Weight training is important for muscular strength and endurance as well as bone health. When I am supervising the floor of a fitness center, I stay alert for people who may be following improper form or need a helpful reminder. Make sure your routine is done right so you get the results you want!
1. Warm Up
Warming up improves blood flow to tissues, which helps with muscle performance and flexibility. You can do gentle stretching, light cardio, or light lifting before heavier lifting.
2. Use Good Form
When you lift weights or use weight training machines, you need to know correct form in order to lift safely, and to achieve the best results. Ask a fitness professional before you begin an exercise program with weights. An important general rule: lift weights in a slow and controlled manner; never fast and jerky.
3. Keep Your Back Straight
Good lifting form includes keeping the back straight and not curved when lifting or squatting. If you can’t maintain a straight back, you are probably lifting too heavy weights.
4. Check the Weight of Your Weights
Start with light weights and progressively move to heavier weights and more challenging exercises. Don’t lift too light for too long, and don’t lift too heavy too early. Ask a trainer for advice if you’re not sure how to do this.
5. Use a Spotter When Lifting Heavy Weights
A “spotter” is a person who helps when you train with heavy weights. He or she is there to grab the weight if you are unable to lift it and are at risk of dropping it. Safety is crucial!
6. Never Train the Same Muscles Two Days in a Row
Weight training should be performed on alternate days, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to give your muscles a chance to recover and build. If you want to weight train on back-to-back days, focus on different muscle groups, such as chest, back and arms on Monday, legs and abs on Tuesday.
7. Don’t Train if You Are Sick
You don’t want to risk spreading your germs at the gym. And if you need rest, you don’t want to overexert yourself by weight training. Wait until you are well.
8. Be Courteous to Other Exercisers
Don’t hog the machines or workstations if people are waiting. Put things back where they belong. Wipe down the machines after using and have a towel handy to stay dry.
9. Cool Down
At the end of your exercise routine, cool down to lower your heart rate slowly to its normal level. The best way is to engage in some light cardio exercise or do a series of easy stretching exercises for 10 to 15 minutes. Performing stretches at the end of your routine is optimal for increased flexibility and a reduced risk of injury.