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The Seven Most Dangerous Common Weight-Lifting Exercises and How to Do Them Properly

Weight training is an important part of a comprehensive exercise program, helping you to increase your muscle tone and mass, lose body fat, improve your strength and even improve your bone density.

But by its very nature, weight lifting, which calls for placing extra weight, or stress, on your muscles to receive the benefits, can cause injury if it's not done with the proper technique.

weight training

If you're just starting out in weight training, you may want to enlist the help of a personal trainer to help you learn the proper techniques (and avoid injury).

Most people learn their weight training techniques by watching friends or others in the gym. Often, this can be problematic because you may be picking up incorrect techniques. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, using improper technique is one of the main reasons why people get injured during weight training. Common injuries that can occur immediately include:

  • Sprains and strains

  • Tendinitis

  • Fractures

  • Dislocations

However, if you continue to use incorrect weight training techniques, over time you may end up with a chronic problem, such as:

  • Damage to your rotator cuff

  • Nerve damage

  • Muscle overload

  • Stress injuries to your bones

Be Careful When Doing These Common Weight-Lifting Exercises

If you are just starting out in weight training, you may want to get the help of a personal trainer or other fitness expert who can teach you the correct techniques from the get-go.

Here we've listed some of the most common weight-training exercises out there, which are also those that you'll often see being done incorrectly in your local gym. Before your next workout, make sure you're not putting yourself at risk of injury by honing up on these common weight-training exercise tips.

1. Bench Press

The bench press helps to tone and build your chest muscles, but if done incorrectly can cause damage to your rotator cuff and shoulders. (And without a spotter it can result in a serious or even deadly crushing injury!)

Correct Technique: To keep your shoulder joint free from injury, keep your elbows at the horizontal line of your body (do not let them drop down below your body line). And of course, always use a spotter who can help you if the weight gets too heavy.

2. Leg Extension

The leg extension works the quadricep muscle (on the front of the thigh). The major injury risk is in extending your leg too fast or too hard, which can cause you to overextend your knee.

Correct Technique: Protect your knees during the leg extension by keeping a 90-degree angle between the thigh and lower leg, then extending your leg smoothly. Do not "kick" your leg out or lock the knees when they're extended, as this can cause excessive stress on the knees.

weight training

When doing any type of weight-lifting exercise, always use smooth, slow movements. If you jerk the weight up or down it increases your risk of injury and gives you a less effective workout.

3. Lat Pull-Down

Lat pull-downs work a muscle called the latissimius dorsi, which is located in the outer chest wall. If done incorrectly, this exercise can cause injury to the neck and shoulders.

Correct Technique: You have probably seen people in the gym doing a lat pull-down by gripping the bar widely, then pulling it down behind the neck. This is incorrect, as it places excess stress on the neck and shoulders. The safer and more effective technique is to use a narrower grip on the bar, and pull it down to the front of the chest while keeping your back straight.

4. Biceps Curl

The biceps curl helps to strengthen and build the biceps (located in the front of the upper arm). This exercise poses a risk of injury to your elbows if done incorrectly.

Correct Technique: While doing a bicep curl, always keep your wrist straight and rigid. If you flex your wrist while you bend your elbow it can cause injury to your elbow. Also be sure to release the curl smoothly to avoid overextending your elbow.

5. Dead Lift

The dead lift can help to strengthen your lower back, hamstrings, gluts and calves. If done incorrectly, however, it can strain the back.

Correct Technique: Bend forward at the waist with your arms straight toward the floor. Be sure to keep a natural curve in your lower back and a slight bend in the knees to protect your back and avoid overextending your knees.

6. Squats

Squats help to tone your gluts, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. However, if you squat too far or don't have your weight centered correctly, it can cause injury to the knees.

Correct Technique: Lower your body as if you're going to sit in a chair, keeping your weight over the heels or mid-foot area. Lower to about a 90-degree angle, no farther, then slowly raise your body back to a standing position.

7. Leg Press

The leg press works the front and back of the thighs, the calves and the buttocks, but can cause injury to the knees if the proper technique is not used.

Correct Technique: As you press your legs out, make sure the kneecap follows the foot (don't allow your knees to come too close together) and the thighs do not drop below a 90-degree angle to the knees. Both of these tips will help protect your knees from injury.

Recommended Reading

The Best and Worst Exercises for Your Abs

What to do AFTER a Workout to Get Maximum Benefit From Your Exercise


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