Lifting weight is a great way to build strength and muscle mass, and it’s associated with a number of positive health outcomes. However, it can also be dangerous if you use improper form or if you’re inexperienced.
Many people consider starting a weightlifting routine, but abandon the idea out of fear or intimidation – but you don’t have to be intimidated. It’s much simpler to lift weight safely, even as a newcomer, than you might imagine.
The Value of Weightlifting Safety
The benefits of weightlifting safety are somewhat obvious. Lifting weight safely means you’ll be much less likely to suffer an injury, such as a muscular strain, a break, or something even more serious. You’ll be in much greater control of your movement, you’ll stay healthier, and you’ll feel better during every workout.
However, you should also know that many of the strategies that can keep you safe during weightlifting can also help you get more value out of each exercise. Lifting weight with proper form and with proper equipment means you’ll have excellent efficiency of motion and you’ll be targeting very specific muscular groups. That means you’ll maximize the value you get out of every lift, and you’ll be able to build your strength more reliably from session to session.
Tips for Lifting Weight Safely
What steps can the average person take to lift weight more safely from the beginning?
- Work with a professional. Your best option is to work with a professional, such as a personal trainer. Personal trainers are educated and experienced in the world of health and fitness, so they can teach you the proper way to do almost any exercise. Even better, they’ll be with you, coaching you in individual sessions, so they can identify examples of improper form and gently correct you to the right way of exercising. More than that, personal trainers can help you establish full exercise routines, goals, and even better nutritional habits.
- Read the instructions. When using new or unfamiliar equipment for the first time, make sure you read the instructions. Most of the machinery at the gym, including cardio machines and weightlifting machines, will include safety advisements and instructions on how to use each machine properly. If you read this, and follow the instructions, you’ll be significantly less likely to hurt yourself while using the machine.
- Use proper form. Good form is required if you want to lift weight safely and effectively. Essentially, good form allows you to minimize your risk of injury while maximizing the efficient movements coming from your target muscle groups. There’s a bit of a learning curve when learning how to use proper form, since it’s hard to judge your own form while lifting. That’s another reason why it’s important to work with other people, including a personal trainer or a spotter, who can help you notice when your form is off.
- Start with a small amount of weight. You might be tempted to push your limits right away, but it’s much safer to start with a small amount of weight. Lifting less weight will give you greater control over your movement and all but eliminate the risk of lifting more than you can handle. Once you feel comfortable with a certain amount of weight, increase it gradually until you have a better understanding of your comfort zones in each lift.
- Know your vulnerabilities. Your most vulnerable areas while weightlifting are your lower back, your shoulders, and your knees. If you have a previous injury, you may have additional vulnerabilities to worry about. Make sure you understand these potential weak points and avoid overstraining them.
- Don’t lock your joints. One important general best practice is to avoid locking your joints. Too many people end up overextending their joints simply because they instinctively locked them at an important point during the lift.
- Rest. It’s also important to know when to rest. Resting between sets is important to ensure you can continue to remain in control while you lift – and resting between sessions will help your muscles recover fully (and grow). Avoid lifting too much, too fast – and listen to your body.
- Perform exercises in a slow, controlled manner. Finally, try to perform all your exercises in a slow, controlled, and deliberate manner. In their eagerness and excitement, many novice weightlifters use fast, jerking motions to throw weight around – but this is a recipe for serious injury. It’s much better to take your time and focus on using proper form.
With these tips and strategies, you should have a much easier time lifting weight safely – and you’ll feel more confident doing it. With a bit of practice and experience, you’ll be able to push yourself further without compromising your safety. You might even learn to love working out more than you currently do.