Fitness Friday – 5 Most Common Weight Lifting Mistakes
I don’t take for granted how very smart and knowledgeable you readers are. Many of you are already weight lifting regulars, or at least well versed with fitness. That being said, there is a good chance you (or someone you know!) are making at least one of these mistakes. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect in the weight room. I am always checking in with myself and learning on how I can exercise better. It’s important to constantly remind ourselves of these things and spread the word!
1. You’re using bad form
Not only do I go by “personal trainer” but I now also go by “professional nag.” (My mother will find great enjoyment in this) This is because I am always nagging people to keep up proper form.
“Keep your shoulders down.”
“Face the floor/ceiling, keep your spine straight.”
“Elbows tucked in.”
“Heels planted to the floor.”
The above are just some of my most common nags. Thankfully, my clients never get too annoyed. They understand that my constant attention to detail ensures they’re working the right muscles – which means they’ll get the results they’re after!
Think about it – those bicep curls are getting hard. You let your elbows float out from your waist, your chin dips down, your shoulders shrug up. Your biceps? Not doing much! Suddenly, you’re putting undue stress and tension into all the wrong areas of your body. Know your forms and check in with yourself on every single rep. It makes a world of difference. You’ll be sore in all the right places the next day ;)
2. You’re lifting too light
My rule of thumb is that if you can get up to 20 reps and still feel like you could push out more, you’re not lifting heavy enough. Depending on the type of program you’re on, anywhere from 8-15 reps should be your max. On those last two reps, I want you shaking, grunting, sweating and doing all sorts of funny facial contortions. Dude. I want those last two reps to be hard.
If you’re doing bodyweight exercises that feel too light, add some load, resistance, instability or extra distance. Grab on to dumbbells, pull a cable with you, do it on a bosu ball or on a step. And don’t forget to constantly be increasing the weights you’re using. It should always feel challenging, even as you get stronger!
3. You’re doing the same exercises
Weight lifting programs can stay the same for 3 months at the most. Your muscles are highly adaptable. They will stop working as hard if you’re doing the same exercises day in and day out. In order to keep stimulating muscles, you want to keep surprising them with exercises that are new and different. Always be introducing new moves and routines to your weight lifting regimen. Especially important as your level of fitness increases. You’ll need new, more advanced exercises to keep your workouts effective.
4. You’re not resting
The basics of gaining muscle are this: when you lift weights, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. The muscle then repairs these tears with a few extra fibres to make it stronger. Then you tear them again with a weight lifting session and this growing repair process continues. In order to gain muscle, you need to allow your muscles adequate time to go through this repairing process. Otherwise, you’re just tearing them down over and over. The general rule is that you rest the worked muscle groups 48 hours between sessions. Although, don’t be surprised if sometimes it feels like you need a little longer.
5. You’re not doing it!
My friends, everyone, everywhere, needs to be doing some form of weight or resistance training. Plain and simple. Call me stubborn (it’s okay, I am) but this is something I truly believe in. Modern life doesn’t allow for a whole lot of muscle building or retention through our regular daily activities (unless you’re, say, a warehouse worker). It’s important to take time every week to grow some muscles and keep challenging them!
Aside from things like improving your metabolism and aesthetic, being strong is important to your every day function. Carrying groceries home, lifting your kids, doing laundry, walking up and down stairs. Even if you consider yourself an already fit person, you will not believe how much easier these things become with a little extra muscle on your frame. Okay, okay, and the metabolism and aesthetic thing ain’t all that bad either ;)