Lifting weights is one of the most effective ways you can build up strength in your muscles and it can also help you to get more out of your cardio workouts. Approached in the wrong way, however, it can easily lead to injury. What do you need to know in order to ensure that you’re lifting safely and in a way that will give you the full benefit of each exercise? This article will help you get to grips with grip and form.
Holding weights correctly
First things first: how should you actually be holding a weight? Most people who don’t know any better simply grab hold of it as tight as they can. This is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, it keeps your lower arm in a constant state of tension even when that’s not the part you’re trying to exercise, which can make it vulnerable to injury. Secondly, when you’re lifting heavier weights it can tear the skin on your hands.
Start by holding weights more loosely, tightening your grip only temporarily when you need to do so in order to keep them in position. Using weights with straps gives you extra security so that you don’t have to worry about dropping them. Wearing copper-infused protection around your hands will improve your grip and prevent skin damage, and you can get adjustable copper fit gloves so that you don’t have to worry about them slipping on your hands.
Choosing the right weight
Many people take on weights that are too heavy for them too quickly. If you choose weights that only require a medium amount of effort for you to lift and do more repetitions with them (moving them slowly), you’ll build up your strength more effectively than if you strain to lift a weight that’s really difficult for you just a few times. This will also reduce the risk of damage to your hands and wrists as you won’t be likely to lose control over the way the weights are positioned in your hands. You’ll be able to increase the amount you lift as you toughen up your muscles.
In order to avoid muscle damage, it’s important to balance your body. Work though all your major muscle groups in each exercise session rather than focusing on just one. This will make it easier for you to maintain good posture under strain. When lifting two dumbbells in parallel, make sure that they’re of equal weight and that you either lift them together or go through the whole movement on one side of your body before starting it on the other.
Staying in line
When you lift, make sure that only the parts of your body involved in the lift (which often includes you knees) are moving and keep other body parts straight. Don’t hunch your shoulders or tilt your head forwards – you may find that you do this instinctively to begin with, but it actually makes the lift harder. Even when you’re lifting in a bent position, it’s important not to slump. Unless you are specifically working on building up your wrists then the weight of what you are holding should pass through your whole forearm, not just the wrist itself. This means that it’s important to keep your wrists in line with your arms, not tilted backwards. Similarly, you should keep your feet flat and resist the temptation to rise up onto your toes.
You’ll find it much easier to maintain good posture if you breathe properly as you work out. When you’re taking the strain of the lift, during the hardest part of the exercise, breathe out through your mouth. As you release the strain, breathe in through your nose. This can take a bit of practice, but you’ll soon notice the difference it makes.
Why practice matters
When you’re trying a new sort of lift for the first time, use something lighter than what you’re used to lifting. This will give you the chance to practice and establish good form before you move on to something heavy enough to actually hurt you if you do it wrong. There’s usually no point in just going through the motions without weights because you’ll need a bit of resistance to get them right. Practicing like this will enable you to identify any areas where your limbs are not moving smoothly through the sequence or where you’re failing to keep the rest of your body in the correct form.
With the right grip and posture, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of injury when lifting and your lifts will do more to build up your strength.