If I had a gun to your head and said your life depended on you lifting a weight, you’d lift it. You wouldn’t be worried about your form or tempo, if your back rounded or if you were using straps. All the stuff you’re told to be concerned with, in that situation wouldn’t matter. Regardless of the weight, you would find a way to lift it. You’d move that weight so fast and you’d ask me how many reps I wanted you to do.
Afterwards you’d walk away injury free, without a bullet in the brain and go on to lift some more weight.
You’ve got the muscle and the strength to lift so much more than you do, you just let things that really don’t matter get in the way of it happening.
Weight training is about moving weight. Hence the name.
It is impossible to move your body and not use a muscle. That’s what muscles are for. Worrying about correct activation and isolation during an exercise is completely pointless. It is impossible, read that again : impossible, to not use the desired muscle if the movement occurred.
Stop worrying about how the work is done and just do it. Everything else will fall into place. You cannot squat down and stand up and not use every muscle in your leg. Those muscles are there for you to do that movement. That’s what they do. If you did the movement, the muscles did their job. Because if they didn’t, you wouldn’t have stood up. I challenge anyone to squat down and stand up and not use their leg muscles. Anyone! Want to make the muscles work a bit harder? Add weight to the equation. Does it matter if that added weight results in your form suffering while standing up? Nope. Does it mean the muscles in the leg somehow stopped working because your form suffered? Nope.
And what if you should let your form slightly suffer and god forbid, start to incorporate other muscles? *gasp* I don’t know? I guess you might lift more weight, create a greater stress to the area and get stronger which over time would lead to new muscle being built. Oh how awful!
“But it feels heavy.” Of course it does. It is heavy. Stop worrying about how it feels. It always feels heavy. It never stops feeling heavy because it never stops being heavy. You are never going to escape that feeling for as long as you train. What’s even better is the stronger you get, the worse it feels.
Have bad technique? Strength will fix it. Working on your technique with light weight wont fix your technique when the weight gets heavy. You need to get strong to fix your technique. How do you get strong? Lift lots of weight.
Having perfect technique but not being able to lift heavy is like having a 12” penis that can’t get hard. It’s all very impressive but kinda useless if you can’t use it when it matters.
A wonderful squat technique with an empty bar means absolutely nothing if the moment you put weight on it everything falls apart. If you have an ugly squat, work with what you’ve got and make it the strongest ugly squat it can possibly be. Watch your form and technique get better as your strength increases.
Who gives a shit if the last few reps of a set are ugly? They’re the last few reps. They’re supposed to be ugly! You’re supposed to be tired at the end of the set. It’s the end.
No one ever complains about someones running technique as they stumble over the finish line in a marathon collapsing with fatigue. Most people are heralded as courageous for even finishing such an event. They are replayed on nightly news shows with inspirational music bringing tears of joy to our eyes and smiles to our faces. Yet do a 20 rep set of deadlifts with diminishing form as your energy evaporates and exhaustion suffocates you and all of a sudden the tears dry up, smiles turn to a sneer and the whole set doesn’t count.
Fuck you it doesn’t count. Ask every organ, bone and muscle in your body if it counts!
“But I don’t want to get injured so I focus on my form more than the weight” Injuries happen. Deal with it. You lift weight, you’re going to get injured at some point. That is the reality. You walk outside and one day you’re going to get hurt. If you never want to get hurt, either don’t get out of bed, or just kill yourself and avoid the inevitable. Sounds a bit extreme and stupid doesn’t it? So does the idea of doing anything remotely stressful and physical and not having your body give out at some point.
A common complaint is every time a person tries to go heavy they get injured. Therefore heavy training causes injuries. Really? Seems to be an awful lot of people walking around with bad knees, backs, necks, shoulders, elbows who have never lifted a heavy weight in their life. For every 100 light weight lifting, perfect form practicing, always injured people there is that 1 guy who deadlifts 300kg on the regular who walks around largely injury free. The difference? He is strong and they aren’t. The other difference? His form on light weights is spectacular because he can lift heavy weights. Whereas their form on light weight is terrible and they cant lift anything heavy.
What exactly is perfect form anyway? Everyone has a different structure so there is no one size fits all of how to do a movement. A 7 foot tall person is going to look different squatting and deadlifting than a 4 foot tall person. One of them is going to break the perfect form rule somewhere. Does that mean they shouldn’t do the movement? Does perfect form mean you don’t struggle? I seriously hope not because that’s just stupid. The entire point of training is to make your body change through stress caused from lifting weight. At some point struggling is going to happen regardless of weight. So if struggling means your form is no longer perfect I guess none of us can ever train. Just like if you took 20 pro basketball players and asked them to shoot you would see 20 different styles of a jump shot. The same will occur with lifting weight. A bench press stripped back to its rawest is laying down with a bar held above you, lowering it down to a point and pushing it back up. There are about 5 things that immediately spring to mind that will vary between each person benching, meaning their form is going to be different. So long as they are able to make progress, who cares how they do it?
As the majority of people are training for aesthetic purposes and have no intention or desire to compete in powerlifting comps where perfect technique is required, spending all your time focusing on form rather than strength isn’t going to give you the outcome you’re after. Perfect form doesn’t give you muscle. Strength does. You need more muscle for those aesthetics you’re after. For all the girls who began training to make their butt bigger and firmer, following Jen Selters moronic body weight ass workout, or doing rep after rep on 20kg squats worrying about whether your hands are positioned right, if you suffer from “butt wink” or look like you’re struggling on the way back up isn’t going to have you looking like a fitness model any time soon. However if you focus on putting as much weight on your shoulders as possible and standing up and down as fast and you can as many times as you can, your glutes are going to have to get strong to deal with that weight and as a result, your butt will grow.
Strength vs Technique is an argument that will go around in circles from now until the end of time. Those who are for perfect technique will say that you should never put the weight up until the technique is 10 out 10 perfect and meatheads will always irresponsibly throw around more weight than they have any right to. While I don’t agree with trying to lift stupid amounts of weight for ego reasons, I certainly don’t believe in spending 6/12 months of training working on perfecting every minute detail of an exercise with no real weight on the bar.
I’m definitely not saying throw out all form and technique in order to lift heavy. Remember heavy is relative. If you weigh 50kg, deadlift 120kg and you put 250kg on the bar and hurt yourself, you’re an idiot and deserve everything you have coming to you. Everyone needs to learn how to train when they first go to the gym. But learning the basics is all you need. From that point on every time you step foot in the gym you will learn something new. How to move, how to breathe, how to lift. Part of that natural progression is adding more weight to the bar and adjusting what you’re doing taking into consideration the extra kilos being moved.
Perfect technique is a wonderful idea for a perfect world.
We don’t live in a perfect world.
Just shut up and train.