You should always be careful in the gym and respect the amount of weight you lift. It’s real amazing the amount of weight I used to be able to lift in the gym when I was younger. Watching an average size 170 lb. man squatting 405 lbs or seeing a 120 lb women leg pressing over 360 lbs is a regular occurrence. But what my 25 years of experience has shown me is that when the weight gets that heavy the chance of injury increases significantly. Unless you’re power lifting for competition, there’s no need to train that heavy. There are a number of techniques you can use to produce great results while lifting moderate amounts of weights. A concept I try to teach my clients is you have to “Make a Light Weight Feel Heavy”.
Most people go to the gym with the wrong mind set. They want to make a heavy weight feel light. Making a heavy weight feel light makes sense for a power lifter but not for the average gym member. Power lifting is a sport while weight lifting is resistance training to achieve a goal. When you are participating in a sport your main goal is to win not to safely develop your body. Power lifters are great athletes who use proper techniques to lift very heavy weights while trying to put as little strain on their bodies as possible. When you’re going to the gym you want to do the exact opposite of a power lifter. You want to make a light weight feel heavy. When lifting light weights you want to use techniques that safely put maximum strain on the body.
Techniques to make light weights feel heavy in the gym:
- Use perfect form. Learn how to do the exercises correctly.
- Move the weight slowly. Most people get injured at the transitional point of lifting weights. Raise, and more importantly, lower the weight, slowly (take at least 5 seconds to lower the weight).
- Use gravity to your advantage. Think about where gravity is coming from and put your body in positions to make lighter weights feel heavier.
- Use body building techniques like pre-exhaustion. Pre-exhaustion is when you first perform an isolated movement like a dumbbell fly quickly followed by a bench-press. The principle is to eliminate weak muscle links. For example, when you’re bench-pressing it’s most likely not your larger chest muscles that are getting tired but rather your smaller triceps that give way first. Therefore, by first performing a fly motion which works the chest but does not tax the triceps you pre-exhaust your chest before bench-pressing.
- Don’t rest too much between exercises. Keep rest periods under one minute.
- Learn how to keep continuous tension on the muscles while lifting. Once you start an exercise don’t rest within it. Always keep the desired muscles under tension. For example, don’t lock out your knees or elbows while doing pressing movements.
These are just a few techniques I use with my clients to make light weights feel heavy. Give them a try. Most likely you’ll be working out even harder lifting lighter weighs than heavy while greatly reducing your chance of injury.
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Best – Mike Cola