Weightlifting: A love-hate relationship

3 June 2021

Written by: Peter White

The biggest mistake made in gyms are exercises done with incorrect form.

Exercise is something that some people enjoy doing and there is no doubt that there are a lot of options out there to keep yourself fit and healthy. But the dangers and risks associated with one particular form of exercise can’t be ignored.

Essentially, you’re fighting the laws of gravity to lift heavy weights which could often lead to serious injuries and in serious cases, even death. This was the case for a 15-year-old boy that got stuck on a weightlifting bench at a Brisbane gym under a bar loaded with 100 kg pushing against his upper neck and throat.

“The big danger is not knowing how the movement is supposed to look, what it’s supposed to feel like, or you don’t have someone looking over what you’re doing,” Mark Ottobre, Personal Trainer and Founder of Enterprise Fitness tells upstart.

There are various pieces of gym equipment and exercises which can lead to serious injuries. Ottobre explains that the machines are the safer option, rather than the free weights, because you have more control on a machine.

“Machines are really straight forward. ‘Sit here, push this lever’, it kind of dumbs it down and removes the stabilising muscles from your exercise,” he says.

One of the most potentially dangerous exercises for the inexperienced gymgoer, is the deadlift. It activates almost every muscle in the body and requires near perfect form, otherwise you risk causing irreversible damage to your body.

“The deadlift looks simple, but there’s so many muscles, so many movements. It requires stability, good form and body awareness,” Ottobre says. “Understanding where your body should be, how to set up, how to pull through the movement.”

Ottobre says flexibility and mobility are also two very important aspects of weightlifting, and they determine whether someone has the ability to perform a certain exercise.

“Flexibility is having the strength through the range of motion,” he says. “You can have the guy who can squat 300 kilos but can’t touch his toes. You want to develop strength to the full range of motion, that’s going to minimise the risk of injury.”

Senior sports scientist at Sydney University of Technology Katie Slattery says sometimes the risks are much greater than the reward. It’s important to listen to your body and make the right choices so you don’t hurt yourself so you can’t exercise, or potentially do permanent damage to your body.

“You can do too much when you continue exercising and ignore a little injury nibble or a sign of sickness,” she tells upstart.

“It’s better to have an easy day today and recover well, rather than having to have two months out because you’ve given yourself a musculoskeletal injury.”

Slattery suggests keeping a training diary which may help in avoiding injuries and allow you to keep exercising and training. She also mentions some key factors to look out for which may lead to overworking yourself.

“Times where either your performance is not improving or you’re feeling sick a lot – they’re your red flags,” she says. “You can take your resting heart rate every morning, and if that’s really elevated, that’s a sign that your body’s under a bit of stress.

“If things are hurting for more than a few days in a row, it’s usually time to go see a professional.”

Article: Peter White is a third-year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Media Industries) student. You can follow him on Twitter @peterwhite0

Photo: Black and blue dumbbell on brown wooden floor by Luis Vidal available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.