So basically these next couple of days or post will be about getting you ready to lift weights. This post specifically will give you the proper form and techniques to lifting weights. I will probably list a a decent amount of exercise that require good form and technique. I don’t like skipping the important stuff and before I start posting about certain exercises more in depth, I need everyone ready to know how to do these exercises properly so that you can refrain from any injuries. I would also like to add that, I will cover running form/technique as well (not in this post) so be prepared for that as well. Tons to talk about. I think most of you might leave overwhelmed, but I am an open book & you can ask me questions about these topics & I will answer them at the best of my ability. Pictures speak louder than words and pretty soon down the road I will post pictures of these particular exercises and the steps but until then, just bare with me and deal with the text or do some picture researching before hand. To begin with, this particular post will cover ONLY form and technique of specific exercises dealing with weights and will not cover spotting (that will be for another blog post); so keep this in mind as you read. Following these procedures are highly recommended and while I am not there to stop you from continuing down the path of “wrong”, I would just like to say it would be in your best interest to follow these steps.
Now before I begin this, I want everyone to know, there are many different exercises out there dealing with weights, so excuse me if I don’t hit all 4893759759272572952 of them, but if there is one that I don’t list, PLEASE CONTACT ME & I will add it with no problem. Weight lifting is a very important aspect to working out, not only is it about strength but it is for endurance purposes too, so if you are new to this part of fitness, these rules will help you get started.
The barbell back squat:
- Approaching the bar:Make sure the bar is low enough for you to take it off the pegs (mid chest preferably), find your hand position (closer if you are a smaller lifter and have great spine and shoulder mobility, for someone who is a bigger lifter or bad mobility a wider grip may be necessary)
- Bar position:Decide whether you will be doing the “high bar” or “low bar” position, for beginners, it would probably be in your best interest to start at a high bar position because the low bar sits lower on the back. Either way, squeeze your shoulder blades together so that act as a pillow and make it more comfortable for you.
- Unracking the bar: This can make or break your squat. Start with your feet under the bar and hands in position, get under the bar in a high or low bar position, adjust grip if necessary but stay tight, keep chest up and elbows down, take a big breathe in and hold, squat up to unrack the bar (take a second and decide if the weight is comfortable and keep holding the breathe in), take one step back with one leg then the other and release your breathe, wiggle feet into the proper position
- Foot position: Foot position is key (provides a stable base and proper joint mechanics from your ankle all the way up to the hips), feet shoulder width apart
- Neck and eye position: You should keep your eyes fixed on a horizon (not the ceiling) looking up can cause your to hyperextend your cervical spine and looking straight is fine as long as you aren’t looking in a mirror, where ever your eyes go your neck should follow and stay in alignment with your body.
- Sit back and knees out: Do not just sit straight down because it will put too much stress on your knees. Aim to sit like were going to sit in a chair and press your knees outwards.
- Squat depth: Squat as low as comfortable for you, don’t push it if you know you are going to hurt yourself (especially beginners), The aim is below parallel (below the hips) if you know you cannot do that there may be reasons why and its best to do what you can and maybe some hip stretching exercises to loosen them (mobility exercises)
- Back to the top: activate your glute muscles and hamstrings and squeeze your butt, press knees outward, stay tight throughout your back so that you maintain stability
- Getting under the bar: make the 5 contacts (both feet on floor, back on the bench, both shoulders on the bench and head on the bench) very important because it will help keep your base of support strong.
- Foot position: Neutral foot position for beginners and general public. If you compete you may have to do the “feet back” but everyone else focus on neutral which means flat on the ground.
- Hand position and gripping the bar: There are three different kinds (neutral, narrow and wide) and they all are very good, especially if you need to work on certain muscles. It’s a good idea as a beginner to start with the neutral hand grip and get used to that before moving on to the other two types. The knuckles should be placed behind the bar not under it, pull your shoulder blades together & down, act as if you are trying to rip the bar apart, engage your core, glutes and quads by squeezing these muscles. It is a good idea to practice these steps with an empty bar for starters until you get the hang of it.
- Unracking the bar: Use your back and lat muscles to push the bar off the rack without pushing the shoulders forward (because it will make it harder to get back into position if you push your shoulders forward)
- Proper breathing: before lowering the bar, take a big breathe in and hold it. You can exhale when you at the very top of each rep. The more advanced athletes will exhale using pursed lips as they reach the very top. Breathing is very, very, very, very important!( reset breathe at the top, never at the bottom of a rep)
- Stay tight and pull bar to your chest: Make sure to squeeze your butt, glutes, abs, back and lats. Do not allow your elbows to flare out or go perpendicular to your body ( keep elbows at a 45 degree angle), control the bar all the way down to your chest for proper mobility. Avoid popping your head off the bench.
- Drive the bar up with your whole body: Push up until you are locked into that position but keep shoulders from pushing forward.
- Eye focus: Keep your eyes focused on one point on the ceiling.
- Starting position: start with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and toes pointing out slightly, squat down and grasp bar with a closed pronated grip. Hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart, outside knees with elbows fully extended. Place the bar 1 inch in front of your shins and over the balls of your feet. Your back should be flat or slightly arched, chest held up and out, shoulder blades should be retracted. keep your head in a neutral position ( in line with your vertical column), eyes focused straight ahead and inhale.
- First pull phase: Lift the bar from the floor by forcefully extending the hips and the knees as you exhale, the upper torso should maintain the same position. Do not bend the wrist or have your hips rise before the shoulders, keep elbows fully extended, with head in neutral position and shoulders over the bar.As the bar raises, keep it close to shins as much as possible
- Transition/scoop phase: As the bar passes the knees, thrust your hips forward and slightly bend the knees to avoid locking them. thighs should be against the bar. keep the back flat or slightly arched, elbows fully extended and head is neutral. Hold your breathe until the next phase.
- Second pull phase:Inhale and forcefully and quickly extend your hips and knees and stand on your toes. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Back should be flat and elbows pointed out to the sides. Keep shoulders over the bar and arms straight. When the lower body joints are fully extended shrug the shoulders upward rapidly without letting the elbows flex. Exhale during this portion. As your shoulders reach their highest elevation, flex your elbows to begin pulling your body under the bar. Continue to pull the arms high and as long as possible.
- Catch phase: . After the lower body has fully extended and the bar reaches near maximal height, pull your body under the bar and rotate the arms around and under the bar.Simultaneously, flex the hips and knees into a quarter squat position.Once the arms are under the bar, inhale and then lift your elbows to position the upper arms parallel to the floor. Rack the bar across the front of your collar bones and front shoulder muscles.Catch the bar with an erect and tight torso, a neutral head position and flat feet. Exhale during this movement Stand up by extending the hips and knees to a fully erect position
- Downward movement phase: Lower the bar by gradually reducing the muscular tension of the arms to allow a controlled descent of the bar to the thighs. Inhale during this movement.Simultaneously flex the hips and knees to cushion the impact of the bar on the thighs.Squat down with the elbows fully extended until the bar touches the floor.Start over at Phase 1 and repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Keep your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward. This will be your starting position.
- Now, keeping the upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights while contracting your biceps. Continue to raise the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps
- Then, inhale and slowly begin to lower the dumbbells back to the starting position
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
You can do this exercise sitting down or standing up.
One arm dumbbell row:
- Choose a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side of it.
- Place the right leg on top of the end of the bench, bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support.
- Use the left hand to pick up the dumbbell on the floor and hold the weight while keeping your lower back straight. The palm of the hand should be facing your torso. This will be your starting position
- Pull the resistance straight up to the side of your chest, keeping your upper arm close to your side and keeping the torso stationary. Breathe out as you perform this step. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. Also, make sure that the force is performed with the back muscles and not the arms. Finally, the upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the dumbbell; therefore do not try to pull the dumbbell up using the forearms.
- Lower the resistance straight down to the starting position. Breathe in as you perform this step
- Repeat the movement for the specified amount of repetitions.
- Switch sides and repeat again with the other arm
So this was a very vague list of exercises, and like I said there are many more. I chose these based on the fact I see these done quite often at the gyms and are probably some of the easier ones. I don’t mind adding more to the list if you believe i missed some important ones. I would love to hear it, hopefully these will help you for the time being & give you some new insight on some these exercises I listed. No matter the exercise, breathing is key and plays a very important role in lifting. I have a hard time breathing too and have been working on it, but if you are someone who struggles with remembering to breathe while working out, try counting and that might help out. Also lifting is much more than getting muscle, it can help those you wanting to lose weight too so keep that that in mind as well.
Thank you for reading, please comment, like, follow, and share.
Your blogger Shay-lon