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Make the most of weight training

Picture this. You're in the gym, you're wearing your brand new workout gear, you've got your pre-workout drink, your lifting gloves are on and you've nailed the Blue Steel pose (OK, maybe not the last part).

But you're ready, you mean business, it's time to workout. Let's do this! But, hang on a second, what is ‘this' and what is it that you should actually be doing in the weights room?

I can't tell you the number of times I've been in a gym and observed people throwing around dumb bells and miscellaneous bits of gym equipment with terrible form.

This is not only a waste of precious time, as it is certainly not the quickest way to achieve results, but it is potentially dangerous, too, as your risk of injury is massively increased.

Weight training is not rocket science, but there are certain elements that need to be considered for you to make your workout effective.

Using correct form, picking an appropriate weight to lift and a suitable repetition and set range to complete, the tempo and speed at which to perform exercises, and implementing rest periods, are all important factors.

I am a stickler for form. The bottom line is, you cannot truly progress until you have perfected your form. So slow down and watch your self closely as you perform exercises. Ideally, use mirrors or, better still, have a qualified trainer guide you through and help you to make any corrections.

The sooner you can iron out bad habits, the sooner you will start working out more effectively and start seeing the results you are after.

Do not use too much weight too soon — yeah guys, I'm talking to you. This does not apply so much if you have been training for a while, but if you are new to lifting or just starting back after a (cough) extended break, then I do not recommend diving straight in at the deep end.

It takes a few sessions to figure out what weights you should be lifting. Be patient, go lower than your expected ability and gradually work your way up.

Picking a weight that is too heavy will likely compromise your form — you will start swinging and using momentum and it is at this point the potential for injury increases.

Not using enough weight is also a problem — yeah, ladies, I'm talking to you.

If you can easily perform 30 reps or feel like you are just going through the motions, chances are it is time to up the load. Try an increase of five per cent to make your progression manageable. If you are unsure, aim to lift a weight that by the third or second to last repetition of the set, it starts to feel difficult and the muscles are fatiguing. Weight training should feel challenging, so do not cheat yourself.

Other than form, my biggest bugbear is watching people rush through reps and sets without a care in the world.

I look at them and wonder what they are thinking about. They are probably daydreaming about dinner, or what's on TV, or trying to remember whether they left the washing out. Snap out of it!

Focus on the task at hand. I know that training may not be your favourite thing to do. I know you want to ‘zone out', but how about ‘zoning in' to what your body is doing instead.

Lifting weights is called resistance training for a good reason. You need to apply resistance and tension to your muscles to make them work.

Using your brain and consciously being aware of how you are moving will activate your muscles. So, again, slow down, focus on the muscles you are working in each specific exercise and apply tension by squeezing them. It should take between three and five seconds to complete one repetition through a complete range of motion when lifting with control.

“What about rest periods?” I hear you ask. Well, this can vary considerably depending on the type of training programme you are following, which body parts you are training, what you are lifting, and your level of fitness.

My general rule is to be honest with yourself, make sure your breathing has stabilised, have a sip of water and then ask yourself, ‘am I ready?' If so, then it's time to get stuck in again.

• Becky Wright is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional therapist and international bikini fitness champion. She has worked with various clients worldwide, including royalty. Becky works at Alchemy Fitness: www.alchemy.bm. Contact her at becky@alchemy.bm

Use correct form: Trainer Becky Wright advises slowing down and watching yourself in a mirror or have a qualified trainer guide you through exercises

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Published February 11, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated February 10, 2015 at 8:11 pm)

Make the most of weight training

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