The Do’s and Don’ts of Weightlifting

I often see, and I’m often asked plenty, about what should always be done, and, what should never be done in a gym. Sort of general do’s and don’ts – so I thought it’d be a good idea to write an article with some such ideas which ought to help you keep safe and keep making progress and avoid some common pitfalls.

Here are some of the most important.

Do’s:

  • Always warm up: You don’t necessarily have to stretch before lifting, as this removes energy and takes the tension out of the muscles, but, you do have to perform warm up sets. A cold muscle attempting a lift which pushes its capacity can result in devastating consequences such as muscle and tendon damage – so always perform at least 3 lighter warm up sets until prior to any exercise to ensure your muscles are ready for the bigger lifts.
  • Stretch after exercising: Stretching not only helps to remove lactic acid, but also helps to keep the muscles supple and flexible. Stretching is particularly important for shoulder muscles and can have a big and positive impact upon curbing common rotator cuff issues.
  • Always breath between reps: It’s common for people to be so hung up on concentrating on lifting that they hold their breath. You should always ensure you breath in between repetitions – usually at the top point of the rep, at the point of full relaxation, a big breath (or a few breaths) should be drawn in, and the lift performed whilst breathing out. The exception to this is the squats, when the breath will be held in, to help cushion the squat.
  • Drink water: You’ll seriously dehydrate fast during an intense training session, and your wellbeing and efforts will suffer. Never think just because you’re only going to be in the gym for an hour that you won’t need to drink – it’s imperative.

Don’ts:

  • Never sacrifice form for weight. Don’t let your ego control what you lift, let your body decide that for itself. If you can’t lift a certain weight and struggle to complete a set beyond normal muscle fatigue – you simply aren’t strong enough to lift that kind of weight yet. So, drop down, and build up to it.
  • Never do the same thing forever. Yes, just about everything will work – for a while, but then the gains will become stagnant, or even go backwards if you don’t change it up. Incorporate different tactics, more reps, less reps, faster, slower, different angles, different exercises, etc.
  • Don’t train every day. Seriously, very few guys can do this without being on steroids, and you’ll probably find you’ll make much greater gains by simply training less. Try 3 times a week maximum with a days rest in between each.
  • Never round your back. There are virtually no popular exercises during which the back should round. If you are doing dead lifts, for example, the back should always be taut. Rounding the back could lead to a serious injury which is why you must always try to keep your back tight and flat during exercises which require heavy back involvement.

There you have it. I hope you find these tips useful and they help you to stay safe and make great progress in the gym.

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