Outlined here is what I believe to be important and often overlooked aspects of weight training.
Breathing: Breathing is very important when performing lifts especially for the beginner and when lifting heavy weights. It fills you with oxygen at the right moment and helps you to complete the exercise using proper form.
The general “rule” to follow when it comes to breathing and weightlifting is to breath in when in the negative phase of the lift , and breath out when extending the most effort in lifting the weight.
This is especially important when performing heavy compound movements such as the squat, breathing out at the right moment when you are attempting to bring the weight “up” again can in fact help you to complete the rep.
Form: Without proper form when performing a certain movement you risk not gaining maximally from the movement or worse causing yourself an injury.
Look under the body part section to find out different exercises for different body parts and how to perform them with correct form.
Time to Train: It is hard to find time do do anything in this fast paced life. The best advise we can offer is to dedicate yourself and motivate yourself into finding time to go to the gym. Organise a daily routine for yourself which involves at least 3 days that you go to the gym.
If you can’t go to the gym or your job involves travelling, do a few push ups and sit ups on the floor or find out if your hotel have a gym.
Missing Training: Don’t panic, it wont kill your routine, if you miss a workout its ok just continue your routine as if nothing had happened and make sure, if you can, not to miss a workout again. In fact I find that when I miss a workout it actually irritates me because I might have wanted to workout and if I miss it for a stupid reason such as being too lazy then I kick myself for not going. You will see yourself how much or how little a missed training session affects you.
Sleep: Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night, lack of sleep can affect your performance in and out of the gym so be sure your head hits the pillow early enough and at approximately the same time each day for maximum benefits. Also what most people don’t realise is that your muscles grow when you are out of the gym, you work the muscle in the gym but its after the gym, combined with adequate nutrition that your body seeks to repair the microscopic damage you inflicted on your muscle and during sleep is the optimum time for this repair.
Dreading Workouts: If you find yourself dreading your workouts then you should think about changing your workout plan so its not so brutal that you hate the prospect of going.
Look at your routine and see where changes could be made so that you start to look forward to the gym.
Stretching: Stretching is very important to prevent injuries and pulled muscles. I would recommend a stretching routine of 5-10 minutes before and after a workout.
Especially before a leg or chest workout targeted stretching on that area will limber it up and prevent injuries that could be easily prevented.
Body Types: Different people have different body types. Some people find it easy to gain muscle and some people find it extremely hard.
The main body types are
Ectomorph : The Ectomorph individual has a skinny frame with long muscle bodies. The ectomorph has little body fat and little body muscle and finds it hard to gain weight.
Endomorph : The Endomorph individual has a high percentage of body fat and finds it easy to gain weight but hard to lose it. Their body is typically soft.
Mesomorph : The Mesomorph individual has a large muscular body and finds it easy to lose fat and gain muscle.
Most people are a combination of the different types rather than just one body type. Try to figure out which type you are.
Equipment: Primary Equipment includes trainers, shorts and a t shirt.
Other equipment to consider when weightlifting would be; weightlifting gloves, wrist straps, weightlifting belt and a sweat band.
Aim to wear the equipment that you feel most comfortable in and if you are lifting heavy weights consider using additional equipment in order to prevent injury or strain.
NOTE: Do not rely on additional equipment such as a belt for every single exercise as this will stop your lower back from developing properly and as a result will be a weak point in your body, only use it on the most heaviest of sets where you feel precaution is needed.
Spotting: A spotter comes in extremely useful sometimes. Wherever you need help positioning a bar or dumbbells or help with that last rep or two a spotter is necessary.
Also a trusted spotter is there to keep an eye out in case you drop the weight on yourself and to assist you remove the weight when you cannot perform another rep.
Consider using a spotter with the following exercises; bench press, squat and shoulder dumbbell press.
Training Partner: A training partner has several benefits. First of all a training partner provides motivation when you just don’t feel like going to the gym, you would feel bad letting your partner down. A training partner also fills the position of spotter for you on certain exercises and vice versa. A training partner might also have weightlifting and nutrition knowledge that you don’t and you could learn a lot from a knowledgeable partner.
Injuries: Most weightlifting related injuries are easily avoidable. The causes of injuries are lifting heavier than your body can handle therefore pulling something or straining a muscle.
Not warming up and stretching adequately before performing exercises, a simple 15-20 minute warm-up and stretching program before you start your workout can prevent unnecessary injuries.
Not performing exercises with correct form. Incorrect form will have a negative affect on your body and consistent bad form will eventually cause an injury.
Learn to perform each exercise correctly, click here to view body parts and the proper way to perform the exercises associated with them.
Training Diary: A training diary is a must for anyone looking to lose fat or build muscle. In it you record the miniscule details of reps and sets performed with the weight used. In it you monitor the changes week per week and make necessary changes to your training.
This way you can monitor little changes to the weight needed for any particular exercise.
Also a nutrition diary is a must for anyone hoping to change their diary. In it you record the calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat consumed each day and the target amounts for that day.
Resting: Muscle grows outside of the gym, not in it. Your muscles need approximately 4-5 days of recovery before you start your next workout.
Different people require less days of recovery so test this out yourself to determine how much rest you need. A good way of measuring this is to see if that particular muscle is still even slightly sore a few days after a workout. Rest for as long as it takes for the muscle to feel as normal.
This is very useful a way to determine if you are working with the same intensity week after week. If you find that you need less recovery days then you aren’t working the muscle as hard as you should or you just plain need to use a heavier weight.
Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout your workout to replace the fluids lost through sweating.
Locking Joints: Locking your joints is where you are doing an exercise and you fully extend the limb until it can’t straighten anymore, this is potentially dangerous because the stress of the weight is applied to your joint and not the muscle and the joint might be injured in the attempt to hold that weight.
Make sure you maintain a slight bend in your joints when lifting weights.
Originally written for muscleandworkouts.com.