Resistance training is an excellent way to enhance strength, tone, definition and muscle endurance. It is also a great way to increase your metabolic rate along with your body’s natural fat burning capacities! However, when it comes to lifting weights, if you are not doing it right, then you are going to find one of three things:
You Injure Yourself - Form is incredibly important when it comes to lifting weights. Poor form can be enough to cause serious damage to your back, legs, arms, or basically any part of your body. Making sure that you use the correct form for each practice will not only help support and protect your joints, ligaments and muscles, it will also ensure you have the best balance, leverage and movement that is required to complete each exercise.
Tip: Don’t avoid an exercise just because you are uncertain, check out tutorial videos or even better, ask one of the personal trainers at your local gym to guide you and make sure that your form is correct.
You Overwhelm Your Muscles - If you start to train too much, or use weights that your body is not yet conditioned for, then you risk overwhelming your muscles and stalling any progress. Sure, you may not go as far as to cause injury as mentioned above, however if you are not giving your muscles the adequate time to recover, or you are using weights that are too heavy and cause you to sacrifice your form in order to complete the reps, you risk injuring yourself and you are not going to be making the progress you desire.
Tip: When it comes to progressing with weights and/or increasing your reps, remember to listen to your body, not compare yourself to the person next to you that has been slogging it at the gym non-stop for the past 5 years. The best advice I can give you is a little bit at a time is best. There is no need to jump up 20 kilos, or add 20 more reps to your set, add 1-5 kilos max and add 5 more reps if needed. If you still find it is too easy, then you can always add a little more.
You Don’t Make Progress - If you don’t know what you are doing and you grab 2-kilo weights, yet spend most of your day carrying shopping, children, or study books, then chances are they will be too easy for you and you are going to need slightly heavier weights. That is not to say that light weights are not effective in their own right, however, if you are looking to gain strength and definition, then you need to be using the correct weights. Another common obstacle people come across is plateauing from progression. If your body adapts to specific weights, so that they become easy to use, and you don’t make the appropriate adjustments by increasing the weight or reps, then you will find that you stop progressing. You may maintain what you have achieved, however, progression requires alterations along the way.
Tip: Don’t just grab the first weights you see, or use the machine at the rate the last person left it at, test your strength and find a weight that is manageable. By manageable, you want it to be challenging, but not so challenging you cannot do 10- 15 reps without losing your form. Again if you are not certain you are using the correct weight for your strength level, ask one of the personal trainers at your local gym to help you out.
If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask!