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The Rules of Safe Lifting | What to Keep in Mind

Oct 23, 2018

Remember the rules of safe lifting to prevent discomfort, pain, and injuries at the gym.

Injuries are a bodybuilder’s worst nightmare.

They can cause you to miss quite a few days at the gym.

Or at the very least, lessen your ability to perform certain exercises.

All of these things negatively affect your bodybuilding program.

Plus once injuries happen, it is very easy to get re-injured again in the same area.

While the tips below may seem like basic common sense, even the most advanced weightlifters can forget one or two of these rules.

That’s when trouble happens.

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: ASK FOR HELP

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Man pressing with spotterIf you don’t know how to do an exercise or use a certain piece of equipment, ask a trainer or someone experienced for help.

Rules of Safe Lifting: MAKE SURE ALL PLATES ARE PROPERLY SECURED

Be extremely careful with weights and use collars to secure them, especially when using an Olympic bar.

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Weightlifting bar and platesOften times a person lifts the bar and the weights on one side slides or fall offs.

The sudden imbalance causes the weightlifter to drop the other end.

This can hurt you as well as others around you.

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: WARM-UP BEFORE GOING HEAVY

Warming up with light weights first is very important.

If you’re planning to do more than one set of an exercise, start by performing eight to ten repetitions with a light weight.

A warm-up set is a way of reminding your muscles to hit their marks.

If you decide you don’t need to warm up and head straight for the heavy weights, you risk hurting yourself.

When weights are too heavy for you, you can:

  • Lose control of the weight
  • Drop the weight on yourself or on someone else
  • Strain hard to lift and end up tearing a muscle
  • Become so sore that you can’t lift your feet up high enough to climb stairs

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Man dropping bar on one sideOne or more of these mistakes can mess up your workout because you may need to take time off to recover.

Be smart and ask a trainer at the gym to help you find your starting weight for your repetitions.

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: PRACTICE PERFECT FORM

Use a weight that you can control.

If your body can’t handle all the weight you are trying to lift your joints and bones will take most of the stress; not the muscles.

In addition, your form will probably be sacrificed.

It’s important that you understand that form is everything in weightlifting.

Before you start building muscle, you need to make sure you have the right form and balance.

Don’t think about adding more weight if you don’t have the proper form.

When you start using heavy poundage, bad form ultimately leads to injuries to muscles and joints.

Don’t get discouraged–form adjustment is something all weightlifters must do.

If you start with bad form, you just keep on repeating it, until you find out when it’s too late that you’ve been doing it wrong.

Old habits are hard to break!

Related: How to Deadlift Correctly: The Justification of Form

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: USE THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Dark Iron Fitness Knee SleevesIf you want comfort, durability, and support at a competitive price, check out Dark Iron Fitness’ Weightlifting Knee Sleeves for CrossFit, powerlifting and weight training.

Our knee sleeves have almost a 5-star rating.

The knees sleeves use breathable cotton spandex with strong stitching for long-lasting wear.

Side stabilizers, patella holder, and adjustable straps make it easy to tighten the knee sleeves for more bracing support and strength.

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Dark Iron Fitness Dip BeltYou will have enough support to lift over 600 pounds comfortably.

Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weightlifting Dip Belt–one of the highest rated dip belts out today, our dip belt is built to last.

It’s made from real leather and has pillow-like padding that won’t dig into your sides or hips.

The long weight strap will hold over 270 lbs, which means you can load over 6 Olympic weight plates quickly and easily.

Related:  Accessories to Help Perfect Your Squats

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: LIFT AT A SAFE SPEED

For best results, bodybuilders should perform the exercises in a controlled manner and with no momentum.

When you jerk and bounce weights it will only take away stress from the muscle.

The sudden motion creates sheer (pushing and pulling) forces in the joints and muscles that can cause pain and injury.

If you’re not sure use a tempo of 2 seconds when lifting the weight and 3 seconds when lowering it.

The lowering (negative) portion should be done slightly slower than the lifting (positive) one.

You might have to count in your head at first but eventually lifting speed becomes natural.

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Ideally, gyms should not position certain pieces of equipment so close together but they do, so be aware of your surroundings.

This applies whether you are the one performing an exercise on a certain machine or the one loading the bar.

Look at the floor that you will be standing on.

It can be slippery from a leak due to water dripping from the air conditioning or just a bad ceiling.

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: STOP IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL

If you are having a hard time breathing, sit down and rest for about three minutes.

If you break out into a cold sweat then you need to stop, your body might be going into shock.

This can happen in very hot environments when your heart is pumping hard and you are overdoing it.

 

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Cartoon of main straining with weightsBreathing is often the most overlooked and least understood element of weight training.

If you’re a competitive lifter, you probably already know that the way you breathe can either make or break you.

Not breathing properly can make you tire more quickly, cause dizziness and increase your blood pressure.

These factors can all lead to fainting.

Try to do some deep breathing exercises before starting your workout.

Deep breathing relaxes you and makes you more conscious of your breathing.

Start letting your breath out as soon as you pick up the weight.

For example, if you are doing a bench press fully exhale through your nose or mouth as you are pushing the barbell away from your chest.

Breathe in through your nose in a controlled manner as you lower the weight.

Lowering weight requires less exertion, which is when you inhale.

It’s best not to use the Valsalva maneuver during lifting.

The Valsalva maneuver has you holding your breath during lifting.

Professional powerlifters often do this but there is the risk of increasing your high blood pressure, which can lead to fainting or a heart attack.

Related: How to Breathe Correctly When Lifting Weights

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: COOLING DOWN

The Rules of Safe Lifting - Athlete being stretched outWe need to do a cool down to promote recovery and return the body to a pre-exercise, or pre-workout level.

During a strenuous workout, your body goes through a lot of stress.

Muscle fibers, tendons, and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body.

When a cooldown is performed properly, it will help your body during the repair process.

The cooldown does all this by keeping the blood circulating, which helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles.

This circulating blood brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments for repair.

 There are three parts to an effective and complete cooldown. They are:

  1. Gentle exercise
  2. Stretching
  3. Re-fueling

All three parts are equally important and they all work together to repair and replenish the body after exercise.

Related: The Cool Down – Recover Faster & Avoid Injury!

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: RESTING YOUR MUSCLES

Weights can be lifted on consecutive days — just don’t exercise the same muscle two days in a row.

Forty-eight hours is usually the ideal waiting time before exercising the same muscle group again.

Don’t forget that lifting weights places stress on the muscle.

Forcing our body to adapt to the new stress is what makes our muscles grow stronger.

Related: Add Pilates to Your Weightlifting Program

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: WEIGHT TRAINING DON’TS

Avoid these common mistakes when weight training:

  • Don’t skip the warmup. Cold muscles are more likely to be injured than warm muscles. Before lifting, warm up with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic activity.
  • Don’t rush. Lift and lower weights in an unhurried, controlled fashion. Going slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work. It also stops you from relying on momentum to lift the weight. Rest for about one minute between each exercise.
  • Don’t jerk or bounce the weight around.
  • Don’t overdo it. For most people, completing one set of exercises and working to the point of fatigue is enough. Any more sets can lead to overload injury. Of course, the number of sets that you decide to do will depend on your fitness goals.
  • Don’t ignore pain. If a particular exercise or movement causes pain, stop. Try the exercise again in a few days or try it with less weight.
  • Don’t forget your shoes. Shoes that protect your feet and provide good support and traction will keep you from slipping or injuring your feet when lifting.

Related: Weight training: Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Technique

 

Rules of Safe Lifting: Final Thoughts

Follow a beginner’s weight-lifting routine consistently for two to three months before moving on to more challenging exercises.

Be patient, you’ll eventually start to pile on weight plates; but for now, think form and balance.

Research studies have found that lifting weights is one of the safest activities out there.

The key is to be safe and use common sense.

Remember, the more you concentrate on proper weight training technique, the more you’ll get out of your weight training program!

 

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