Written by: Britt Jonat, RMT

1. Warm up.

Activate the muscles, nervous system and lubricate your joints by doing some dynamic movements. Think air squats, walking lunges, bodyweight or light dumbbell (2 – 5lbs) exercises. Research has shown that not only can a proper warm up involving moderate to high intensity dynamic movements reduce injury risk but can also increase muscle power.

2. Stay neutral.

Focus on maintaining a neutral spine in all movements by ensuring your abdominals are engaged properly and the shoulders aren’t rounded forward will not only most likely help you lift more but will save your back from injury. To find a neutral position place a PVC pipe, wood dowel or even a broomstick on your back…now only the center of the back of your head, upper back (between the shoulder blades) and sacrum (butt) should be in contact. You should be able to slide a hand in the space between your glutes and mid back and your chin should be parallel with the ground.

3. Use proper form.

When performing an exercise make sure you really know what it should look like, try it a few times with little to no weight and check your form either in the mirror or with a video. Before adding weight and starting your working sets ensure you know what the exercise feels like when done correctly. Avoid turning your head to check form or to make sure your biceps look as big as you think they do while lifting heavy. This puts unnecesarry strain on your spine and can lead to injury. If you are unsure of what an exercise should look like try youtube but make sure you watch a reputable source such as Candito Training HQ or Bodybuilding.com