Weight Training Basics

Get stronger and stay injury-free

By Elaine Zablocki
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD

Brad Gillingham is an experienced weightlifter. In fact, he's an International Power Lifting Federation world champion. His best lifts in competition have been 832 pounds in the squat, 611 pounds in the bench press, and 843 pounds in the deadlift.

But even a champion like Gillingham has to cope with injuries due to carelessness in the gym or slacking off on warm-ups. Last winter, for instance, he developed a strain in his lower back.

"One of the guys in the gym didn't put the weights away properly," he recalls. "As I came down from my lift I hit the loose weight and jarred my back."

Earlier, he developed a similar injury because he was in a hurry. "I've learned from my own mistakes," he says. "When you're running late, it's real easy to cut your warm-up time, and I've developed injuries when I didn't warm up properly."

Weight-Training Injuries on the Rise

The same principles apply just as much to everyday athletes who work out in the local gym or at home, says Chester S. Jones, PhD, associate professor of health sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. In a review of data from U.S. emergency rooms, he found injuries from weight-training activities and equipment have increased 35% over a 20-year period. The hand was injured most often, followed by the upper trunk, head, lower trunk, and foot.