By Beth Davis, CPT, Quad City Fitness Blogger and Personal Trainer
Weightlifting offers great benefits that go far beyond beauty. How? Research shows that strength training burns fat, reduces your risk of disease, strengthens bones and is good for your heart, to name just a few benefits. It’s even been shown to help beat depression!
Any weight lifting program should begin before you hoist a single pound with the following checklist adapted from “How to lift weights the right way”:
1. Always warm up
It’s important to be warmed up and have your muscles ready for exercise. It’s better to do a dynamic warmup . A great warm-up readies your body and nervous system for a hard workout, eliminates your weak links, and improves your movement quality.
2. Use good form
Good form is always more important than lifting a lot of weight. Don’t arch your back, strain your neck, or swing the weight to complete a movement. Not only can you hurt yourself you’re not getting the full benefit of the weights.
3. Increase your weight by the smallest possible increment You want to have some progression in your weightlifting but you don’t want to jump too high too fast. A good rule of thumb is 5% increase.
4. Remember to breathe. In general, exhale forcefully through your mouth as you lift the weight and inhale deeply through your nose as you lower it. Just don’t overdo it because overly forceful breathing can leave you feeling lightheaded.
5. Use a full range of motion. In other words, pull or push as far as you’re supposed to. Using the full range of motion enhances your flexibility. However, you don’t want to go past a natural range of motion because this can cause injury to the joint.
6. Pay attention. Remind yourself which muscle you’re working, and focus on that muscle. It’s easy to do lat pull-downs without challenging your lats. And it’s easy to do abdominal crunches without really working your abs.
7. Don’t speed through an exercise.
8. Avoid swinging the weight by counting 3-2-1 for the eccentric or negative part of the movement and a 1 count for the contraction or concentric part of the exercise.
Now that we have a good warm up done and are ready to lift, let’s look at the lift and proper form. The exercises I will demonstrate in the video portion of the blog will all be done with a barbell. Barbells are versatile and you can do plenty of exercises with one barbell. Most exercises I demonstrate can also be done with dumbbells.
Now that we have a good warm up done and are ready to lift, let’s look at the lift and proper form. Barbells are versatile and you can do plenty of exercises with one barbell. Most of these exercises can also be done with dumbbells.
1. Squat. Squats work your legs, but also the rest of your body. They are key to building strength and should be part of any routine!
2. Bench Press. The most popular exercise in the gym, the Bench Press works your chest & triceps muscles. Keep your feet planted on the ground and your butt on the bench!
3. Overhead Press. Push weight overhead while standing. The Overhead Press works your shoulders, triceps, back and abs. You can stand with feet shoulder width apart or stagger one leg in front of the other.
4. Deadlift. Besides working the legs, the Deadlift builds a strong back by teaching you to keep your spine rigid against a load. Hands are on the outside of your knees and hips stay low as you push against the floor to a standing position.
5. Barbell Row. Pulling weight from the floor against your lower chest. The Barbell Row works your back & biceps. Keep a flat back with shoulder blades squeezed together.
6. Deadlift – all over body strength – starting from a dead stop. Start with your hands on the bar just outside your knees, with a flat back and hips low. Keep your hips down and drive your knees outward against your arms. Engage last by taking the slack out of the bar and push against the floor.
Mastering these lifts will give you a great base for your exercise plan … and improve every single part of you!!!