Many people join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment and begin strength training without knowing how to properly lift weights. Remember the cliché: “what you don’t know can hurt you”. The experienced weight lifter may be able to execute movements that may very well be dangerous for a beginner, therefore it is better to exercise a lot of caution if you are beginning strength training.
Below are some of the common mistakes people make when strength training:
Choosing the wrong weight
Using weight that is too heavy, especially in the beginning, can damage muscles and tendons and cause painful injury. If you have to strain to lift the weight then it is too heavy and you may find yourself gaining muscle and weight. For women this could be a deterrent to weight training. Weight that is too light may not give you the workout that you need and may only waste your time.
Doing the wrong number of repetitions and/or sets
If your goal is to lose weight, you should be able to do 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps comfortably. To gain muscle – and weight – you should use a heavier weight that will allow you to do up to 8 reps at most for 3 or 4 sets. If your goal is to build endurance you would use a lighter weight and increase the number of reps and sets.
Using incorrect form
Some people have a tendency to curve the back when bending over to lift a weight. This can injure your back. A better way would be to keep your back straight or bend the knees. Jerky, bouncing movements are another improper form that can place sudden stress on muscles and tendons, and cause injury. If you are bouncing, the weight is most likely too heavy. Locking the joints, especially knees and elbows, is another common mistake that can lead to injury. Also, some people tend to drop the weight instead of lowering it slowly. This does not allow the muscle to move through the entire range.
Doing too much too soon
You are anxious to get stronger, but in order to achieve the most from any form of exercise, muscles need to rest in order to be ready for the next round of exercise. This applies between sets, as well as to between workouts. If you are lifting light weights for endurance, you should rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets, if you are lifting heavy weights for muscle building you may need to rest up to 5 minutes. And take a day off between workouts.
As always, remember that these all vary greatly for each individual. Please consult a professional for advice specific to your needs.