Lifting Safety: Tips to Stay in the Game

The world of weightlifting is an exciting one. In this world, the illustrious nature of a beefy new max often sits paramount to all else. Sometimes, this goal overrules all other aspects of weightlifting, including safety. While seasoned weightlifters will have safety embedded into their training routines, not everyone can say the same. Here, we jump into some safety tips for lifting to help keep you in the game.

Be smart

Very much a blanket statement, but a great rule of thumb. We will touch on all of these below, but some important general rules are: increase your weight slowly, focus on balance both while training and while creating your training plan, use spotters whenever you can, and give your body rest.

If something does not seem like it will go well, then don’t try it. Or, adjust the scenario to a point where it will work out better. If you are just starting your fitness program back up from a layoff or injury, don’t expect or even try to return to the point where you were before. Ease your body back into your regimen.

If you see someone performing an advance, technically complicated lift, do not think ‘just because they can do it I’m sure I can’. Be sure to take the time to understand the nuances of the move, such as where you need to bend and what muscles you should be using. Practice the move with a very light weight, just a bar or even something like a broomstick, until you have it down. Be sure to master the form before increasing the weight.

That should be a blanket rule you follow as well, form is more important than how much you are lifting. Maintaining good form will reduce the amount of stress you put on your body, helping to keep you safe and injury free. It will also spur the most muscle growth by targeting the correct muscles. Over time, this will lead to growths in strength, and an injury free body.

Steady, controlled increases in resistance

When piling weight on the bar, keep tip #1 in mind. To help quantify that, don’t increase your weight by more than 10% of your current max. Banging out a few sets of lower weight with ease may provide a hormone-induced sense of confidence, but keep a cool head when adding weight. Trying to bust out a new max that’s 20% or more of your current 1RM is very likely to lead to a breakdown in your form, inviting injury. Steady, controlled increases will ensure steady growth in both strength and weight lifted, while keeping injuries at bay.

Maintain Balance

Balance is needed in so many ways when lifting. Let’s investigate some.

During the lift

Be sure to place your hands evenly on the bar (if using one) so that the weight will be distributed evenly. Offsetting your placement will lead to increased stress to one side of your body, which if you are not used to it, could lead to some problems.

During squats, make sure that you are keeping your legs square to each other and not pushing up with one leg more. You will be able to tell if you are if you feel the bar slant to one side, as that is the leg that is dominating. You can easily see this if you are facing a mirror. If you continue to have issues with one leg doing more work than the other, you can tell that your lower body balance needs some increased emphasis.

When loading/removing weights

Be sure to bend with your knees when putting dumbbells or plates back into their spots. Nothing takes away from hitting a new max (10% more than your previous one, remember!) like throwing your back out putting away the weight. Be square, engage your whole body on the way down while holding the weight and avoid jerking or swinging it into place.

Developing your fitness plan

It’s important to train all the muscles in your body to keep yourself balanced. This will help you with your overall strength and help to prevent injury from the stress caused by overusing larger muscle groups during lifts.

Be sure to incorporate stretches to work on flexibility of the rotator cuff, hips, hamstrings, knees, and ankles. Core strength is important in fitness and in everyday life, so be sure to spend time working your core as well.

Use spotters

This definitely falls under the ‘be smart’ topic, but also warrants some further discussion. If there is one way to help ensure safety during your workouts, it’s having someone else there to watch your back. A spotter can also watch your form for you, to make sure you are getting the most out of the lift. Then there is always the motivation that a spotter can provide.  “You got this, man!”

If no one is available, try to use equipment with a self spotting feature, to make sure you are covered. Avoid maxing out sans-spotter.

BodyCraft Jones Self Spotter Always use a spotter when available.

Some other, general weight lifting tips

  • Use weight collindars to lock weight in place on a barbell
  • Always have a slight bend in your knees when standing, especially when loading weight onto a bar/machine or performing any type of standing lift.
  • Breathing is important! Exhale while you are actually lifting (pushing, pulling, etc) the weight, and inhale when you are returning to the starting position.
  • Form, form, form form, form. Form.
  • It is always a good idea to warm up appropriately, with both dynamic (high knees, jogging, arm circles), and static (stretching) activities.

Perhaps the most difficult lifting safety tip to follow is that sometimes, you can’t lift. At least not the same muscle group everyday. Overtraining your muscles increases your chance of injury, as well as reduces their growth potential from your workouts. Research suggests that 48 hours is the optimal recovery time for a muscle group before targeting it again. If you can’t wait that long, at least give it a day in between.

Are there any safety tips that you have found to be beneficial? Anything else we can cover? If so, give us a shout out in the comments below.

Happy (safe) lifting!

Posted by Vince
‘You always have one more in you. Especially with a spotter’

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