By Janet Luhrs, www.simpleliving.com
As you and I both know, there are endless forms of weight training exercise these days. I’ve written about some of the options in the past, but for now, let’s focus on your form – regardless of the type of program you use. The single most important advice I can give you – especially when you’re over 50 – is to spend the money on a personal trainer before you ever lift a weight. I suggest hiring the trainer to meet with you at least three or four times, so she or he can help to make sure your form is correct. I cannot emphasize enough that this early training is well worth the money because in weight training – form is everything. If your form is not correct, you can really injure yourself. In general, here are a few tips about form:
- Warm up: All successful weight training programs will include a good warm up to get your muscles warm and ready for the challenge. Spend a minimum of five minutes in aerobic activity. Make sure to include warm ups for your arms and shoulders since just five minutes on a treadmill will not likely warm up these muscles. Both ellipticals and Nordic Tracks are good options for this.
- Speed is your enemy: Most people execute their exercises too quickly as they pop the weight back into the starting position. Slow down and focus on keeping your elbows in, your shoulders stable, and your spine in good position. When you combine bad form and speed, you are asking for torn ligaments or even popped vertebrae.
- Let your muscles generate your momentum: This means not arching your back or rocking your body to lift the weight. But when you’re just starting your weight training program, it’s not easy to tell whether your back is arched while you’re lifting weights. Again – this is a very important reason why you should hire a personal trainer for the first few times, so you’ll get to know how your body feels when your alignment is right. If you do feel the need to arch your back when lifting weights, that’s an indicator that your weights are too heavy. We have all seen the big guy in the gym grunting and throwing huge weights around with a lot of noise and bravado. Don’t worry about him and focus on your correct form. If you stick with weight training, and stick with keeping your form correct, you’ll slowly be able to lift more weight. When it comes to weight training, slow and steady wins the race!
- Ignore everyone else: Too many people see their private weight training session as an opportunity to compete with other athletes in the gym. Remember, your goals are gaining strength, achieving definition, and staying healthy. Trying to compete with the person next to you is a sure-fire way to get injured.
- Focus on that muscle at that moment: Here’s what I mean. For example, it sounds obvious, but if you are doing a bicep curl, your bicep should be the focus of your mind and you should feel the contraction primarily in that muscle. Each time you lift a weight, focus on the muscle that’s doing the lifting – not on the person next to you and not on your whole body. Maintaining this focus plays a role in injury prevention and getting the maximum benefit for your muscles from the exercise.
Keep these points in mind so you can maximize your time spent weight training and minimize injuries and frustrations. Happy Lifting!
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com