KNOW-HOW TO HELP YOU LIFT WITH CONFIDENCE
The benefits of working out with weights are huge, regardless of age or level of fitness. If you find yourself making a bee-line for the treadmill at each gym visit, these tips will help you to feel more confident in approaching the weights area.
Many of our members have previously being working out on their own at gyms in Clapham. It’s common to hear that they find the gym-floor an intimidating environment. This is often because they’re unsure of what they’re doing. They find lifting weights particularly confusing. Also the thought of lifting weights incorrectly and becoming injured can be frightening.
Here are 5 tips to give you the know-how to help you lift with confidence.
1. KEEP CORRECT FORM TOP PRIORITY
The most important tip to remember when lifting weights is that bad form is the express route to injury. To make sure you have correct form, keep the following points in mind.
If it feels painful, don’t keep doing it
The entire concept of ‘working through the pain’ is nonsense. Muscular ache and fatigue are different than sharp pain – the former is a part of the process, the latter is a red flag to stop. If you find that an exercise is painful, make a mental note of where and at what point the pain is occurring, and then ask for a gym staff member to watch your form without resistance (or, if you are training online with me, take a video through the app and I’ll review and report back). By performing the exercise without weight (and with a second set of eyes) you’ll get a better idea of what can be done to correct the movement.
Don’t sacrifice your form to lift heavier weights
Use correct form as a guide to help you increase the resistance lifted. If you have to round your back to complete a deadlift correctly, lower the weight and do it right – your low back will thank you for it.
Ask for help
If you have a question or need someone to spot you during an exercise, as one of the gym staff to help you.
2. BRACE TO SUPORT YOUR BACK
The Bracing Sequence, developed by Dr. Kelly Starrett, is a simple, 4-point process that ‘resets’ your spine. This is crucial to weight training because when your spine is in alignment, you are lifting weight safely. When you are not aligned you are exposed to injury risk.
Take a look at the video below, and perform this sequence at the start of every single exercise. This will put your spine in the correct position, which is key to lifting safely.
3. PUSH YOUR KNEES AND SHOULDERS OUT
To understand the importance of this point, it’s necessary to explain the concept of ‘torque’. Torque is the process by which you twist a joint in order to stabilise it. The more stable a joint is, the more safely you can perform exercise.
See the video below to understand how to utilise torque to stabilise your joints when performing squats and overhead press.
4. TRAIN YOUR WHOLE BODY NOT JUST FAVOURITES
I’ve been guilty of this many times, and I’ve seen others do this often too – completing exercises they like the most or that they excel at most.
You’re only as strong and stable as your weakest link. If balance is a problem for you, start performing exercises on one leg (it works, trust me). If your legs feel weak and unstable, make them your prime area of focus. By paying attention to your weakest points, you will come stronger and more stable over all.
5. CONTROL YOUR PACE OF MOVEMENT
It’s important to control your pace to maximise the benefits of using resistance.When you lift quickly (unless you are lifting for power), you will use momentum to complete the exercise. By slowing down the pace of movement, you will strengthen the joint(s) being used as well as causing a sustained contraction of the targeted muscle group. When a muscle contracts for longer, you will see more benefits from the training. By moving slowly through your exercises, while it may be tougher to complete the sets it will actually be a more effective use of your training time.
See the video below for an explanation of the importance of exercise pace.
Follow these 5 tips to get more out of your workouts at the gym, but as importantly to feel more confident so that you visit the gym more often. The key takeaway — practice makes perfect!
The video below gives you a weights workout to complete at the gym. This workout is suitable for all levels of fitness (providing there are no injuries).
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham. James focuses on building the best version of you and inspiring you to new levels of health and fitness – regardless of your current ability or age. James is always keen to share the tools he uses to assist others in achieving their goals and has featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Healthy and Hello! magazines.
Starrett, K. Dr. and Cordoza, G: Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance; Victory Belt Publishing, 2013