Size Vs Strength Training: Are You Lifting Too Heavy ??

Lifting heavy is important!

If you’ve ever walked into a crowded gym, chances are you’ve seen at least one member doing biceps curls swinging his back to help him lift up the load. Not far from him, you’ll see someone doing squats with a barbell so loaded up, doing what he thinks are proper squats when in fact, they can be called quarter-squats. And if you don’t see any of these types, it’s because it may very well be you. But don’t fret about it. A lot of times our egos get in the way, blinding us from seeing our training mistakes.

All of the aforementioned mistakes are because the trainees believe they are training bodybuilding when they are in fact training weightlifting. The thing about bodybuilding is that you have to look at the dumbbells and barbells as tools needed to build muscle. Loading the barbell with weights, regardless if it’s done either for an ego boost or as a way to impress those around you, is not the right tool for the task at hand.

Every time you go way too heavy:

  1. You decrease the time under tension since you are using momentum/acceleration to lift the weight, otherwise known as cheating.
  2. You are not able to create a solid mind-muscle connection and feel the muscles contracting since your focus is on trying to lift the weight by any means necessary.
  3. You are using more muscles than you should, decreasing the pump in the muscles you want to stimulate.

It’s time for some hard facts. No one in the gym has the slightest interest in how much you can lift. And if some of them do, then they are probably making the exact same mistakes you are, so caring what they think would be absurd. If you cannot handle the load you are lifting for a set of minimum 6 properly executed repetitions, chances are you are training for increasing your strength, provided that you execute the reps with a proper form. Anything else is simply bad and inefficient lifting, which will not only not make you stronger, it also increases the risk of injury.

Preserve strict form!

As any other sport, bodybuilding is optimized when the athlete is abiding proven principles. If you want the short version, this is it: TUT (Time Under Tension).

If you are looking to increase muscle gain, prolong the time under tension when executing every repetition by:

  1. Keeping strict form.
  2. Lowering the weight for at least 3 seconds during the eccentric (negative) part of the movement.
  3. Keeping a mind-muscle connection with the stimulated muscles and trying to achieve a full peak contraction.
  4. Avoid a full lockout on all movements, so that you keep the tension during the entire movement.

This doesn’t mean that you should refrain from cheating totally. Cheating if done wisely can sometimes be beneficial. But as always you first need to take care of the fundamentals. Only then, you can allow yourself to cheat once in a while.

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