Doing it wrong! Don’t you love walking into a gym and seeing someone on the lat pulldown machine, yanking that bar down as hard as they can while swinging their body back and forth? All the while, they are usually grunting and groaning as if they are giving birth.

My back hurts just looking at them!

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It is so unnecessary as well as potentially dangerous. Everyone can avoid this by concentrating on and improving their form and technique. Perfect weightlifting form is the answer and I promise you the results will follow!

Perfect weightlifting form

I’m sure you’ve got a tale or two to tell of your own, but that’s not why I appeared on your screen today.  I’m going to shift my focus in a positive direction and talk to you about how to perfect your form when lifting weights.

It’s easy to do things wrong, but not always easy to do things right. Just as you will have to pay attention now, you’ll also have to pay attention in the weights room.

Ready?  Let’s go…

Use a full range of motion

Joints allow you to move bones back and forth and in rotational patterns. Not using up ALL of this range of motion is a slap in the face to your anatomy.

God gave you the ability to move for a reason. Make sure to take full advantage of this!

Biceps curl

Let’s take a biceps curl, for example.  If you stop the weight just shy of full extension over and over again, your muscles will adapt to this and become shortened.  Then when you fully extend your arm to throw a punch in Tae Bow class, you’re likely to suffer a traumatic injury.

The best case scenario is a slightly torn bicep muscle.  The worst case scenario is a completely torn bicep tendon and your biceps muscle folds up your arm like an accordion.

I don’t mean to be graphic, but just promise me that you will always move through a full range of motion with every exercise.

Drop the ego instead of the weights

Honestly, no one really cares about how much you can deadlift or bench press. Leave the uber heavy weight lifting to the competitive powerlifters who do it professionally.

Your main goal is to build strength and a functional body that will not let you down in times of need, such as carrying groceries in for grandma, lifting your child onto a swing and pushing a pensioner’s car out of the ditch.

Don’t overdo it

Stick to a weight that is challenging, but manageable.  This way you can move it through a full range of motion and not risk getting sloppy.  Also, this will keep a lot of stress off your joints and add years to your weight lifting career as you get older.

Believe me, I know a lot of 50-plus dudes who regret lifting heavy when they were younger.  Always plan for the future when you are lifting, the same way you would with your retirement fund.

Take adequate rest breaks

There really is no set standard time when it comes to rest breaks while lifting.  But I can tell you this.  If your form is not 90% or better with each set, then you need to rest longer.

perfect weight lifting form_2

If you feel comfortable resting for 30 seconds and can still reel off a 90% set, then have it. But if it takes you 60 to 90 seconds, then take that much time. Just experiment and use a rest break that works best for you.

This will obviously vary with exercises too.  A set of double kettlebell clean and presses is pretty intense.  It makes sense that it will take you longer to recover from this exercise than say, a set of calf raises.

Breathe appropriately

For some reason, people have a tendency to hold their breath when they are lifting weights.  YOU are not going to do that though because it’s not fashionable and it does not help your lifting mechanics.

I would go as far as saying proper breathing is to weightlifting what proper dieting is to weight loss.  If you perfect your breathing, you will be able to move the weights with more power, grace and ease.

Inhale and exhale

Every time you do a rep, you should also do a full inhale and exhale.  An easy way to remember how to do this is, breathe in on the lowering or eccentric phase, and breathe out on the exertion or concentric phase.

But be aware that some exercises require you to exhale as you are pulling weights toward your body like bent over rows.  Just always make sure to fully exhale on the exertion of force, regardless if the weight is coming towards or away from you.

Create tension throughout your body

Perfect lifting form wouldn’t be complete without doing the right tension techniques.  When you are heaving a weight through a range of motion, create as much tension in your body as possible – more importantly, your core region.

Let’s take double kettlebell military presses, for example.

Double kettlebell military presses

When you push the weights from the rack position overhead, squeeze your abs, glutes and quads as hard as you can while also crushing the handles of the bells.

perfect weight lifting form_2

You won’t actually be able to crush the handles unless you are Godzilla, but just make sure to use as much force as possible.  Use this technique with every lift you do, and not only will it make a difference with your form, but it will also prevent your spine from getting turned into mashed potatoes.

Alright, I talked your ear off long enough!  It’s time for you to go apply what you just learned. Stay tuned for my future works and always give me a shout if you need further assistance.  I’m not a hard guy to find.

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