By: SWEAT Trainer Alex LaPointe
Who doesn't like to lift up heavy things only to put them back down? Just about everyone to be honest with you! If you're looking to take your workouts to the next level, break through plateaus, or just to feel like a badass then grabbing something heavy may be in your future!
If you knew that a certain exercise could benefit your heart, strengthen your bones, improve your balance and help you lose weight wouldn't you want to start it tomorrow? Strength training is not just for bodybuilders, it can benefit all ages and may be important for people with heart issues. Lifting heavy helps speed up the process of weight loss and helps with keeping it off for good. A recent study revealed that women who followed a weight training routine 3 times a week increased the amount of calories burned in normal daily activity (in addition to those burned during exercise), helping them to maintain their current weight.
Did you know that after puberty (in males and females) every year you lose about 1% of your bone and muscle strength? Strength training is one way to stop, prevent and even reverse the loss of strength in your muscles and bones!
Picking Out the Weight
Ever heard of the Rack of Shame? You know that moment at the gym where you picked out a weight you thought you could lift and after a couple of failed attempts at getting your rep you have to walk back to the weight rack with your head down only to grab something lighter? That's happened to me several times! Always start with lighter weights and work your way up until you find that "sticky" weight. By "sticky" I mean, challenging you to maintain your form and really put focus into getting more that 3-5 reps per set. As long as you can maintain your form throughout your reps you are good to go. As every trainer will remind you, always remember to engage your core throughout your training to make even the most isolated exercises full body movements.
Whether you are lifting your first deadlift or competing in a fitness competition, as soon as you grab that barbell it goes back to square one. Remember before when I mentioned starting light? If you are new to lifting starting light is going to be your best friend until you start learning your way around the weight. Proper form starts from the minute you take your weights off of the rack. Use your legs to lift EVERYTHING from the ground, not your back. Everyday I witness clients using the bend and snap technique to retrieve their weights from the bottom shelf which can be dangerous and cause for serious injury. I get it, you are tired and the last thing you want to do is think about form technique on a movement that isn't even on the screen. I can assure you practicing this now will help you in preventing injuries in everyday life, not to mention how embarrassing it would be to go from squatting your 1 rep max looking strong AF and on your way back to re-rack your dumbbells you tweak your lower back and have to wobble out of the studio like a penguin? (insert "I told you so").
Don't Forget to Breathe
Every single rep you do deserves a breath. As you are exerting energy that is your cue to exhale. For example: As you begin your squat and you're on the way down you breathe in, as you begin to stand back up that is when you exhale. If that sequence makes sense to you then you will be able to correctly add that into all of your lifts. Always feel free to pull a trainer aside and have him or her explain how the breath should flow in whatever movement you're doing.
Engage That Core
Think about your core as the sturdy center link in a chain. Whether you're hitting a tennis ball or mopping a floor, the movement is either going to originate at your core or travel through it. Having a strong core has benefits attached to it a mile long that would drag this blog out forever so i'm going to just tell you how to engage it to save us some time. Have you ever braced yourself when you were expecting a blow to the stomach? If you answered yes you are a natural! For those of you who didn't grow up with siblings let me teach you. Suck in a little bit of air and pull your bellybutton in upwards towards your spine and towards your rib cage, and then slightly bear down, like you are trying to aim your navel at the floor. You should feel your abdominal region tighten.
Ask yourself, how long have you been using those 10lb dumbbells for? 3 weeks? 3 months? Are you at a plateau with your weight loss or weight gain? It might be time to suck it up and go for that heavier weight! Just remember, start light and make sure your gym crush isn't looking.