There are so many health and fitness benefits that can be achieved from weight lifting. Sensible weight lifting involves precise, controlled movements specifically targeted at training one or more muscle groups. But what happens when the weights start getting quite heavy? Is heavy weight lifting safe? Maybe. It isn’t just a straightforward answer, sorry. The answer depends on lots of factors. Before we try to settle on this debate let’s make it clear that today we are talking about ‘light’ versus ‘heavy’ not ‘free weights’ versus ‘machines’.
So, what is ‘heavy’? Heavy will be dependent on the client’s ability. It will also depend on who is defining it. But for today’s view let’s say it’s a load that you can only lift between 1 and 6 times (or maybe slightly more). For some people this can be too much to handle, at least initially. Heavy weight training means that the client is going to find it more difficult to maintain exercise technique. There is more chance of the client ‘cheating’ to get the exercise complete. For example, they will swing their body and arms during a bicep curl to lift the load into a flexed position. In this case the client is using momentum to assist with lifting the load. It’s possible then that the muscles, joints and supporting structures are not well prepared for this lift and injury risk is higher.
Weight lifting can be awesome for back strengthening to help support the spine. But heavier loads place greater strains on posture and technique demands. Clients that are asked to lift heavy weights must be well trained and prepared for the lift they are about to attempt. Personal Trainers need to have a solid understanding of biomechanics and anatomical demands placed on the body during heavy lifts. Without this it is very easy to dangerously overload the client with loads where they simply cannot maintain their technique. Weaker muscles, and tendons and ligaments can fail and tear. The problem can be that one muscle group can be strong but smaller muscles or stabilising muscles may not be appropriately prepared. Let’s take the barbell squat for example. The client may have really strong legs but their back is relatively weak. It’s more likely that they will strain their back than their legs despite the fact that the squat is primarily targeted at leg and glute training! Great Personal Trainers are required to make sure that clients are progressed at the appropriate rate with awesome technique.
This really depends on what your goals are. There will be different weights for each individual and what they aim to get out of the work out. As a general rule:
As you get tired during your workout, you will find that your energy will start to decrease. This is why you should start with the most difficult and heaviest exercises early on. Of course, remembering to warm up is very important to avoid injuries. Logging your results and weights with each workout will help you to guide your future workouts and understand where you can improve and what you are currently capable of.
Tips to minimise the injury risk