Understanding weight training terminology will better equip you to understand what you read in books and magazines and will help you to design your own program.
- A repetition (“rep”) is the number of times a particular exercise is repeated. One repetition of a bicep curl would involve curling the bar up and lowering the bar down.
- A set is a number of continuous repetitions performed without resting. One set of abdominal curls could be comprised of ten repetitions.
- A program is a broad term that refers to all of the activities that are performed during your exercise regime. Normally, the repetitions and sets of each exercise are recorded in an exercise log to help you remember the order and specifics of each exercise and to track your progress. When you perform your program in a safe fashion, you significantly reduce the potential for injuries.
- Warm up and cool down with an easy set. Ease your body into and out of the workout.
- Always choose weights that allow you to exercise in a controlled fashion and will not cause you to strain. Lift the weights at a moderate pace, taking about two seconds to lift the weight and two seconds to lower it.
- Use collars. These clamp-like safety devices secure weight plates onto a bar. The collar prevents them from sliding off should the bar tilt to one side.
- Use a spotter. If you are increasing your weights or trying a new exercise, the weights may wobble as you lift. A spotter stands nearby and grabs the weights in case your muscles are unable to handle the load.
- Drink water throughout your workout. Dehydration, as a result of sweating, can negatively affect your exercise performance.
“Don’t hold your breath” or “remember to breathe.” Chances are, you’ve heard this from a fitness instructor if you’ve ever set foot in a gym. While it’s an important rule to follow, what instructors often don’t tell you is why you should keep breathing, aside from the obvious. So here are the specifics on how to breathe properly and why it’s so important to focus on proper breathing technique during weight training:
- Exhale on the exertion: Breathe out deeply during the most difficult part of the exercise. For example, during a bench press, exhale as you push the bar up.
- Inhale deeply: Inhale on the least difficult phase of the exercise. During a leg extension, for example, inhale as the legs are lowered down to the starting position. There’s no need to focus too much on this phase of breathing. After deeply exhaling,a deep inhale should naturally follow.
The Importance of Proper Breathing
- Muscles need oxygen to work.
- Lifting weights temporarily causes your blood pressure to shoot up, which normally is not a problem. But when you hold your breath, your blood pressure rises even higher and then suddenly comes crashing down when you start breathing again. This drastic drop may cause you to become light-headed.
- If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, additional stresses placed upon the body by holding your breath could put you in serious jeopardy. Participants with either of these conditions should consult their physician before beginning any type of exercise program.
- The deep exhale stabilizes the spine. It protects your lower back by building up muscular pressure in the trunk to act as a natural girdle.
- Deep, regular breathing ensures that oxygen is delivered to the muscles as needed and keeps you from getting fatigued prematurely.
Free Weights Vs. Machine
Just like warming up for aerobic exercise, you need to warm up before a weight training session. A good warm up is an essential component of any good workout.
The general phase of the warm up consists of easy, rhythmic moves like easy cycling, walking or slow jogging. These activities gradually begin to raise your heart rate and help warm up the body’s core temperature.
The specific phase of the warm up consists of activities that mimic what you’ll be doing in the main portion of the workout. For example, weight trainers might do a light warm up set before their heavier sets.
Why is a warm up so important?
- It prepares your mind for the workout ahead. Starting out slowly eases your mind and body into the workout. Troubles and stresses of the day gradually disappear as you are required increasingly to concentrate on your technique and performance.
- It helps prevent injuries. The warm up increases your body’s core temperature and increases the elasticity of muscles and connective tissue. Muscles that are warm and flexible are much less prone to injury.
- It enhances oxygen supply to the muscles. Blood flow increases and speeds oxygen to the muscles during the warm up. When the working muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients during a workout, the result is improved athletic performance.
- Helps you pace yourself. If you rush into a workout without a warm up, you often tire quickly. A slow, gentle warm up involves all of the body’s energy systems and doesn’t produce large amounts of lactic acid, which causes muscle fatigue. Good pacing allows you to work comfortably for longer.
- It improves heart function. The warm up prepares the heart for the demands that will be put upon it as the workout intensity builds. It also reduces the risk of electrical abnormalities occurring in the heart as a result of rushing into the workout.