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Weighing the Issue

Learning to lift weights properly.

The number of people joining the gym and doing weight training has increased greatly over the years, but so has the number of injuries. This increase is in large part due to improper technique. Walk into just about any gym and you can observe those who overload plates on the barbell and then proceed to try and bench press the weight. They either don’t execute the full range of motion or they proceed to bounce the weight off their chest while holding their breath and arching their back, demonstrating bad technique. Improper form could lead to injury in the gym and, at the very least, limit the benefit of the exercise.

Bad form and improper exercise technique usually occur because the person is new to weight training and hasn’t been taught the proper form for lifting the weights correctly. They have either elected to forgo the free consultation that comes with their membership, don’t know the free consultation exists or they just plain think they know what they’re doing and proceed to start weight training with no prior experience.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case. Most gym memberships today come with a free consultation in which an experienced instructor will demonstrate correct technique to every new gym member. However, most people never use their free consultation and thus proceed to workout incorrectly, whether it be with machines or free weights. Remember this will minimize your results and could lead to injury, so take advantage of your free consultation.

Also, most gyms today have personal trainers available. If you’re not in a position to hire a personal trainer but feel you need more than the one time free consultation, try hiring a trainer for just one or a few sessions just to learn proper technique and form.

A few things to remember when exercising: Start with lighter weights, which will allow you to work on correct technique. Use correct body alignment and posture to target a specific muscle group while decreasing the amount of stress on muscles and joints. Finally, breath correctly – many beginners hold their breath when weight training, this increases the bodies blood pressure and puts tremendous strain on the heart and arteries; it can also lead to the valsalva phenomenon, which increases pressure within the chest cavity and prevents blood from returning to the heart, leading to blackouts, headaches and dizziness.

Proper technique when weight training will ultimately increase the benefits of your training sessions while greatly decreasing your chance of injury.

Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms, located throughout the New Orleans area. Please e-mail your health and fitness questions to health@renpubllc.com.

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