You don't have to go it alone. In fact, some experts say you'll actually burn more with a buddy.
Click here for more
These tips and tricks will help you stay slim all summer long.
Click here for more
Gold's Gym's experts can help you optimize your strength training
We all know that strength training and weight lifting provides a huge benefit to your overall health. Improper form, though, can neutralize those rewards and, over time, even pose a few risks. According to weight lifting and strength training expert Mike Ryan, too often people focus on the amount of weight that they're moving instead of targeting specific muscle groups in a controlled manner. "We're not here to try and lift as much as possible," says Ryan, a Gold's Gym Fitness Institute member. "It's all about form and technique — that's how you get the most gains."
Abandoning that form can lead to ineffective workouts or worse, according to personal trainer and nutritionist Robert Reames, also a member of Gold's Gym's Fitness Institute. "When you overextend, you're not really working the muscles optimally," he says. "You're putting the resistance back on the ligaments. That's when people create damage."
To help make sure you're getting the most out of your workout — and maintaining healthy joints — we asked Ryan and Reames to describe the proper technique for exercises they most often see done incorrectly.
Standing Bicep Curl
- • Firmly plant your feet, with knees bent slightly. This puts the pressure off of your lower back and onto the more powerful muscle groups in your legs.
- • Stabilize your shoulders and torso by standing tall and straight, drawing your navel into your spine.
- • Weight in hand, bend your arm just past 90 degrees.
- • Let your arm extend back down, keeping your shoulders and back stable.
- • Keep your arms and back straight with each step, taking care not to swing your weights with the forward motion.
- • As you lunge, both legs should make a 90 degree angle. Leaning too far — if your lead knee ends up past your toe — puts undue strain your knee and lower back.
- • A "walking lunge," in which you continue moving forward with every repetition, will help recruit more muscle fibers and build more mass.
- • Sit upright, back straight, with enough distance to the bar that your arms can go through the full range of motion.
- • Bring your elbows straight down, keeping your torso and back stabilized so that you don't use your body weight to move the bar.
- • Keep the bar in front of your body, bringing it directly below your chin before extending fully back to the start position. Pulling the bar behind your head can lead to neck injury over time.
- • While you can perform the exercise standing, a seated overhead press will provide extra back support.
- • Perform the exercise in a slow and methodical manner, taking care to reach a full range of motion without locking your elbows.
- • When discarding the weight, first bring it down to your quad, letting it rest on your leg to maintain stability in your torso and back. Then place it on the floor.
- • Make sure you have a wide enough grip by aligning your index finger with the first ring on the bar.
- • Bring your elbows back even with your shoulders. Any further puts undue stress on your ligaments without adding any benefit to your lift.
- • Let the bar touch your chest, then drive back to full extension in one fluid motion.
- • Keep your body flat and feet planted firmly on the floor. If your lower body comes up off the bench during the press, it's an indication that you're driving with your legs and hips instead of your chest and arm muscles.
- • Place your feet hip-width apart: Any further can throw your hips out of alignment; any narrower will put undue strain on your hips and knees.
- • Keep your feet flat through the exercise, but position yourself to drive the majority of the weight through your heels.
- • Your range of motion shouldn't extend past 90 degrees. Any more will overstress your patellar tendon without benefiting your overall conditioning.
- • Grab hold of the handles and ease yourself into a stable position, with your shoulders and chin back and your back straight.
- • Keep your body still through the rowing motion. The more you lean forward or back, the less effective the exercise is and the more likely you are to injure your back.
- • Maintaining a stable torso has the added benefit of providing a midsection workout through the row.