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Get the do's and don'ts of lifting weights

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Lifting weights properly makes for a stronger body, but have you ever seen anyone at the gym swinging and jerking the weights? Experts say you might get a little benefit, but you're actually hurting more than you're helping. Here are some proper moves to keep you injury-free and maximize your results."Great form is huge and form, like I said, encompasses more than just a motion, it's also like your pace," said personal trainer Robert Marting.

Marting says the right groove is as important as posture and stance when working muscles.

"You should never under any circumstances bounce with weight training either because you can tear the muscle too," said Marting.

At Elevation in West Hollywood, Marting's client demonstrated do's and don'ts when targeting major muscle groups; starting with squats.

"He's hunching his back way over so he's putting his weight way in front of him, which is a big no no because you can really pull your back," said Marting.

Allowing knees to go over toes is also a don't when lifting weights as it puts immense strain on the toes and doesn't work glutes, the intended target, effectively.

Instead, picture your body sitting back into a chair and then standing up again. This helps keep the back straight and the weight in the heels rather than knees.

There's a similar correction when it comes to lunges. Pushing forward when lunging puts an enormous load on the front knee, which takes away from the intended thighs and buns.

Instead check to ensure the knee is parallel to the foot, not beyond it.

Those with tight hamstrings generally round their back when performing a dead lift, which is designed to work buns and hamstrings. Doing so hurts the back.

But with slightly bent knees and a straight back the energy is placed on the backside where it should be.

On a chest press think about keeping weights straight on the press as if holding a bar, don't curl inward. On the return, allow elbows to pull back rather than close to the body to stretch the chest open.

When working shoulders -- like when doing a lateral raise -- flinging, swinging and thrusting the head forward causes stress on neck and upper back. Instead, you want to keep your arms straight and then tip at the top almost like a pitcher of water.

As you bend over at the waist from tricep "kickbacks," pull the shoulder directly behind the body with the elbow elevated as high as possible and extend from there in a moderate fashion. Incorrectly, many like to keep the elbow low and kick back quickly, which does little for the muscle.

If working the tricep in an "overhead raise," attempt to keep the elbows close to the head when lowering and raising the weight behind the head. It is also important not to work from the wrist and flip the weight up when you lift the weight overhead. Make a mental note to relax the shoulders to keep them from hunching up to the ears when doing this exercise.

Marting offers a series of DVDs on form for $19.95 each.