Basic Training: Weightlifting

By Ryan Mulloy
March 14, 2002

Leaving the gym incredibly sore is pretty much the standard. Walking out of the weight room feeling like “the man,” or “woman,” after the best workout in the history of exercise is a rewarding feeling. The next day, it’s normal to be sore. But a few days later, what if your arms hurt? Or what about your lower back? Chances are, you are doing something wrong.

Weightlifting can be made simple. With dumbbells and other free weights, there are basic rules, sets, repetitions and ways to give your upper body a solid work out. There are also three different types of lifting: muscle endurance, muscle mass and muscle strength. Depending upon how you exercise effects the way you come out from the gym.

The Basics

Andra Riccio, an athletic trainer in trainer who works in the Dixon Center, feels that there are many basics that are imperative for working out with free weights. “People think they can just stretch. You can’t just do that,” Riccio said. Riccio recommends warming up with some cardiovascular work, using the exercise bikes or one of the other pieces of cardio equipment. When warming up with free weights, the lifter should start off with lighter weights with lighter motion.

It’s also important to control breathing when lifting. When lifting the weights up, you should always breathe out. Then when lowering the weight, it is very important to inhale again. When working out, you should never hold your breath. In the process of lifting and lowering the weights, you should always pace yourself as well. As the weight is lifted, you use positive energy to keep it going. But that is not where you stop.

“If you drop the weight fast, it’s just wasted energy.” Lowering the weight slowly is what helps build the muscle. In swinging the weights around in such a fast pace, you waste energy and you basically waste your time. “You should really take about two seconds to lift the weight and then use another four as you lower it.” The range of motion in weightlifting, as in curling, is very important. It can be modified, but should really only be changed in times of working injured limbs.

Another basic is maintaining proper posture. Beginners can sometimes lean against something to keep their back from bending as they lift. It may be a good idea to be with someone else, as working out with someone else is always a good idea. Have someone watch your back as you lift, in order to avoid bending. Another option is to use the free weights against a wall to keep the back straight.

“As you lift, if your back bends, you’re really just exercising substitution.” With poor posture, the lifter really just does all of their work with their back as they lift, instead of using their positive force to curl.

Muscle Endurance

In working for endurance, you work with lighter weights. Endurance allows the lifter to do more reps as well. The standard is about two or three sets with 12 – 20 reps. In between sets, it is important to rest, no matter what type of exercise you are doing. For endurance, the weight should be lowered for each set.

Muscle Mass

As lifting increases, the work increases as well. It is much more moderate lifting when working on muscle mass. There is also more rest. The rest in between sets should be approximately a minute. Like before, there is only two or three sets. The reps in this category are between eight and 12.

Muscle Strength

Strength involves the most work. The heaviest weights are used to create much more strength. Once again, the sets are in two or three and lower in reps to between 6 and 8. The wait is much longer though. There is a three to five minute wait in order to allow the arms to recover.

Using the dumbbells or free weights in the Dixon Center is just one of the several different sets of equipment to use. With the proper education in what they are doing though, Riccio feels that just about any student should be going to use the facilities on campus.

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Ryan Mulloy

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