How To Lift Weights
So you are ready to hit the gym to bulk up, get shredded, increase performance, or make your doctor’s disapproving stare after your last lipid panel into a smile at your next annual physical, but you need a bit of a refresher on how to lift weights. Like the proverbial bowl of Wheaties, weightlifting might be a part of your complete diet and exercise program. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports says, “For many years, strength training was primarily used by adult athletes to enhance sports performance and increase muscle size. However, strength training is now recognized as an important method of enhancing health and fitness for people of all ages and abilities.” Weightlifting can increase your health and strength, but without learning how to lift weights properly, weightlifting can also lead to injury.
To lift weights you will need a gym membership or equipment that includes:
- Dumbbells – start with 5 to 50 lbs.
- Barbell, preferably the Olympic style
- Weight plates – 2.5 to 45 lbs. per plate
- A bench
- A squat rack
- A pull-up bar or lat machine
With these items, you will be able to perform all of the fundamental exercises in a weightlifting routine.
- See your doctor Before learning how to lift weights, every reputable gym, trainer, weightlifting book or Website will encourage you to see your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise. Your current level of fitness may shape the way you go about developing a program, and it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions as you increase your level of activity.
- Warm up before exertion Muscles can tear if they are cold or stiff when engaging in activities that stress your body. If someone tells you, “Cavemen never warmed up prior to exercise,” let them know that Cavemen also didn’t have the Olympics, the Internet, day jobs, sports medicine, knee surgery or science. A lot has changed since Grok learned to fling rocks at birds, and you are not a caveman. The American Council on Exercise recommends a 5 to 10 minute warm up before exertion.
- Use proper form and technique Students at MIT taking Professor Halston Taylor’s Weight Training course learn proper form and reinforce the lessons by reading articles in anatomy and kinesiology when studying how to lift weights. Weightlifters learn to move their knees in line with their toes and to press their shoulders up before their butt on squats. When benching students learn to use a medium-wide grip and to use weight they can lift for 5-6 reps. While learning how to lift weights using machines, Taylor reiterates the use of proper form. Just because a machine is set to move in a specific path does not mean a weightlifter cannot hurt himself.
- Use a full range of movement The Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University encourages weightlifters to use a full range of motion when lifting weights. Dr. J. Andrew Doyle, Associate Professor at Georgia State, recommends moving with control through the range of motion, breathing, and resting between sets.
- Learn the exercises Full routines balance upper and lower body exercises.
- Lift weights for one hour or less each session You don’t have to kill yourself with marathon sessions at the gym. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends to lift for one hour or less a minimum of two times per week. Longer weightlifting workouts can have diminishing returns.
- Cool down You warmed up, right? Cool down too. It’s the right thing to do.
- Eat something You’ve burned a lot of energy and broken down muscle from your hour of lifting. Put something back in to help your muscles grow. Nancy Clark, writing for the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Journal, encourages those lifting to gain muscle and weight to eat extras, “such as a hefty peanut butter sandwich with a large glass of milk” to add calories for muscle gain along with resistance workouts. Who can argue with that?
http://www.acefitness.org/fitnessqanda/fitnessqanda_display.aspx?itemid=262 warm up (section 2)
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Athletics--Physical-Education-and-Recreation/PE-720Spring-2006/CourseHome/index.htm course home for section 3 citations
http://www.purdue.edu/swo/healthshop/nutrition/HealthyWeightGain/BulkingUpHelpingClientsGainWeightHealthfully.pdf nutrition for weight gain section 7