By now you know the importance of strength training. It is a must when it comes to staying healthy and strong. Lifting weights adds muscle to your body, which will, undeniably, help rev your metabolism and keep you fit. In addition, however, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists other benefits of regular strength training, such as fewer symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, and osteoporosis, as well as less chance of obesity, back pain, and depression.
So, of course, you’re doing it, or at least you want to start! But here’s a crucial thing to remember: you need to do it correctly. The proper strength training technique is essential if you truly want to see all the benefits. For example, 10 slow, controlled dumbbell bicep curls are more effective than 50 done with your arms swinging back and forth. Let’s take a look at the most common weight lifting mistakes seen by trainers everywhere and discover the simple corrections you can make for strength training that helps you see results and stay pain-free.
Droopy Head During Push-Ups
What’s the Problem? When performing a push-up, the back sags and/or the head lowers forward. Dropping the head puts pressure on the cervical spine and makes you think you are lowering farther than you are.
What’s the Solution? Whether you do push-ups on your knees or your toes, keep abs, glutes, and thighs very tight, and keep your eyes gazing at the floor in front of your fingertips. Elbows should shoot back at a diagonal. You’ll be amazed at how many more push-ups you’re able to do.
What’s the Problem? A weak core during lunges puts extra weight on the knees. A weak core during squats puts pressure on the low back. A weak core during pull-ups means you won’t be able to pull up…so you can see why you want to avoid it! The majority of injuries in a gym can be traced back to having a weak core. When your core is not engaged, the pressure of the weight goes to your knees, hips or shoulders, depending on what you are doing. This leads to injury and also inhibits you from seeing the kind of results you want.
What’s the Solution? In every exercise (from lunges and squats to bench presses and push-ups) it is vital to keep your core engaged. Pretend you just put on a tight pair of jeans and had to pull the belly in so you could get them zipped. That’s the kind of core engagement you need.
What’s the problem? During lunges the legs are too close together, the knee extends over the top of the foot or the back leg stays straight rather than bending at the knee. This puts pressure on the kneecap and leads to injuries. It also prevents a full range of motion and therefore your glutes don’t engage.
What’s the solution? Proper lunges are crucial! When lowering into a lunge, your front knee should end up directly over your front ankle. As you lower down, the back knee should bend and get close to the ground. When you push back to starting position, put most of the weight on the front heel.
Improper Spinal Alignment
What’s the Problem? Bending over or leaning into your toes during squats and lunges. This puts pressure on your knees and spine and prevents activation of the glutes.
What’s the Solution? Keep eyes straight ahead, abs engaged, shoulders over hips and weight in your heels as you perform squats or lunges.
What’s the Problem? When performing any overhead press or upper body work—even push-ups—the shoulders raise and scrunch up toward the neck. This creates tightness and pinched nerves in the neck and shoulders which can lead to tension headaches and poor posture. In addition, you are losing crucial strength in the proper part of the upper back and lats where you want it.
What’s the Solution? During any and all strength training, keep your shoulder blades pulled down and back. Imagine sliding your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
Remember that the best thing you can do to ensure proper form and awesome results is to get some help. Hiring a trainer for a few sessions can be the best money you spend all year. If that isn’t possible for you, finding a group strength training class in a gym or online is another great way to get cues on proper form and tips for success. If you’re going to make time to strength train, don’t waste a second. Make the time you spend count by doing everything with proper form.