Working out with free weights is not an extremely dangerous kind of exercise, but it’s not exactly the safest one around, either. Some fitness beginners can get injured using dumbbells, barbells or other weights if they are not careful. Follow these simple basic guidelines, and you’ll have a better chance of “getting pumped” with free weights without a corresponding injury.
1. Low-Weight Reps Rather than High Weight Loads
One of the simplest and best ways to avoid injury with weights is to start out with very low weight repetitions, then gradually increase weight to a reasonable, modest level. Starting out with too much weight, or overloading with free weights, is a common way that lots of people get injured. In addition to a more injury-free workout, low-weight repetitions also give you a better overall muscle tone. If you have a choice between fewer repetitions with a higher weight, and more repetitions with a lower weight, the latter will be just as effective in burning fat and calories, and it will give you evenly toned muscles instead of bulging biceps. Unless you’re a bodybuilder, stick with a small amount of weight and do longer sets.
2. Use Smooth, Slow Movements
Another major way to avoid injury with weights is to always use smooth, controlled movements, rather than impulsive, jerky ones. It may be tempting to throw your weights around wildly when your favorite party song comes on during a workout, but using weight exercises to express your emotions is a prime way to get a muscle injury. Stay calm and controlled, and use appropriate slow motions to raise and lower weights.
3. Avoid Overextending
This is also a very important way to avoid injury. Any time that you put your body out of balance with weights, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to injury. That means you need to think about how your limbs and core muscles feel when extending weights laterally, over your head or in any other direction. Don’t get caught off balance. Instead, pursue a balanced range of motion that will work your muscles through different contractions and extensions without over-stretching any one part of your body.
4. Use Spotters for Heavy Weights
If you’re the bench pressing type, it’s important to have other people called spotters standing by to help out if your muscles fail. It’s normal for your arms or legs to stop lifting the same load well after multiple repetitions. Basically, they just get tired, and if there’s a lot of weight involved, this can be dangerous.
5. Follow Instructions
Some companies have come up with novel ways to get more exercise out of less space and less equipment. Others produce machines or equipment that will work your body in specific ways to get good muscle tone for the abs, legs, etc. The key here is to thoroughly read and follow all of the instructions on the fitness equipment. Otherwise, you could be heading for a sports injury that will hamper your overall development for a while.
Keep all of the above in mind when starting out with a free weight training regimen.