We’ve all seen it while working out at the gym: some guy swinging a barbell or dumbbell loaded with weights way heavier than he should be lifting, in order to get it to the top of each repetition. Not only is he endangering himself, but others around him. When it comes to weightlifting, it isn’t how much you can lift, but the form you use to lift.
A good way to tell if you are lifting about the right amount of weight is if you can do 8 to 10 reps all in the correct form. If not, then you should drop down to a lesser amount of weight. Here are six tips to maintaining correct form:
Concentrate on yourself
Working out in a gym is not a contest to see who can lift the most weight. It should be you against yourself. In other words, keep your personal best record in mind and work toward a goal of improving on it.
Range of motion
To get the maximum benefit from a muscle building exercise, go through the full range of motion. If you are doing bicep curls, that means going from a fully extended arm to a fully contracted arm in a steady fluid motion – no jerking.
Weightlifting exercises should be done slowly and steadily. There are two parts to most exercises – lifting the weight up and lowering it back down. Both are very valuable when it comes to fully working a muscle. If you don’t take as much time letting it back down and you did pushing it up, you are doing it wrong and missing out on half of the benefit of lifting.
Focus on contracting the muscle at the top of the lift. By isolating the muscle, you are ensuring they are doing 100% of the work. Also focused contraction stimulates more blood flow to the muscle making it draw in more oxygen and excrete more waste.
Get a second opinion
Sometimes we think we are using good form while lifting, but from time to time, enlist the help of an experienced friend, fellow lifter or personal trainer. Having a different set of eyes view how you lift can point out some form inequities that may have developed over time.
Adjust your diet
To build muscle, not only is it important what you eat, but also when. If you are not eating enough carbohydrates and protein at the right times, your body is not going to effectively build muscle.
When bodybuilding, carbs and protein are key to building muscle. Most people need 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight to gain muscle mass. Be sure to eat after working out whether that is one of your high protein meals or just a protein shake. Post-workout is when your body really needs the nutrients to repair and grow muscle.