Once upon a time, I thought strength training was all about curling, pressing, and raising dumbbells over and over. (And over… and over….) Grinding every day, loading those barbells and gargantuan dumbbells as heavy as I could because all the big, muscular dudes who grunted their way through their workouts did that, was the only way to get big.
Little did I know that I was missing out on the incredible, powerful feeling I’ve since learned I can only get when picking up the equivalent of my bodyweight—and then some—off the floor, instead of pressing one of those giant dumbbells overhead.
Yes there is a time and a place for those heavy lifts BUT
It’s critical to build up a strong foundation before trying to heft that heavy barbell.
Taking the time to first build strength and proficiency in the movement pattern, further understanding the movement behind the exercise and the body mechanics of the lift is so much more beneficial and effective than just picking up heavy weights with the mindset of “lift big get big”
The heavier the weight gets, the more finely tuned your movements and positioning have to be, and the more likely a specific joint or muscle weakness will be exposed compared to [when you’re lifting] lighter loads.” The more concentration ( mind muscle connection) needs to happen
Believe me when I say, master the foundations and you will supersede anyone around you. ( another post to come)
For the time being here are 5 must follow tips when getting back into the gym and become the powerhouse you want to be!
1. START WITH THE RIGHT LIGHT WEIGHT.
When choosing a weight, follow a concept known as “reps in reserve,” which refers to how many more reps you could conceivably do before failure. During this initial strength-building phase, you’ll want to pick a weight that will leave a minimum of three reps left in your reserve. “You’ll see improvements in strength and body composition along the way, but won’t need to expose yourself to the risk of maximum loading until you’re ready to handle it.”.
2. TRAIN OFTEN.
To pack in as much into your prep phase as possible without going overboard, exercise physiologist Joel Seedman, Ph.D., Advanced Human Performance at the AIS, recommends three to five strength training sessions per week, with each session lasting around 60 minutes. “It’s enough so that the person isn’t going to be overtraining, but at the same time, you’re going to be getting a good workout”.
3. GIVE YOUR TISSUES AND TENDONS TIME TO ADAPT.
It’s critical to build up the strength needed to heft a heavy weight, but lifting weights takes more than just muscle; it also requires cooperation from tissues like ligaments and tendons, which take longer to adapt and recover from exercise.
4. MASTER THE MOVEMENTS TO BUILD MUSCLE MEMORY.
Building up the ability to squat, deadlift, or press a heavy barbell doesn’t depend solely on muscular strength. The amount of weight you can lift also depends on how efficiently your brain can communicate with your muscles. That is, how quickly your muscles—both the muscle groups involved and the fibres within the muscles—can coordinate to lift that weight.
To nail the correct technique and train your nervous system to recognize the movement patterns, Seedman recommends adding practice sessions to your week.
One way to do that is to spend 20 to 30 minutes practicing basic lifts on your days off from regular strength training. “It’s kind of an active recovery day,” Seedman says. Practice one exercise from seven movement categories: squat, hip hinge (i.e. deadlift), lunge, horizontal push (i.e. bench press), horizontal pull (i.e. barbell bent-over row), vertical push (i.e. overhead press), and vertical pull (i.e. lat pulldown). Go for three sets of five to eight reps with a lighter weight.
If you’re not wild about the idea of going to the gym on your day off, split up your normal workout so 80 percent is dedicated to your regular lifts, while the other 20 percent focuses on form with lighter weights.
5. SHORE UP YOUR CORE.
A strong core is essential to lift heavy. “Think of it as the trunk to your tree,” In order for your limbs to move efficiently, your trunk has to be sturdy and resilient.”