Weight-lifting and safety


This is such an important topic that I believe it warrants its own unique post. I did cover the safety aspect of performing the bench press, so I won’t go over that again.

Danger in weights

There is first the safety involved in handling heavy weights. These can simply drop on you and maim you or kill you. Make sure all weights on dumbells and barbells are secured. If you are working with machines, beware of loose clothing or long hair getting trapped in the moving parts. If you are squatting, beware of the weight on your shoulders falling over you. This happens just too often.

Sometimes, if you overload a machine, it may break and send a part flying in your face or even your own hand hitting you hard. Imagine you are working at the pec deck machine. To do this machine exercise, you sit and press a pad with each hand towards your face. If you have added some discs to the pin that holds the weight within the machine as some clever folks do, you are overloading the cables which have not been designed to withstand this load. What can happen is that the cable breaks when you are pressing at your hardest and the pad slams in your face, braking your nose or worse.

Another example: if you are doing pullovers with a dumbbell that is not properly tightened, the weight may fall on your face while the dumbbell is overhead. Not a pretty result. So the general rule is to double-check all the weights you will be lifting to make sure you have added the correct amount and secured them properly. I remember when I just started out, I was doing the benchpress and got confused with the total weight. I wanted to lift 30kg in total but instead I put 30kg on each side. I was lucky to be able to roll the weight of me as there was no one around…

Danger in the exercises

The danger is not just from the weight and machines. Safety is also about how you perform exercises, in particular back exercises. If you don’t perform an exercise correctly, you are putting stress on your body in a way it is not designed to handle. When doing all back exercises, you should keep your spine naturally curved, or flat as some call it. The tendency is to round your back but you must avoid it all the time or you will be opening yourself to serious back injury.

When doing the benchpress, the tendency for some is to lift their bum off the seat in order to lift more. This is performing the exercise incorrectly in an unnatural position and inviting injury. Keep our body flat on the bench. When doing a barbell curl, you might bend backwards to squeeze out one last rep. Again, this is something to avoid. There are many cases of doing an exercise incorrectly without really noticing it, that’s why as a beginner, it’s important you learn the proper form and stick to it.

Safety is also about developing your body in a harmonious way. If you work your abs only in order to get a six pack and forego your back muscles, then you create an imbalance in your body – strong abs but weak back. The muscles of the body work together. The biceps balance out the triceps, the hamstrings balance out the quadriceps, and the abs balance out the lower back muscles. So if you work one muscle, you should work the opposing muscle to keep your body in balance.

You may be a young teenager starting out at the gym and your body feels like a well-oiled machine. Why warm up, you might ask? I’m not a doctor so I can’t really explain that to you especially if you do not feel you have to. I understand how you feel because I was there too and felt like you. But I can also tell you that as the years pile up, you won’t feel as good as new and you will feel the need yourself to warm-up. Now, maybe if you had started warming ever since you were a young teenager, you wouldn’t feel as inflexible as now.

Today I will wish you a safe workout.

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