Physical Health

25 Weight Lifting Tips That Make Sense

Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. I like weight training because it tones my muscles, causes my body to burn calories even while I’m sleeping, makes me stronger, improves my posture and my overall health. A complete weight training workout can be performed with just a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a set of weight disks.

Anyway, here are 25 tips picked up from years of weight training. May they be of assistance to you.

  1. Overload the muscles.
  2. You’ve just bench pressed a weight 8 times and you cannot do even one more full rep. Instead of lowering down the barbell and take a breather, lower it halfway. Then raise it back to the full extended position. These partial reps are called burns. It allows you to go beyond what you’d normally do and a normal person can squeeze out at least 2 additional half reps. Bear in mind that burns should be done at the end of the set as it wears out your muscle. It may be half a rep but that extra bit builds a hefty amount of strength.

  3. Build Popeye forearms.
  4. Turn those toothpick looking forearms into arms that are toned and powerful. If your local gym doesn’t have a wrist roller, build one yourself easily. Find a 10 inches long stick and drill a hole in the center. Rope 1 arm’s length worth of rope through the hole and tie the end to the stick. Tie a weight plate to the other end and you’re set. All you need to do is roll the stick till the rope wraps around it and unroll it back to where it started. Doing this exercise 3-4 times, adding weight each time it becomes easier, completes your forearm workout. Benefits other than growing Popeye forearms include a firmer handshake and an advantage in sports involving carrying or hitting a ball.

  5. The time saving pyramid system.
  6. Do this only when you’re pressed for time. In a continuous fashion, you warm up your muscles, exercise them and cool them down. Let’s take the dumbbells at the rack as an example. Pick up the lightest and curl them for 5 times. Pause for 10 seconds. Pick up the next heaviest and curl them for 5 times. Progress until it is too heavy to curl 5 times. Then you work your way down until the lightest dumbbell. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you look a little funny trying to lift the lighter ones.

  7. The eccentric is as important as the concentric.
  8. There are two parts to every exercise: lifting the weight and lowering it. When a muscle shortens during weight lifting it is called concentric, or positive phase of contraction. When it lengthens during lowering, it is called the eccentric, or negative phase. It makes sense to assume that the lifting phase contributes more to muscle building as it is harder but research shows that the lowering phase is as, if not more, important. Concentrate on slower and more controlled lowering movements. Eg: take 2 seconds to lift and 4 seconds to lower.

  9. Calculate your 1 rep max.
  10. Take the weight that you can do 10 complete repetitions with and add 33% to it. If you can do 100 pounds consistently, then your 1 rep max is about 133 pounds.

  11. ALWAYS use perfect form.
  12. Select weights that your body can handle without having to cheat or force the weight up. It also happens often when the exercise becomes difficult towards the end of a set and the temptation to cheat rises. What happens is you shift the effort to other muscles, weaker ones, that weren’t meant to handle the weight. This includes using momentum to swing the weight up or rounding your back. One overstresses the muscles and joints while the latter leads to serious lower back injuries. Successful weight trainings are performed correctly. Let’s take pull ups for example. If your arms are not strong enough and all you can do is 3 reps with proper form, do it 5 times and you get 15. If you can do 4 reps, do it 4 times. 5 reps, 3 times. As you grow stronger, you can do more reps but the difference is you’re doing it right at every single rep.

  13. The importance of a spotter.
  14. They support your weight when can no longer support it yourself. They encourage you and as a result you are able to lift 5% to 8% more weight. They are able to see and assess you when lifting and are therefore qualified to point out what you did wrong and what you can improve on.

  15. Strength training, a habit, a lifestyle.
  16. The closer you move to the half-century mark, the more your focus should shift toward strength training. If you don’t do any resistance exercise, you’ll lose about 10 percent of your muscle mass between ages 25 and 50. Between 50 and 80, you lose another 35 percent. Everyone should be lifting weights by midlife. Include cardiovascular exercises as well. It helps ward off heart disease.

  17. The big 3.
  18. These are the squat, the deadlift and the bench press. Squats are excellent for the butt, hips, thighs and calves. The deadlift is a compound movement that works grip strength, the deep muscle around the spine, the lower back, the thigh and the calf. The bench press strengthens the triceps, both deltoids, pectoralis major and minor, grip strength. Even the rotator cuff and biceps are slightly strengthened as they stabilize the shoulders while bench pressing. All big 3 builds strength, condition and bulk and should always be included in one form or another.

  19. Exercise order.
  20. It is standard practice to set up a resistance-training routine to work large muscle groups before smaller ones. The reason is that a small muscle group that fatigues first will be the weakest link in the chain and prevent large muscle groups from working to full capacity. For example, if you isolate and fatigue your bicep muscles with curls and then do pull ups (which use biceps, shoulders and back), you won’t be able to do as much work for your shoulders and back because your biceps will already be fatigued. Also equally work the muscles in opposing pairs. For example, hamstrings at the back of the thigh are worth as much attention as the quadriceps at the front.

  21. Train 3 times each week.
  22. At least. Only at 3 do you create a muscle-building stimulus. Remember, exercising contributes to only about 25% of muscle building and weight loss. Rest well as muscle building occurs during resting days. Anyway, the rest of the 75% comes from dieting.

  23. Choose only 1 type.
  24. Either train like you’re going for a marathon OR a bodybulding competition. Of course, you can mix cardio and weights. Sure, it makes a great fitness combo but at the extremes, the training physiology and biochemistry are contradictory and you will not maximize your results unless you concentrate on one or the other.

  25. Eat sufficient protein.
  26. Milk is one of the best.

    Even if you train hard, the maximum amount of protein you need for muscle building is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Protein supplements are not necessary if you eat enough lean protein day-to-day. If you decide to use a supplement drink, whey, soy or even skim milk is suitable. Amino acid supplements are not necessary. Pesonally, I’d suggest guzzling some chocolate milk post workout. In a study at James Madison University, soccer players who downed a glass after an intense workout suffered less muscle damage from training than players who had a sports drink. What’s milk’s advantage? Protein. The perfect amount of the nutrient is essential in any post-workout recovery meal. Moreover, milk is cheaper.

  27. Measure body fat consistently.
  28. Don’t be discouraged if your weight does not change much when you train with weights. You may be losing fat and increasing muscle. This is not easy to do at the same time, yet net weight loss or gain is not a good measure of muscle or fat movement.

  29. Set reasonable goals.
  30. Monitor your progress and be patient. Keep track of your BMI and WHR, the latter being more accurate. Objectively monitor muscle mass gains every month. The best bodies are the result of hundreds of hours of effort. Start slowly, stay motivated and be realistic. And if muscle gains are not observed over time, exercise and dietary changes can be made in a timely manner. Remember, the fitness and health you attain become assets that will stay with you for as long as you keep training.

  31. Muscle gain equals effort.
  32. To pack on muscles like a spartan, you have to work out like a spartan. It requires commitment and discipline. Push hard. And don’t let that 1 minute rest in between sets slip to 5 minutes. Most importantly, much much more important than training hard, is to eat well.

  33. Free weights are better.
  34. Free weight training may recruit more muscles than a machine because you have to stabilize your body when you lift a dumbbell, whereas the weight machine supports you. For example, a biceps curl is going to feel more natural and use more muscles in your torso to support the weight than if you did a seated biceps curl in a machine where it does some of the work when you lean against it for leverage. You can also do more types of exercises with free weights than with machines. Lunges, step ups, clean and jerks and Romanian deadlifts are just a few of the many exercises that can be done with free weights. In any gym, there is ONLY 1 machine worthy of your time. That machine is called cables.

  35. Shoes, gloves, waist belt.
  36. It is important to protect your feet and ankles from harm. Since you are lifting very heavy weights during this extreme athletic activity, there is always the chance that you will drop the weight and cause it to land on your foot or ankle. Make sure it has good traction too. Gloves and grips are also important as they make sure the weights are secured in your hands as weights are often slippery with sweat and oils from the hands. ALWAYS wear a belt when you are lifting heavy. Once injured, your back will never be the same again.

  37. Breathe in, breathe out.
  38. Holding your breath causes your blood pressure to spike. This is dangerous as your muscles need a constant supply of oxygenated blood and by denying them that you risk broken blood vessels or even a hernia. Constantly remind yourself to keep breathing.

  39. Focus the muscle, not the motion.
  40. The next time you shout ‘COME ON! 2 MORE!’, make sure it’s for your biceps instead of for more power the next time you perform any workout. You are making the right muscles to do the lifting instead of cheating and shifting the effort to other muscles. Focusing also helps keep you in proper form during each rep.

  41. Weaker first, stronger second.
  42. When performing unilateral exercises, begin with the weaker side first. Then complete only as many repetitions on the stronger side as performed on the weaker side.

  43. Range Of Motion.
  44. During a warm-up set with a light weight, take note of the angle or height the moving body segment or the position of the apparatus at full range. All subsequent workout repetitions should reach this benchmark without accelerating the weight through this harder portion of the exercise. Shrugs, jumps and throws are some of the examples that have a peak tension curve.

  45. Returning from a long hiatus.
  46. Increase the amount and intensity systematically. Start off light during the first workout. Keep it fairly easy. This is to ensure that your muscles aren’t too sore for subsequent workouts. The body adapts more efficiently to change with less chance of injury.

  47. Suggested weight lifting repetition range.
  48. Population Rep Range
    Healthy participants under age 50-60

    Pubescent children

    Pre-pubescent children

    Individuals older than age 50-60 or frail persons

    Individuals primarily interested in muscular endurance

    Cardiac patients with physician’s approval

    10-12 comfortably
    Pregnant women without contraindications who have previously
    participated in weight training

  49. Use variety.
  50. The body is very adaptive. Performing the same routine over and over is not only boring, but your body will get used to the routine and quit responding. Change your exercises, the order in which you do them, the number or sets and reps, or change the weights. In one workout you may use dumbbells, another you may use barbells, in another, cables, in another, body weight. Find an excellent weight lifting program that suits you. There are so many free ones out there. Just google it. I, for example, train using Men’s Health’s Power Training Program. I’d recommend you to give it a try.

    It’s also important to tell the difference between a fitness myth and a fitness fact. Clear your doubts by reading this.