If you want to improve your fitness and strength, lifting free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells is one of the more effective ways of achieving your goals. Lifting weights burns away calories to keep you fit and healthy. It increases the size of your muscles and improves your endurance and strength. It also improves your bone density and in general enhances the overall quality of life.
However, you need to do some proper research if you aren’t well-versed in the use of these weights, and especially if you’ve never used free weights, dumbbells or kettlebell weights before. You have to learn the proper technique to gain the maximum benefits, and you need to be aware of the safety considerations in order to prevent any injuries.
“Free” in the term “free weights” refers to the fact that they don’t restrict movement in contrast to weight machines. The lack of restriction in your movement enables you to build your strength more effectively, but it also dramatically increases the risk of getting yourself injured.
Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Pay special attention when you pick up and replace the weights, as the majority of the accidents involving these weights happen when they fall out of your hands or when they weren’t secured properly.
- Make sure you have a firm grip.
- Keep a stable and steady position when you’re standing or sitting during your workout.
- If possible, get some instructions from a professional. Do some research as well so that you are familiar with the proper forms and techniques used in lifting weights.
How to Buy Free Weights
If you don’t want to go to a gym regularly in order to use these weights, you can buy your own weights. The factors that you need to keep in mind include:
- Quality and durability. In general, these weights aren’t so easily damaged. Set a budget in place, and buy the weights in the quality that corresponds to how often you’ll use them. If you plan to use them extensively and for a long time to come, it may be wise to invest in a high quality product.
Remember to check that the size of the handles fit your hands comfortably for a firm grip. The weights should also be not to be too light, as that would make them virtually useless; or too heavy, as that can do some serious injury.
- Assembly requirements. Some weights are adjustable, although you may find it just a tad time-consuming and inconvenient when you have to constantly pause to adjust the weights for different exercises or as you increase your strength. Other kits may be composed of weights set at specific weights.
- Space requirements. Make sure you have enough space in which you can use these weights freely. You also need to check that you have enough space to store them. You can just place them on the floor, or you can purchase special racks especially made for these weights.
- Maintenance requirements. Some materials need more care than others, so make sure that you know how to take care of the weights you are planning to buy.
Proper Techniques for Using Free Weights
These weights can develop muscle fitness depending on how you use them. Whatever exercise you wish to perform, here are some tips to make sure you get the maximum benefits with the least possibility of injury.
- The importance of proper technique cannot be overstated, so make sure you know the right technique for each exercise before you begin.
- Use your legs and not your back to lift weights from the floor.
- Keep your spine straight when you do your exercises.
- Many exercises require you to do more than one set. Take a couple of minutes to rest in between sets—it should be long enough for you to catch your breath.
- Remember to exercise both sides of your body. If one exercise focuses on the front of your body, follow it with an exercise for the back.
- When performing each exercise, extend your joints through the full range of motion.
- Keep your movements controlled and deliberate. Never allow momentum to move the weight for you, as that can have disastrous results should you accidentally let go of the weight.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Inhale at the point when the exercise is at its easiest, and exhale at the point of the greatest difficulty.
- If possible, have a spotter help you. The spotter can critique your technique and offer assistance should the weights become too unmanageable. This is especially critical for very heavy weights.