how to lift weights safely and prevent injury

Knowledge Prevents Injury
You can avoid injury by using a cautious and knowledgeable approach to weight training exercise. Your technique—your form and how you perform the exercise—is crucial to minimizing injury. So are judgments about the type of exercise and the load you attempt to lift, push or press, especially in relation to your existing fitness, strength, bone and muscle health, and injury status.

Let’s go through the most important performance safety issues in weight training, bearing in mind that “safety” can be a relative term; what’s dangerous for you may not be dangerous for someone with more experience, training or different body structure.

Beginners Versus Experienced Weight Trainers
When you exercise over time, the body builds strength, endurance, bulk and even flexibility and durability in tendons, ligaments, and muscles. This progressive adaptation is called a “training effect,” and it’s one reason why you are encouraged to train regularly, consistently and with only gradual increases in intensity, load or time.

If you have been weight training for a long time, you are likely to be able to do exercises of greater complexity, and perhaps greater risk, than a beginner.

Much of the information below is for beginners.

Your Flexibility and Anatomy
Whether you can perform a particular exercise safely may depend on your existing bone and muscle structure, either inherent or as a consequence of past injury or accident.

For example, I don’t barbell squat with the weight on the shoulders or do pulldowns with the bar behind the head. Even a slight rotation of the shoulder in this direction is uncomfortable and probably dangerous for me, as I have had rotator cuff injuries to both shoulders.

Be aware of positions, exercise types and loads that make you feel you are extending joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons too far beyond your natural range. Alternative exercises that work the same muscles often exist. Challenge yourself, but use common sense.