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Lifting Weights? The 6 Things You Must Do

train smart

A while ago I sought out a fitness pro to help me reboot my workout. After a couple of months I came away with a renewed enthusiasm for exercise and a slew of tips. For newbies and the seasoned veteran alike, these takeaways stand the test of time and help you to train smart.

1. Posture first.

Before you pick up that weight and dive into your first set, take a moment to align the spine and engage the core. Stand tall, roll your shoulders back and broaden your chest; engage your abs to protect your back and lightly squeeze your glutes. You are now officially in correct posture and ready to take on the world, or at least your workout. Poor posture and misalignment of the spine can negatively affect your range of motion and create muscle fatigue or worse, injury.

2. Bend at the knees.

It doesn’t matter if the target in question is your cell phone, your water bottle or a set of heavy dumbbells — use your knees to bend when you retrieve an object off of the floor. Bent knees keep the back aligned and supported. Backaches are the result of overworking the muscles of the back and can be a chronic source of discomfort. Create the habit now and protect yourself in and out of the gym.

3. Respect the forearms.

Like Rodney Dangerfield, the forearms get no respect! They aren’t particularly sexy and rank low on the list of physique “trouble spots,” so most exercise plans fail to include them. Strong forearms provide stability and offer grip strength. Exercises like the pull-up and the deadlift get easier if you don’t rely solely on your grip. You don’t need heavy weight to work the forearms; grab some light dumbbells and knock out a few sets of wrist curls while you watch TV.

4. Speaking of wrists.

The wrists are big babies and we need to protect them at all costs. Maintain proper form and keep those wrists stick straight when performing exercises such as the bench press, straight bar curl or lateral raise. A bent wrist will limit your lifting ability and give out before the working muscle. Wrist flexion exercises will help keep wrists strong, pain free and in tip-top working order.

5. Avoid the tightrope lunge.

Don’t lunge like you are walking on a 2 by 4. A wider step involves all the muscles of the hip (more bang for your lunge buck) and is easier on the knee joint. It’s not dramatic; as you step forward move your foot out approximately 6 inches.

6. Focus forward.

Many lifters habitually tilt their head back when performing a heavy squat in an attempt to keep their back erect and their shoulders from rounding forward. For safety, squats should be performed with a neutral spine. Keep your focus on your own eyes if you are facing a mirror or straight ahead, not up, to keep the spine correctly aligned. Lighten the load or only partially squat if you can’t keep good form without tweaking your neck.

Engage your brain before you engage any of your muscles! It’s easy to fall into bad habits or forego form to surpass an old personal record. Train hard, but train smart!

What is your favorite training tip? —Karen

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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22 Comments
  1. Rachael says:

    Amazing tips but need some help, I do squat with proper technique but my back hurts sometime. Is there any way to fight my back pain?

    1. Jenn says:

      Hi Rachael,

      A lot goes into squat form! We recommend meeting with a personal trainer or physical therapist if you’ve got pain, but check out these tips for proper squat form. They might help! https://fitbottomedgirls.com/2016/05/the-dos-and-donts-of-proper-squat-form/

      —FBG Jenn

  2. Tammie says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing

  3. Jenn says:

    Enjoyed the post!

    I feel like a lot of people forget about watching their wrists and other muscles groups.
    People try to lift to heavy and forget about the possibilities of hurting themselves!!

    -Jenn
    http://bit.ly/2aM8rwM

  4. It’s really important to do lifting or any other exercise in a proper way. These tips are really helpful to do lifting appropriately. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hantle says:

    Nice tips and great piece of writing – as always. Thanks! To be honest I always forget to bend the knees. Hope it will change soon ;).

  6. Do you want to be a lift weighter. It is simple if you note 6 above things and do follow them.

  7. Andy says:

    Strong girls lift heavy! That’s my favorite training tip. 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing these tips, they are really helpful.
    By the way, I suppose that not only back or arms but also legs are important in weightlifting. Could you give some advice to strengthen the legs and avoid injury?

    1. Jenn says:

      Hi Michael,

      Check out this post on squats and proper form. Definitely helps to strengthen the legs and prevent injury! 🙂 https://fitbottomedgirls.com/2016/05/the-dos-and-donts-of-proper-squat-form/

      —FBG Jenn

  9. I think lifting weight is not my type of sport I would try someday, I would like yoga or gym

  10. Michael says:

    I am a thin woman and I wish I have a steady wrist and well muscle. I think Lifting Weights is good ideal and I will note these 6 things for my exercise .

  11. Thanks for your great tips! There are so many things that I forget! I will share this to my friend! We are doing workout together and this is gold for us.

  12. Mateusz says:

    Good content! Cheers.

  13. Great article. Thank you for sharing. It is really helpful

  14. Charles says:

    Very useful! I will send it to my friend

  15. Golisa says:

    I have just begun lifting, read your post to know more tips. Many thanks.

  16. Mary says:

    I’m sure it’s need to know all the steps or tips before performing lifting , so your post is great and useful. Thanks.

  17. Danni says:

    Thanks for the amazing advice especially “Avoid the tightrope lunge”. This one I must apply…Thanks!

  18. J.West says:

    Thank You very much for great info. My girlfriend will like this!

  19. James Wood says:

    I finally got a chance to try this out and I loved it. The post was really nice and effective. Everyone else who had a hard work loved it too! I’ll definitely follow these things all time! Thanks for sharing.