While it’s true that lifting heavier weights is necessary in order to grow bigger muscles, you should not do it at the expense of poor form. Not a day goes by at the gym where I don’t see people jerking their bodies back and forth trying to lift weights their body can’t handle. The truth is, lifting very heavy weights that your body can’t handle does not automatically improve your physique. In fact, it can be detrimental not only to your muscular gains but also to the body. Have I got your attention yet?
You still don’t believe me?
Perhaps a good example would be weightlifting/powerlifting athletes. We all know that weight lifting is a sport that demands tremendous explosive power, strict technique and discipline. Most of us would have seen weighlifting events during the Olympics coverage on TV. They lift and train with amazing poundages, but yet – most do not develop what most of us consider to be a ‘pleasant’ or a bodybuilder’s physique. Don’t get me wrong – they’re BIG and STRONGER than bodybuilders, and weightlifters are amazing athletes who excel in their own sport. It’s just that their physique is something most of us dont normally dream of getting.
Bodybuilder vs Weightlifter
To stimulate muscle growth, you should stick to a rep range of 8 – 12 reps (strength training and endurance training have different rep ranges). And this 8 – 12 reps means that you should NOT be able to complete more than 12 reps when these are reps done in strict form. If you find yourself being able to carry more than 12 reps – you need to add more weight to bring your reps down.
So, if given the option of using lighter weight with strict form OR using heavier weight with lousy form, by all means – use the lighter weight with strict form! When you lift heavy weights you can’t handle, you will have the tendency to swing the weights rather than moving it in a controlled manner. Swinging heavy weights has no benefit other than feeding your ego.
Always ‘feel’ the weight and have absolute control of the weight at all times, when you squeeze the weight up and also when you’re controlling the descent. Some people enforce a 2-seconds UP, and 2-seconds DOWN movement to ensure that they’re not swinging the weights around.
Remember, that whenever you step into the gym, to forget about ‘competing’ with the others. The purpose for you to be there is to take care of the most important person – YOU. Leave your ego at the entrance before you step inside.
Occasionally, advanced lifters do lift weights that they are unable to handle – but this is referred to as ‘controlled cheating’. When done in a safe and controlled manner, this allows for the extra bit of overload sometimes necessary to spawn continual muscle growth in seasoned athletes. This is another topic altogether.