Here are 7 Rules to help you do correctly lifting exercises:
Up to an hour before exercise, eat a light, healthy meal containing low to moderate glycaemic index carbohydrates (oats, brown rice or wholemeal bread), protein (a few slices of chicken) and a little fat (olive oil) to fuel your workout. Just before you start training you could also top up your energy with a banana or another high-carb, low-fat snack if you feel you need it. Food equals energy, and not eating enough will cause your body to use up your muscle mass for fuel and big, heavy meals before training, with lots of protein and fat, drives blood to your gut, not your muscles. Always eat light before and heavy after training.
VISUALIZE YOUR LIFT
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, then exhale and focus your mind on an exercise to generate a strong mental image of the setting. The more times you run through the perfect exercise technique in your mind, the more prepared and confident you’ll feel when it comes to doing it for real. Practice makes permanent and your brain neurons don’t know the difference between the real and the imagined, so the more you practice perfect technique in your head, the better you’ll get in reality.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, whether you’re working on the upper or lower body, and flat on the floor with your body weight well distributed between the big toe, ball of the foot and heel.’If your stance is wider than shoulder-width you won’t successfully engage your core muscles to their full potential. ‘If your feet are too narrow you’ll lose your balance and call upon other muscles that shouldn’t be working to help. Your feet should also point directly forwards, but if you suffer from knee pain you may find it more comfortable to turn them out slightly.
CHECK YOUR POSTURE
Before lifting any weight, you must contract your core muscles and make sure your spine is in a neutral position (neither extended nor flexed). You should also consider your pelvic position. Your pelvis should be horizontal, with your abs contracted. ‘If your posture’s right you’ll have all of the core muscles and stabilizers engaged and ready to provide a strong, stable base to perform any exercise.
RELAX YOUR SHOULDERS
When pushing or pulling weights, stand tall and keep your shoulders back and relaxed. If muscles around the shoulder joint are tight, the shoulder joint structure and position can be affected. This may limit your range of movement and could affect overhead movements in particular. It also increases the chances of injuring your shoulder when performing shoulder presses or upright rows, for example. Your shoulder blades should be slightly retracted and flat against your rib cage. This requires using the lower part of the trapezius muscle, an area that is often much neglected in training.
WATCH YOUR GRIP
Before lifting the bar, make sure it is in line with your forearm and that your fingers are wrapped over the bar with thumbs underneath. If your thumbs are over the top with your fingers, it will cause excessive extension and compression of the wrist, which will lead to pain. Holding the bar like this could also cause an injury because if it’s not placed securely in your hands it could slip. Some gym-goers also tend to grip the bar too tightly. This can isolate the muscles in your forearm and limit your lifting ability.
WATCH YOUR BREATH
Remember that you must breathe out on the concentric muscle contraction (lifting the weight) and in on the eccentric muscle contraction (lowering the weight). Your breathing should be deep but take care not to breathe too deeply because this could lead to hyperventilation. And forgetting to breathe properly because you’re concentrating on what you’re lifting can put a real strain on your body, too. Holding your breath when lifting can cause high blood pressure and wall limit oxygen supply to working muscles. The advantage of breathing out on the acceleration is that the core muscles can contract more fully because they don’t have to resist lungs, which are full of air.