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Lift Weights Safely

By Paul Rothbart

Weight training, also known as resistance training, is a flexible form of exercise that can improve your fitness and health in more than one way. It can obviously make you stronger and help your muscles grow. It can also burn fat, improve body composition, increase endurance, and even help with flexibility. Whether you pound serious iron or do many reps with lighter weights, lifting can benefit your health. Weight training also has its risks and many people are injured each year while resistance training. When you lift, it's important to practice safety.

Warm Up

Jumping in and performing lifts without a warm-up period is a great way to get injured. Muscles that haven't been working are cold and tight. It's very easy to strain or tear them by putting a load on them that they are not ready for. Take the time to thoroughly stretch each part of your body to build elasticity. Light calisthenics or jogging in place will get the blood flowing and warm your muscles up. Starting out each exercise with a couple of sets with very light weights will warm you up further and prepare your muscles for the harder work to come.

Safety While Lifting

Proper technique is vital. Know the right way to perform any lift. Ask a personal trainer or experienced lifter. Any deviation from the correct form can overstress your back or a joint and cause an injury that could be severe. Don't use more weight than you can handle. The idea is to gradually use more weight as you get stronger but do it slowly. If it feels too heavy, it is. Stop and lighten the load. Never train alone. It's important to have a spotter. If you get too tired to crank out the last rep while bench pressing or squatting, you will be in a vulnerable and dangerous position. Have a gym buddy there to help you get the load down safely.

Inspect Equipment

Make sure the equipment you are using is not damaged and is functioning correctly. Check the collars that hold plates on barbells and dumbbells to make sure they won't give way and spill plates onto the floor. Many serious injuries happen that way. If you use machines, check that all parts are securely in place and working properly. This even applies to gloves and lifting belts. Replace them if they become worn or frayed. Damaged equipment often leads to a damaged body.

Resistance training is a great way to get in shape and look better. To do it safely, it's important to take the time to warm up, do things right, and use quality equipment. Failure to do so could result in an injury.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Cartersville, Ga.

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