Fitness and Bodybuilding Faster - Weightlifting Safety and Training Tips for Fitness, Bodybuilding and Sports Performance
Welcome to the first of a series of Fitness and Bodybuilding Faster training articles. We have decided to lead the series building a solid foundation with one of the most important aspects of your fitness or bodybuilding program- regardless of your level of training or the type of training that you perform- weightlifting safety. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, bodybuilder or powerlifter, or just looking to increase your sports performance- safety should be the foundation of your training program.
The following weightlifting safety tips apply whether you train at home, a health club, a school weightlifting room, or in the bowels of a bodybuilding gym. Before you pick up that barbell or dumbbell, or park yourself on that next piece of workout equipment- you should familiarize yourself with the basic safety concepts associated with weightlifting.
With the fitness world constantly changing and evolving, and athletes continually fine tuning their training program- the one thing that should always remain constant is safety. We don’t don’t just mean for yourself, but for others working out around you. Follow these basic guidelines for lifting weights and training safer and reducing the risk of injury to you or others training with or around you.
Workout Area and Equipment
· Make sure the equipment you use is in good working condition.
· Use proper lifting techniques when moving weights around the room, and always be aware of other athletes around you so you don’t interfere with their safety needs or cause them injury.
· Make sure pins are secure in the machine prior to each lift, and that safety bars or catches are in place and properly positioned to be effective should you lose control of the weight(s).
· Make sure there are no obstructions in the weightlifting area.
· Wear proper footwear to ensure support, stability and good traction during the performance of each exercise, as well as protection for your toes and feet.
Yourself and/or Your Training Partner
· Most people should wait until they are at least 14 years old before trying the major lifts, such as squats, deadlift, and bench press. At 14, most athlete’s bodies are mature enough for these compound exercises. The major lifts are likely to cause injury if you lift heavy weights without proper technique and the help of spotters, especially if your muscles are not mature enough to properly recover from previous sessions.
· Find a mentor who can help you learn how to do the exercises correctly. Good technique is one of the most important ways to avoid injury. A high school coach or athletic trainer can help you. If a college is located in your town, the strength coach for the varsity athletic teams may be able to give you advice or recommend another instructor. Books, DVD’s and videos can help, but nothing beats personal instruction from a properly accredited mentor.
· Warm up and cool down for each session. Your warm-up session before lifting weights should include stretching exercises, some light calisthenics and/or aerobics to warm up your muscles with sufficient bloodflow. When you begin each weightlifting exercise, use small amounts of weight at first and then progress to heavier weights. Light stretching and additional aerobic work are also important during your cooldown to flush your muscles of waste byproducts accumulated during your physical workout.
· Before performing an exercise, be sure of proper technique. Your success in training depends to a large extent upon the proper technique of the exercise movements. If you are performing an exercise for the first time- use a light amount of weight and focus on your form and technique first, before using heavy amounts of weight.
· Always use additional safety accessories like: gloves, lifting belts for heavy lifting, wrist/bar straps to help with grip, and even joint wraps or braces for weak or recovering joints- usually lower back, elbows, knees wrists or ankles.
· Don’t lift heavy weights without spotters, safety racks or Smith-type machines that can control or isolate the weight if you should lose control or sustain an injury during the movement.
· Don’t lift more than you know you can lift safely as this could injury to yourself or others around you if you should lose control of the weight(s).
Workout Execution and Performance
· Always assume proper lifting form. When lifting free weights from the floor, make sure that the feet are close to the exercise bar, the hips lowered in a squat position, the head is up, and the back is straight. Always lift with the legs and not the lower back.
· When performing resistance exercises, you should always control the motion of the weight during all phases of the lift. This means having control of the movement when working with gravity as well as against gravity.
· Use as much resistance as possible without sacrificing proper technique. The technique is of great importance in any exercise being performed to properly work the target muscles, and progress towards heavier weight resistance.
· Don’t “cheat” on your technique just to lift heavier weights than you can properly and safely handle as this could cause injury or negate the focus on that muscle group by recruiting other non-targeted muscle groups to assist in moving the weight.
· Follow a proper progression of weight advancement in each exercise. Resist the temptation to see how much you can lift. When too much emphasis is placed on the actual amount of weight being used, the result is almost always a reduction in form quality technique, and as a result- safety.
· Weight should not be moved on the rebound, or “bounced” off of your body. Stay in control and lift through a full range of motion. The resistance should be controlled and moved smoothly and slowly with a definite pause and muscle flex at the work end of all movements, and at the bottom or start position.
· Don’t breathe in and out quickly or hold your breath when you lift heavy weights. You may faint and lose control of the weights. Breathe out slow and controlled when you perform the lift.
· Concentrate on your exercises when performing them and the specific muscles you’re working. Do not carry on a conversation at the same time. Do not simply “go through the motions”- you MUST maintain focus on safety while performing the exercise movement.
Fitness and weight training are not only beneficial to your body, but to your life. Being in top physical condition can not only help extend your life- it can make every day life more enjoyable and productive. We wish you all the luck in the fitness goals you set for yourself, and all of the benefits of not just the goals themselves- but the benefits along the path to those goals as well.
NOTE: Lifting weights can cause serious injury or even death to yourself or even those training around you. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN FOR APPROVAL BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.