We all know by now that strength training is good, right? It’s great for boosting metabolism, maintaining a strong core and increasing bone density, amongst many other reasons.
We do, however, get some people coming through our door who started with all the right intentions but ended up doing more harm than good though lifting weights. Here’s our short guide to what to avoid the next time you hit the gym to make sure you’re getting the best from your workout.
1. Not paying attention to form
I know the mirrors in gyms can be a massive distraction (who wants to see themselves a sweaty, grunting mess, right?) but the reason they are there goes beyond vanity. Use the mirrors to check your technique, making sure your spine is neutral with no over-arching or bending as you lift.
2. Not engaging the core
Particularly important if you’re doing free weights, you need to activate and engage your core muscles as you lift to protect your spine and avoid back pain.
3. Ignoring pain
It’s easy to ignore niggles when you’re warmed up and in the zone (I know this from experience) or to take painkillers if you have an injury and ‘train through it’ but pain is a warning sign that we mustn’t ever ignore. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something’s up, so listen, take a rest and come back stronger when you’re fully recovered.
4. Only training the fun bits
It’s so common – especially as summer approaches – to only want to train the parts of your body which are on show, or which respond best to training. An imbalance of strength can lead to poor posture and leave you vulnerable to injury. Train your body as a whole unit, making time to include every muscle group (especially the core which is often forgotten) and you’ll reap the rewards with a strong, balanced body.
5. Going too heavy
If you go too heavy without the strength to handle it, your form will suffer. Choose a weight which challenges you, but one at which you can also maintain a full range of movement without using momentum to follow it through.