A heavy load isn't always the safest road for weightlifting
At some point, we've all found ourselves nervously wincing as we've watched someone attempt to perform a haphazard, superhuman feat of strength in the gym.
It's not uncommon to see someone load up a barbell with an amount of weight he or she can't handle only to proceed to squat it a mere six inches, knees caving inward and eyes popping out like those of a rabid maniac. Unsafe stunts like this are being facilitated by a "no pain, no gain" performance mindset and a widespread misunderstanding of movement techniques. Don't let these ideas ruin your workouts and your health.
The human body is an incredibly efficient yet stubborn piece of machinery. When muscular imbalances, altered joint mechanics, or poor understandings of exercises prevent us from performing tasks the way we were designed to carry them out, our bodies will find risky shortcuts to complete the movements.
Though we may be able to get away with biomechanically incorrect compensations for a while, cutting corners will only ingrain shoddy motor control and lead to serious injuries.
"We have confused functionality with physiology," writes Dr. Kelly Starrett, physical therapist and creator of MobilityWOD.com. "Sure, you can lift heavy loads with a rounded back for a long, long time, but at some point your tissues will fail."
Just because something works doesn't mean it's safe. Bad mechanics may initially allow us to lift more weight, but they also may cause us to develop overuse injuries along with other nasty side effects.
Starrett's book, "Becoming a Supple Leopard," is an excellent guide to learning correct movement patterns and correcting musculoskeletal problems that inhibit efficient motion. In it, he attacks the performance-at-any-cost workout mindset that does more for the ego than it does for wellness.
Nothing is more important than proper form when exercising, not even the amount of weight we are lifting.
Lifting a heavy load improperly does more harm than good, overly stressing our tissues and robbing us of potential force production. If a weight is too heavy to lift with good form, it's too heavy to work out with.
Research correct techniques before attempting an exercise, and practice the movement without added weight before increasing the load. You wouldn't study the basic mechanics of a firearm using a loaded gun; don't learn the basic mechanics of your body using a loaded barbell.
In addition to Starrett's highly recommended text, Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier, and Bodybuilding.com/Exercises are great resources anyone interested in taking advantage of the benefits of resistance training should consult.
Each source does an excellent job of explaining workout movements, and the books listed will pay for themselves ten times over by preventing injuries.
Unless you're a competitive athlete who understands the risks of sacrificing technique for performance, keep your workout sessions safe to get results without injury-related setbacks.
Though progressively overloading the muscles is necessary to see positive adaptations from weight lifting, it should always be done safely and with proper technique. No one has anything to prove to anybody in the gym, and correct movement patterns will take us further than sloppily lifting weights too heavy ever will.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More easttennessean News Articles
Recent easttennessean News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR EASTTENNESSEAN
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST EASTTENNESSEAN NEWS
RECENT EASTTENNESSEAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- For Love of the Game -- Smokeless Tobacco Still a Part of...
- How Plumbing Is Flushing Into the Future
- New App Takes the Task Out of Boat Maintenance
- Talk Before You Take When Dealing With Medicine
- Eclectic Father's Day Gift Ideas for Dad
- When on an Association Board, Education Is a Must
- Anti-Cancer Compounds Show Promise in Early Research
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Home Clean During a Remodel
- This Spring, It's all About That Bass Fishing -- and Your...
- Pepper Spray Conversations Heat Up, Myths Debunked
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- LEMELSON-MIT ANNOUNCES NATIONAL COLLEGIATE STUDENT PRIZE COMPETITION WINNERS
- NEW WEBSITE FEATURES COLLEGE PROFESSORS EXCLUSIVELY AS ONLINE TUTORS
- Dickinson College and Jadu Reinvent Website and Portal with 'Single Experience Student Platform'
- UT Austin Tops All-America Student Analyst Competition 2014-15
- SVG, NACDA Announce Finalists for 2015 College Sports Media Awards