Too many resistance-training injuries occur because of bad lifting technique.
Today I’ll explain some of the basic things we should do before any resistance training. We’ll look at our lower bodies next week. Some of these tasks may seem mundane, but there are people working out, as you read this, who are seconds away from injury.
Plan For and Visualize Success
Know what you’re going to do before going to the gym. What area are you going to work? What exercises will you do to work those areas? Will you use machines? Which ones? How about free weights?
I’m big on the mental approach to training. When you know what you’re going to do, it’s time to “see” yourself doing it. Before you start lifting, while driving to the gym or getting ready to go to the garage gym, start visualizing every exercise.
“See” yourself doing every lift with the proper form. “See” the muscles working. “See” yourself having an incredible workout.
You should wear gear that is comfortable, allows a full range of motion and doesn’t get in the way. I’ve seen guys in jeans and jean shorts injure their backs doing squats because the denim was too restrictive, making them overcompensate.
Too often, lifters tug on shirts or shorts because the clothing is too tight. They pull up tank top straps or sweat pants because they’re too loose.
Make sure a supportive pair of shoes covers your feet. Flip-flops provide no ankle support. And there is danger of slipping with flip-flops because of sweat from the bottom of the feet.
A final thought on clothing: Wear something that doesn’t make you self-conscious.
Know Your Muscles
Don’t pick up a weight without understanding why. We should have a good knowledge of the moves we’re making with the weights and why we’re making them. Understand what muscle groups are being worked and think about those muscle groups while performing the movement.
Pick up “Strength Training Anatomy” by Frederic Delavier. It’s an awesome book that shows primary and secondary muscle groups for 111 exercises.
Solid resistance training results come from chronic and smart lifting. Don’t jump into 85 minutes of intense resistance training if you haven’t trained in months or years. Start with low weights and slow, controlled movements, allowing your muscles to become acclimated to the new stress.
Complete every rep with a full range of motion. Doing so not only better strengthens the muscle, it also helps with muscle flexibility.
Breathing is an important part of every lift. A good rule is to breathe out slowly and with control when exerting energy. For instance: Breathe out during the upward phase of a biceps curl. Breathe in while letting the weight return to the starting position.
Milo F. Bryant’s fitness column appears in the Colorado Springs Gazette, where he also writes sports columns. Bryant has two National Strength and Conditioning Association certifications.