Health & Fitness

Dark side of using homemade weights

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Shadrack Oracha. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NMG

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Summary

  • Exercising at home is one of the most convenient and economical ways of staying in shape.
  • When the pandemic hit, many fitness enthusiasts were forced to reimagine how they could keep in shape.
  • This pushed up the prices of gym equipment and lead to a shortage.
  • Many opted for a makeshift gym.

Exercising at home is one of the most convenient and economical ways of staying in shape. When the pandemic hit, many fitness enthusiasts were forced to reimagine how they could keep in shape.

This pushed up the prices of gym equipment and lead to a shortage.

Many opted for a makeshift gym.

Although it is cheap, having a makeshift gym is fraught with risks and disadvantages if one opts to use home-made equipment.

Improvising exercise equipment like dumbbells and barbells using cement, big bottles or sand/concrete-filled containers has undesirable outcomes. These homemade weights can even lead to life-threatening problems. This is because the materials used are not standardised.

Caleb Atemi, a fitness, and martial arts trainer, says that some of the home-made weights carry with them permanent damage to the body as there is no accuracy of the exact weight in each container.

Eventually, this will lead to imbalanced weights which can lead to irreparable damage to body muscles.

Asymmetrical or imbalanced body formation/development

The use of home-made weights, Mr Atemi points out, can lead to uneven growth of muscles, where a person is burly with big shoulders and chest but thin legs.

The upper torso will be well-sculptured while the legs will be made of clay with no stamina as the weights cannot properly work every muscle of the body.

Fitness trainer Masiga Siga of Siga Fit explains that asymmetrical body development is a result of exercising with weights that are not properly weighted and even if they were balanced, they have lost some kilos through wear and tear. 

This is in addition to most of the people using them concentrating on chest, shoulder and biceps workouts as opposed to total body workout leading to other muscles of the body being starved of exercise.

Injuries

Fredrick Lugongo of Das Bayern fitness training centre using home-made weights can lead to bad posture or even injuries including lower back pain, bent shoulders or collarbone as well as the spinal cord.

Using the substandard home-made benches made of timber can result in injuries as they can break or collapse at any time, adds Masiga.

Paralysis

Lugongo states that uneven weights can lead to damage to the sciatic nerves, a major nerve extending from the lower end of the spinal cord down the back of the thigh and buttocks and each leg.

In the long term, it can lead to paralysis. “You must be sure of the weight you are carrying on the left is equal to that on the right,” adds Masiga.

Academic posture

This is a posture where either the left or the right shoulder is more muscular than the other depending on which hand is stronger, leading to an individual leaning to one side.

Atemi explains that this is because there is a tendency by all people that if the left hand is stronger than the right, then one finds himself or herself doing more with the stronger hand.

“To avoid this, switch the weights to ensure there is balance. Do 15 reps then switch the dumbbell or barbell to avoid uneven muscle growth,” he says.

Masiga explains that the imbalanced weights can weaken the core muscles holding together the spinal cord leading to posture complications, a condition known as lordosis.

This is a condition where the spinal cord is unusually curved inward on the lower back, just above the buttocks. “There is a normal way the spine is supposed to look and the moment the core muscles having the spine in place are weakened, then you are likely to lose the right posture,” he avers.

Might not reach your objective

Due to the use of substandard equipment coupled with a lack of professional guidance to infuse proper training techniques, there is a possibility of an individual failing to reach their fitness goals.

“The use of substandard equipment which cannot isolate specific muscles during training is a recipe for failing to hit set targets,” Masiga says.

Solution

Masiga advises that an individual should strive to always use the right workout equipment for the right workout.
Atemi, on the other hand, says there are no two ways about it. People must only use weights made and designed by reputable companies and if one must use the home-made weights then they must make sure the composition used will ensure there is balance.