injury. It gets you into the right mindset and focuses you on the activities up ahead. Moreover, warm-ups can be an exercise onto themselves, so you’re already getting a head start on your fitness goals, even before you get to the main event.
Just Keep Breathing
One mistake that’s easy to make when lifting something heavy is to hold your breath. Doing so adds an extra, unnecessary stress to your body, and the shortage of breath can really put you off kilter. Breathe steadily when weightlifting, and time your breaths to your actions to better set the pace. Lift the weights on an exhale, and lower them on an inhale.
BENEFITS: You need oxygen to circulate through your system and allow your body to actually move, so don’t cut off your supply. When you move in sync with your breathing, the rhythm you set means you’re more likely to have controlled, even movements, which is essential in any good workout, particularly this one.
Take a Break
If the pros said it once, they’ve said it a thousand times: resting is just as important as the workout itself. Your body can only handle so much work, so always include breaks in your regimen. For best results, exercise on rotation. If, for example, you’re doing a full-body workout every session, be sure to pay equal attention to your target muscle groups in single sessions, two to three times weekly. If, on the other hand, you have designated days per group, schedule your gym time so you don’t exercise the same group twice in a row.
BENEFITS: You give your body time to acclimate and adjust. It’s easy to think that nonstop workouts are the fastest way to your fitness goals, but your body needs to accommodate the changes you’re introducing to it, and it’s these moments that actually make or break you.
How To Get Started
Weightlifting is a great exercise if done correctly, and there’s no denying the slew of benefits you get from incorporating this into your routine. It works out all your core muscle groups, building your strength and stamina, and toning your body all around.
Given all this, it is imperative that you take care to have the right form and movements when doing this exercise. Get a professional to help you through the process, especially if you’re new. Select a weight you can actually lift. Practice the motions over and over until it becomes second nature. Warm up properly. Breathe steadily, and use the rhythm to guide you. And finally, remember to take a break and let your body recover from the stress.
At Rec Express, we have a dedicated team and personal trainers who are committed to seeing you crush your fitness goals. We will be with you through every step of the way to ensure that you are able to carry out safe and proper exercises, and that you get to engage in enjoyable fitness activities you can look forward to doing.