In order to gain optimal benefits from your strength training, a few simple "rules" should be followed each time you exercise. Keep these in mind as you go through your next weight workout. It is always best to ask for help from a fitness professional if you have any questions or are unsure how to set or use a machine.
1. Check your form! Proper body alignment is important to safe lifting technique. Good posture = head aligned with shoulders & hips, shoulders back and down (and relaxed), abdomen in.
2. Remember to adjust your seat to the proper height which should be given to you during your first orientation to weight machines. Maintain proper posture throughout each repetition. Do NOT arch your body to achieve a greater lift.
3. Exhale upon exertion for each repetition. Do NOT hold your breath throughout the set. For those who have a tendency to hold their breath, counting each repetition out loud is a good way to assure proper breathing.
4. Avoid locking out joints (knees and elbows). Extend fully, but do not lock your joint.
5. Even worse, NEVER add resistance while supporting the weight. Add resistance only before exerting force on the weight.
6. Jerkiness during the second half of a repetition (the lowering phase) indicates the use of excessive resistance. Reduce the resistance if this happens.
7. In order to protect your muscles, joints and connective tissue, always move throughout each repetition in a SMOOTH and CONTROLLED fashion. Never "jerk" or use swinging motions (momentum).
8. Do not "lift" with the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Either work the entire body every other day or split the muscle groups up and alternate groups if working with weights on consecutive days. Aerobic (cardiovascular) work can be done every day! So can abdominal/core work.
9. Vary your program occasionally to prevent plateauing. You can vary the order of the machines and change the intensity by trying more pounds/less reps or less pounds/more reps.
10. Remember to warm up your muscles BEFORE working out and stretch your muscles completely AFTER working out.