Swinging can really ruin your workouts, and no, I'm not talking about your sex life...I mean swinging the weights!
Obviously, for kettlebell workouts, there are times when swinging the weights is part of an exercise, but for things such as bicep curls or tricep raises it is basically cheating, and will ruin your workout.
We all look for easier ways to get things done to make life that little bit simpler, but when it comes to workouts; if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.
Many people aren't even aware they are doing this though; when you are lifting weights it is easy to slip into the habit of using your body to help as you can often find yourself gaining momentum. Although momentum is great for something like running, or rowing, it's actually counterproductive for weight lifting as you won't be working the intended muscle group as well as you had hoped.
Momentum takes the strain away from lifting the weight as physics takes over, and, although you do still have to work to lift the weight, the swinging motion helps tremendously. Meaning that you aren't working your muscles as much, which basically means that you won't get the results you want.
Lifting weights involves two phases: a concentric (contracting) move, and an eccentric (stretch) phase. "Building momentum by swinging your arms when doing a move like a bicep curl or a tricep push-down sacrifices results by not controlling the eccentric phase, and also increases your risk of injury," says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist and founder of STEPS Fitness, a science-based fitness facility in Nashville, Tennessee.
If you want to increase your strength (and build muscle) then using proper form is essential. Although you will be able to lift heavier weights by using momentum to your advantage, it won't give you better results. It would actually be more beneficial to lift a lighter weight and not use the swinging motion.
Focus on your form when you are next working out, and check if you are using momentum to aid your lifting. If you are then simply slow down the lifting process and, if necessary, use lighter weights. I know that will be a big knock to the ego, but wouldn't you prefer to know you are lifting 30lbs correctly, rather than lifting 40lbs through cheating!?
By lifting the weight slowly you are ensuring that your muscles are doing all of the work. It also allows you to check that you retain the correct form throughout, meaning that you will not only reap the benefits, but also minimise the risk of injury.
Although I refer to is as cheating, many people aren't even aware that they are using momentum to lift weights, so it's often unintentional; it's only natural for your body to want to take the easy route. But with exercising, you will only see results if you work hard.
If you have never tried weight lifting before, check out my article on why women should try weight lifting
and check out my blog