If you want to build muscle, which pieces of gym equipment instantly spring to mind? Of course, we think of free weights in the form of dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and so on. Whilst machines certainly have their place in any home or commercial gym, there’s a great deal more functionality associated with free weights that we just can’t seem to emulate with machines.

If you’re clanging and banging in the gym, pumping iron several days each week but aren’t noticing any real improvements, it might be time to re-assess your training. Here are 4 tips for using free weights if muscle growth is your key objective.

Sale!

Benches and Storage

(9) Olympic Bar Holder

£110.00 £104.50
Sale!

Benches and Storage

10 Pair Dumbbell Tower

£185.00 £175.75
Sale!
£45.00 £42.75
Sale!
£340.00 £323.00
£6.00£8.00
Sale!
£90.00 £85.50
Sale!
£105.00 £99.75
Sale!
£3,800.00 £3,610.00
Sale!
£135.00 £128.25
Sale!

Benches and Storage

45 Degree Hyperextension Bench

£75.00 £71.25
Sale!
£70.00 £66.50
Sale!
£80.00 £76.00

Focus on your form

Far too many people that lift weights find themselves focussing on trying to lift heavy weights, rather than on executing perfect form. If you want to get the most out of your free weight training, it’s vital that you master your form. Begin with light weights and focus on perfect lifting technique. Never rock or bounce the weights to gain momentum, don’t lean back, don’t jerk your body, and don’t cheat. If you can’t perform the exercise without cheating, the weights you are using are too heavy. Read up on how to perform each exercise correctly, and be sure to check your form and posture in the mirror.

 

Don’t go too heavy

Not only will lifting heavy weights potentially affect your form, it may also put you at risk of injury. Ego-lifting in the gym is a definite no-no so don’t do it. Use weights that test you by all means, but if you’re lifting weights that are so heavy that you struggle to perform more than a couple of reps with good form, you’re training too heavy and you could injure yourself. Even if you don’t hurt yourself, if you are cheating to perform the exercise you won’t see or feel the benefit anyways. If you do train heavy, be sure to enlist the help of a spotter to help keep you safe.

 

Don’t drop weights on the floor

Forget what you see on Instagram and YouTube, when you finish a working set, always place weights on the floor or on the rack as carefully as you can. Never drop them. Dropping heavy weights on the floor will not only damage the floor, and the weights themselves, but you could even potentially hurt yourself if you drop the weight on your foot. As you were able to lift the weights when performing the exercise, surely you’ll also be able to lift them to place them down safely. Weights should only be dropped on the floor as a last resort if you can’t keep hold of them anymore.

 

Be careful when lifting free weights from the ground or rack

Did you know, that most free weight-related injuries don’t occur during a free weight exercise? Most injuries actually occur when people pick weights up from the floor or off of the rack. Usually these are back injuries and they can potentially be very painful. Always bend your legs when picking up a weight, and keep your back as straight as possible. Bending the back when lifting a weight plate or dumbbell is just asking for trouble.