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Lift weights safely: the ten commandments

07th September 2016

Oh come, all ye faithful weightlifters. Whilst you may not be in the running for becoming the world’s strongest man any time soon, it’s still important (no matter how much you bench) to avoid injury. So don’t merely copy your mate’s technique at the gym, follow our simple guide and stay in tip-top condition!

Weightlifting has a reputation as an injury-heavy sport, with YouTube videos of popping muscles and over-extending joints going more viral than the common cold. The fact is that done right, it’s one of the safest physical activities going, with injury rates sitting lower than almost all contact sports, most winter sports and many track and field events.

Take heed of these ten simple commandments and enjoy one of the safest and most rewarding sports on the planet.

1. Thou shalt warm up
It may seem obvious, but the fact is that many weightlifters will go into a session without a proper warm up, by far and away the most common reason for muscular or skeletal injury whilst lifting.

2. Thou shalt seek a spotter
However you’re planning to lift, it’s good practice to enlist the help of a friend to spot for you. It doubles as a good training tool, adding to motivation, and keeps your morale steady, too.

3. Thou shalt use the correct weights
It’s all very well and good busting a blood vessel and reaching for the gym record, but if your body isn’t ready, there’s a good chance you’ll do yourself an injury. Start slow and build up across a measured training regime - the heavier weights will come.

4. Thou shalt use collars
Again, an obvious safety measure, but one that often gets overlooked in the heat of battle. Collars not only protect vulnerable body parts from falling weights, but your back from sudden shifts in weight balance.

5. Thou shalt keep perfect form
Lifting technique is one for another day, but keeping your form is of pinnacle importance. Sloppy form leads to injury more often than you’d think.

6. Thou shalt keep a safe lifting speed
An uncontrolled lift and jerk that relies more on momentum than strength is just plain dangerous, and this is where those horror videos usually come from. Keep a strong, safe lifting speed and stick to it.

7. Thou shalt listen to your body
Tired? Listen to what your body is telling you and put the weights down for a second.

8. Thou shalt be aware of your surroundings
Look all around you before each lift. Are your shoelaces tied? Is your towel well out of the way? It’s another obvious one, but tripping with a heavy weight above your head can lead to serious injury. Be vigilant.

9. Thou shalt take a day of rest
We’ve all got targets, but heavy lifting every day can be detrimental. Sculpt a proper training programme and make sure you stick to it, including rest days to allow your body to recover.

10. Thou shalt warm down
Stretch purposefully and correctly to cool your muscles down and repair them after a tough training session, just as you would at the start. Post-preparation is as vital and the prep itself.