Weight Training: Dos and Don’ts for Proper Technique

For weight training to be effective, proper technique must be applied. Follow these do’s and don’ts to maximize your weight training program.


You don’t have to be a professional bodybuilder or athlete to reap the benefits of weight training. If done correctly, weight training will help you lose fat, increase your strength and muscle tone, and improve your bone density. However, if you don’t do it right, weight training won’t give you those benefits and can even lead to injury.

Control your technique

You could learn weight training techniques by watching your friends or other people in the gym, but sometimes what you see isn’t safe. Improper weightlifting technique can lead to sprains, strains, fractures, and other painful injuries that can hamper your weightlifting effort.

If you’re just starting out, work with a knowledgeable weight training specialist: a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or other fitness specialist who’s familiar with proper weight training technique. If you’ve been using weights for a while, consider seeing a trainer to check your technique and identify any changes you need to make.

Weight Training Tips

When you’re training with weights, do the following:

Lift an appropriate weight. Start with a weight that you can comfortably lift 12 to 15 times.

For most people, a single set of 12 to 15 repetitions with enough weight to tire the muscles can build strength effectively and be just as effective as three sets of the same exercise. As you gain strength, gradually increase the amount of weight.

Take the correct shape in your body. Learn to do each exercise correctly. When lifting weights, use the full range of motion of your joints. The better you perform the exercises, the better your results and the less likely you are to injure yourself. If you can’t do them correctly, decrease the weight or the number of repetitions. Remember that maintaining proper body shape is important even as you pick up and replace weights off the racks.

If you’re not sure if you’re doing a particular exercise correctly, ask a personal trainer or other fitness specialist for help.

Breathe. You might be tempted to hold your breath while lifting weights. Don’t hold your breath. Instead, exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.
Look for balance. It works all the major muscles, including the abdomen, hips, legs, chest, back, shoulders, and arms. Strengthens opposing muscles in a balanced way, for example, the front and back of the arms.
Include muscle strengthening in your exercise routine. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends incorporating strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups into your training routine at least twice a week.
Rest. Avoid exercising the same muscles two days in a row. You can work all major muscle groups in one session two or three times a week, or plan daily sessions for specific muscle groups. For example, you might work your arms and shoulders on Monday, your legs on Tuesday, and so on.

What not to do when training with weights

Follow these tips to avoid common weight training mistakes:

Don’t skip the warm-up. Cold muscles are more likely to be injured than warm muscles. Before lifting weights, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking or another aerobic activity.
Do not hurry. Move the weights in a slow and controlled manner. Doing this slowly will help isolate the muscles you want to work and prevent you from using momentum to lift the weights. Rest about a minute between exercises.
Don’t push yourself too hard. For most people, completing a set of exercises to fatigue is usually enough. Additional sets can take longer and cause overuse injuries. However, the number of sets you perform may vary depending on your exercise goals.
Don’t ignore the pain. If an exercise causes you pain, stop doing it. Try the exercise again in a few days, and try doing it with less weight.
Don’t forget the shoes. Shoes that protect your feet and provide adequate traction can prevent you from slipping or injuring your feet while lifting weights.
Remember that the more you focus on proper weight training technique, the better results you will get from your weight training program.