We all have at least some kind of idea or goal when we decide to start working out. Even if our goal isn’t quite specific, we still have the intent to make some kind of improvement whether its loosing weight, gaining muscle, getting stronger, or just overall body development.
Progress is key in virtually anything that we desire to accomplish in life, but if we aren’t equipped with the right tools and if we don’t have a better understanding of what it is that we are doing, then we can very well be hindering our path to success.
I want to share something very important with you. I think it’s something that can often be overlooked and that is having proper weight lifting techniques. It can be very beneficial to you because unfortunately, there are far too many common mistakes that are being made in the gym every day and the last thing we want to do is waste our precious time and not get the results that we want.
Refrain From Using Momentum.
Safety should always be the overwhelming priority when working out and if you’re swinging the weight around or using momentum, you are of course increasing the chances of an injury.
Using momentum or leverage to move the weight actually takes away the tension from the muscle that’s being worked on. This is highly counter-productive especially if you are counting on muscle growth as you are rushing through the repetitions and reducing the muscles time under tension.
An example of this, is when someone is performing a standing barbell curl and they lean back while swinging the weight up with their arms. The proper way to perform this exercise would be to stand upright and have your elbows close to your sides. Then using an underhand grip, curl the weight up until you engage in your biceps and squeeze, Then slowly lower the bar keeping controlled tension on the biceps.
Now, there are exercises that would actually allow you to use some momentum like kettle bell swings or power cleans which would involve thrusting your hips to get the weight up and those kinds of workouts are good for functional strength. Most Olympic style weight training does require momentum as well. But if you are focusing more on muscle growth and hypertrophy, then I would avoid using momentum.
Breathing is Life
It’s what keeps us alive. It’s the thing that we’ve been doing since birth. Its something that we don’t think about, we just do it. We do it in our sleep, Yet, when we are weightlifting, we tend to kinda screw that up a little.
Typically, our focus is more centered on performing the exercise. It’s very common especially at a beginner level. But not only do we have to get in the habit of breathing during exercise, we should also know how to do it effectively.
When it comes to weight training, it’s a common mistake to hold your breath during an exercise and honestly it took me some time to break out of that habit. This can easily cause dizziness and even an increase in blood pressure. Your brain and your muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen which also will cause a decrease in power and strength when performing a lift.
So when you are breathing during a workout, you want to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As simple as that sounds, most people forget to do that. You want to breathe through your diaphragm allowing your stomach to expand.
When you are doing the push part of a workout, for example, the bench press, you want to exhale when lifting the weight up which would be the concentric part of the movement because that would require more force. The same would go for a pull movement such as the barbell row.
An easy way to remember this is to simply exhale on the concentric phase of the exercise (The part of the exercise that requires the most force.) So in other words, exhale on the most challenging part of the exercise and inhale during the less challenging phase.
Warm Up Those Muscles.
As I mentioned above, safety should always be first and one way to ensure that is to warm up before your workout. This helps prepare your muscles for whatever physical activity that you are about to perform and helps prevent strains or injuries.
You want to allow an increase in blood flow and oxygen to go to your muscles. That will cause an increase in body temperature as well as more flexibility and better reaction time due to the increased sensitivity of nerve receptors.
So how should you warm up? Well, it is recommended to do dynamic stretching before your workout. These stretches are intended to activate your muscles and get your body moving. Some examples of this would be walking lunges, torso twists, hip circles, spinal rotations, or arm swings.
Then you also have static stretching, which is best to do after your workout. This is the type of stretch where you would hold a position for a particular length of time. This helps with range of motion and flexibility. It can also relieve muscle soreness. Some examples of this would be shoulder stretches, side bends, calf stretch, hamstring stretch, head bend, or quadriceps stretch.
Kill Your Ego – You vs You.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that happen in the gym and it is very detrimental to muscle development. People are willing to compromise proper form and put themselves at risk for an injury because they lift too heavy in order to impress other people.
Don’t worry about what others think of you and focus on your own journey. The last thing you want is to do meaningless work at the gym. Lifting heavy without controlled form will absolutely kill your gains.
I’m sure that those experienced individuals at the gym will have a greater amount of respect for you if you are willing to focus on executing the movement instead of trying to turn things into some kind of extravaganza.
So please, don’t do yourself a disservice by loading up the bar with a weight that’s clearly too heavy for you. The thoughts of me doing this in the past are just cringeworthy.
Use a challenging weight but don’t let that weight control you. Execute the movement and progressively overload with time. If you are willing to follow those basic concepts, then you will definitely produce the results that you are looking for.
You Can’t Build A Great Body On A Weak Foundation.
I’ll be honest, I’ve spent a lot of time at the gym and the beginning of my fitness journey was pretty rough. Not only because of me being a newbie but because I didn’t take the time to really learn the fundamentals.
I’m sure I could have gotten faster results had I just learned these things that I mentioned above. Fortunately, no matter what level of fitness you are in, if you are experienced or just starting out, there’s always opportunities to advance and learn something new.
Whether your’re the kid in the high school weight room, or a regular at your local gym, take what I’m saying with high consideration. Not only is this invaluable advice but if you want to see change then apply these principles.
So remember this, build a solid foundation. Learn the proper techniques and progress the weight over time. Have the right mindset when you are at the gym and you will reap all the benefits. I hope this was helpful!