Whether you’ve been lifting weights for years or have only recently discovered the benefits, make sure you’re not making any of these common mistakes so you can reap all the rewards without injuries or DOMS setting you back.
1. Go heavy before you're ready
“Don’t sacrifice good technique for a heavier weight,” warns Hayley Williamson, a personal trainer at Fernwood Salisbury. “Lifting heavier weights without proper technique will increase your chances of injury.” There’ll be plenty of time to go all Arnie Schwarzenegger once your technique is down pat.
2. Skip the warm-up
“Lifting without warming up can lead to muscle strains – don’t take the risk,” says Williamson.
“Due to our lifestyles, especially at work, we spend much of our time sitting at a desk or computer. Make sure that the quads get a good stretch before and after a training session and that the glutes are activated by doing some very simple activation drills prior to training,” adds Liz Yochum, trainer at Fernwood Mitcham.
Always warm up and leave time to stretch after a weights training session. If you’re not sure how to do this effectively, ask your PT to show you what to do.
3. Repeat the same sessions
Continually doing the same exercises may feel comfortable, but it won’t do your strength program any favours. “Change up your weights routine! Your results will plateau if you are not changing things up,” says Williamson. Aim to switch things up every four weeks or so to keep your muscles and mind interested.
4. Be afraid to ask
“If you are unsure of what you are doing, don’t be afraid to ask the PTs for help,” says Williamson. “Fernwood PTs can write you a tailored program to suit your fitness level, goals and injuries. They can also check your technique to make sure you are doing exercises properly.”
5. Ignore signs of injury
If something doesn’t feel right, stop lifting immediately. Ignoring signs of strain or injury can lead to more serious or long-term complications that could have been avoided. Nip them in the bud. “See an allied health professional if you have any niggling injuries that just won’t go away,” advises Yochum.
6. Avoid heavy weights
The biggest myth of all is that if women lift weights, they’ll become bulky and overly muscular. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as women don’t have the levels of testosterone required to bulk up naturally. What they do gain from strength training is better muscle tone, stronger bones, greater fat-burning capacity and, more often than not, boosted confidence.
7. Overdo it
Share the love in the weights room. You may feel like certain 'problem areas' need more attention than others, but hammering away at a particular muscle group is a fast track to soreness, boredom and potential overuse injuries. Well-rounded workouts that target the major muscle groups will help you avoid burnout, gain functional strength that supports your body during its daily activities and achieve a balanced look.
8. Compare yourself to others
This is your journey. Learn to love that reflection of yourself pumping out those bicep curls in the gym mirror. If you can do that, you’ll go from strength to strength.