You’ve tried cardio routines like jogging or working out on the elliptical to reach your fitness goals. Now you’re wondering if you should add dumbbells and kettlebells to tone your muscles. Before you head back to the gym, make sure you read these eight safety tips and learn how to lift weights correctly.
Injuries happen easily while straining your muscles and posture with excess weight. If you can’t work with a professional trainer, use these tips to stay safe while learning something new in the gym.
1. Use the Proper Form
Every curl or squat that utilizes extra weight depends on your form to target specific muscle groups. If you break form, you could pull muscles that compensate for the improper positioning.
Even if you use the lightest weights, use the proper form for every routine. Balancing the weight with your posture and maintaining control of your movements will help you reach your goals while listening to your body’s needs.
2. Never Skip Warm Ups
Beginners often skip warm ups because they feel silly, but it’s an essential part of learning how to lift weights correctly. If you jump right into your routine, your stiff muscles could suffer injuries because they aren’t ready for the extra weight.
Before starting your next workout, find a strength-training warmup that keeps certain muscle groups in mind. A cardio-based warmup will prepare your body for a different kind of exercise, which could result in muscle tears or ruptures.
3. Start With Light Weights
You have big goals for your body, but you won’t reach them on your first day at the gym. Start with the lightest weights to discover which are too easy or too heavy. The best starting weights won’t keep you from completing each move but should challenge you after you begin your routine.
Starting with weights that push your limits makes common injuries more likely, such as ligament sprains or chronic shoulder pain. If you ever feel unsure about which weights you should use, use a lighter set and see how you feel after completing your normal workout. You can always increase your weights by a pound or two next time.
4. Increase Your Weights Slowly
Beginners can also start their weight lifting journey by learning one or two moves. After you have the basics down, like your form and timing, use heavier weights. You’ll know it’s time to graduate to a new set of weights when your normal moves become easy.
As you get stronger, resist the impulse to jump another five or ten pounds. Increasing your weights slowly teaches your muscles to adjust under pressure and prepares them for the heavier equipment you’ll use when your body’s ready.
5. Don’t Mix Routines
Once you practice with a kettlebell or barbell, don’t mix your routines. Each type of equipment requires different forms. Stick with one kind of weights until it feels normal to use them. You can move onto routine variations after you master your new routine. You’ll never mix your forms and accidentally hurt yourself.
6. Time Your Breathing
Beginners often hold their breath as they lift weights. It’s better to time your breathing. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale when it slowly lowers back down. You’ll deliver oxygen to your muscles when they need it most. It’s a key part of making it through circuit routines and intense rounds without breaks. Timing your breaths powers your muscles without overexertion.
7. Learn Your Limits
Pushing yourself too hard during a cardio routine might lead to dizziness or even vomiting. Strength training has different limits. If your weights are too heavy, you could experience muscle spasms or joint pain.
Learn your body’s limits by monitoring how you feel. If you can’t lift more than five-pound weights and don’t feel prepared to use equipment, you can always start a home-based routine to strengthen your arms without weights. Once heavy household objects aren’t a challenge, you can graduate to five or even ten-pound weights.
8. Never Lose Focus
Getting distracted during strength training can be dangerous. Improve your focus by learning about internal and external distractions. Research found that removing external distractions like phone notifications promotes automatic control of actions and improves conscious cognitive control. You’ll never get bored or make a mistake that could result in an injury.
Start Lifting Weights Correctly
Now that you know how to lift weights correctly, use these tips to start strength training today. You’ll learn how to find your limits, push yourself correctly and monitor your progress as you strive for your new fitness goals.