If the thought of sitting at a desk all day has never appealed to you, then a career in welding could be a great fit.
One reason being: welding is an active job.
Moving around throughout the day has many health benefits. Did you know an active job could help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes?
But a welding gig will have you on your feet frequently and sometimes require you to lift heavy objects or work in awkward positions, so it’s important to stay fit and weld ergonomically.
Physical jobs require physical fitness. Only exercises can keep the muscles you use on this job strong and resilient.
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Why Welders Need to Stay in Shape
Physical stamina and strength are among the important qualities that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states welders need.
Stamina is vital because welders need to be able to endure long stints of standing and performing repetitious movements. The metal pieces and parts they lift can be heavy, which requires strength. Flexibility is also important because their work sometimes requires them to reach, bend and stoop.
Cardiovascular exercises, strength training and stretching can help welders in all of these areas.
Running or other workouts that get the heart rate up can improve stamina.
Lifting weights and strength training helps build strong muscles to lift heavy equipment with.
Stretching reduces the risk of injury and makes for better flexibility, balance and coordination.
Working out won’t only make you a better welder, you’ll also feel and look great, whether you’re on the shop floor or out and about with friends on your day off.
4 Exercises to Make You a Stronger Welder
Try swimming, cycling or running every other day or at least twice a week.
These workouts can keep your lungs and heart healthy and lengthen your endurance for those long days in the shop. They also tend to burn a lot of calories, which can help with weight control.
2. Straight Crunches
A strong core is essential to being able to weld in all positions.
Strengthen the straight stomach muscles with crunches. Lay on your back with your knees up at a 90° angle and heels hip-width apart. Place your hands lightly behind your head, with elbows pointed outwards.
Lift your upper back off the ground, leaving the lower portion on the floor. Hold in a curled position for two seconds before rolling back to the floor. Make sure to breathe.
Perform three sets of 15-20 reps three days a week.
3. Shoulder Presses
Strong shoulder, back and arm muscles can help with holding the welding torch steadily in a range of positions.
For this exercise, use a band or free weights. Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Outstretch arms perpendicular to your body, forming a “T,” then bend your forearms upwards making a 90° angle at the elbow.
Your head should be straight and in line with your spine and back. Extend arms upward and hold for two seconds before returning to the starting position. Perform three sets of 15-20 reps two or three days a week.
4. Shoulder Lifts
Another exercise that can prevent fatigue when holding the welding torch for long periods of time is the shoulder lift.
Position your body similar to the starting point of the last exercise, but with your arms at your sides and pointing straight down. Using hand weights or a band, raise your shoulders straight up as far as possible and hold for two seconds before lowering again. Keep shoulders and arms in a straight line.
Perform three sets of 15-20 reps two or three days a week.
3 Stretches to Prevent Workout and Welding Injuries
1. Cat-Camel Stretch
Stretch your entire back with this simple posture. Get on your hands and knees and make a table shape with your body. Arch your back like a cat, with stomach sinking toward the floor and head and shoulders pressing up. Make sure to look up, too.
For the camel portion, round your back and suck in your stomach. Drop your head and shoulders. Move back and forth between the two positions.
2. Shoulder Stretch
You may remember this one from high school gym class. Standing straight up, raise one arm and pull it across your chest with your free hand until you feel tension in your shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch arms. Repeat three times.
This is an excellent stretch for loosening the shoulder while on a break at work or before or after a workout.
3. Wrist Stretches
Welders work with their hands all day. These stretches can prevent your wrists from locking up and improve your ability to guide the torch with a steady wrist over extended periods of time.
You might recognize this one from church. Place your palms together in front of your chest at chin height. Keeping this prayer position, lower your hands toward your waistline until you feel some tension. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Perform 2-4 times.
Extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing up. Use your other hand to bend your wrist toward the floor until you feel tension in your forearm. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Next, start the position with your palm facing down and bend the hand toward the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Alternate positions 2-4 times.
Preparing for a Welding Career
Hitting the gym can be a great way to prepare for a welding career. Formal welding training at a trade school is another way to improve your chances of landing a welding job. Many companies are looking for welders who’ve learned the trade in a post-secondary program.
How else can you prepare for a career fusing metal? Read What Does It Take to Learn Welding?