Manual handling techniques – even at the gym

One of my favourite gym classes is Body Pump. A little about Body Pump – Body Pump is a set of choreographed exercises aimed at sculpting, toning and strengthening your body. It involves using different weights and lots of repetitive movements. Whenever I attend Body Pump, all I can think of is manual handling. My movements and squats are usually thoughtfully and “painfully” planned out. I can’t help it. I am a great believer of practice what you preach.

If you have ever received training in manual handling or maybe have some knowledge about manual handling techniques or deliver manual handling training like I do, then you will understand my dilemma.  Should I leave my skills at home at the risk of damaging my back? I have seen people in the gym with bad backs still lift ridiculously heavy weights. For fear of not having my lights punched out, I try really hard to mind my business but this sometimes proves difficult. Having a macho body is nice but will you kill yourself to have one?

Still want that buff body but want to do it right? Here’s are a few tips that will help you do your Body Pump safely but with no promise that the workouts will be much easier 😉

1. Listen to the fitness instructor. Too often the instructor instructs the class on how to lift and put down their weights but no one seems to pay attention to this especially when they can’t wait to get rid of those weights after some serious squats. I know just how you feel but a few more seconds can save you a great deal of pain.

Also, the instructor usually says to warm up with the smallest weight and build up gradually. He/she usually tells you when to triple, double or use warm-up weight. But believe me, people tend not to listen. Most people come in energized and start with very big weights but as the class progresses you see them using weights smaller than their warm-up weights! Why? Body Pump is not for the faint hearted and as the class goes on, you feel drained. For goodness sake, the class at my gym is a 1-hour class! Not using the right weights for the right body parts is dangerous and can cause injury. I tend to start with 2.5kg on each side and my heaviest is 7.5kg on each side so a total of 15kg which I use for large muscle groups. This is actually small compared to what my fellow exercisers lift.

2. Size and nature of the weight: The law does not require a safe maximum weight and there are varying degrees of risks. My advice is to lift only what you are confident with and able to lift safely without risk of you falling over. Don’t try to impress anyone. Truth be told, we secretly envy those who lift ridiculously heavy weights but our envy doesn’t last long when we see you struggling with it or taking long breaks in between workouts. With time, you will begin to feel pain and discomfort in your back. A smaller weight is easier to pick up and exercise with and presents lower risks but you might have to exercise more to get that buff body.

Sometimes even small weights can present risks if you do not lift them properly or use awkward positions when exercising. For example, when you have to work on your arms by lying on the bench, it is better to place the weight bar on your thighs before lying down. Please do not lie down and then twist to try to pick up the bar. It is dangerous and can cause you back problems.

3. Follow these simple rules when lifting/putting down your weight bar:

  1. Your body position is very important. Make sure you lift the weights in a stable and comfortable posture. Your feet should be apart (hip width not far apart that it makes you look like you are about to do a split) with one feet slightly in front of the other. Bend your knees with your back as straight as possible. Bending over, with your knees straight could result in you having a slipped disc. Once it is lifted, you can return to the body position needed for a particular workout. 
  2. If lifting the bar onto your shoulder, make sure you bend your knees slightly as you lift the bar onto your shoulder. Remember if the weight proves too heavy as you go along, you are free to reduce it slightly. Also take short breaks if you need to. I witnessed someone faint after a workout probably due to putting too much into the exercise or not eating well.
  3. Avoid sudden or jerky movements. Don’t twist or make awkward manoeuvres.
  4. When putting down the weight, reverse the lifting procedure and remember to bend your knees. Try not to throw the weight down ;-).

4. Drink loads of water as you exercise so you don’t tire easily or get dehydrated. I am on your side and support body pump a hundred percent. It is good to have up to a litre of water during and after your class.

5. And lastly, please don’t do Body Pump or tough exercises everyday! Your body needs time to heal after a tough workout. Try swimming or pamper yourself in the sauna or steam room on your “off body pump day”.

Here is an interesting article on Body Pump and associated problems. This combined with my article will give you great ideas on how to keep loving Body Pump and doing it safely.

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