The title of this article itself is great advice. It’s probably the one thing that most lifters forget, which results in a loss of meaningful progress.
Listen…this is bodybuilding. The clue is in the name – to build the body. If you want your muscles to get bigger, they need to be trained in a very specific way.
Some people can make some size gains with “strength training”, crossfit, olympic weight lifting, and so on, but those modes of training are not hypertrophy-specific.
Ask yourself what your goal in this game is. If it’s size gains, if it’s aesthetics, read this…it’s important.
We talk about “lifting”. We call ourselves “weight lifters”. But really our goal is “muscle stimulation”.
Stimulating a muscle to grow is all about “HIGH QUALITY MUSCULAR CONTRACTIONS”. You hear that? I hope you are really getting this.
When you train, are you “moving weight” or “feeling the muscle”? It makes all the difference in the world, my friend. You must…
FEEL THE MUSCLE, NOT THE WEIGHT
You can FORCE a muscle to grow. In fact, that’s the ONLY way to make it grow – to give it no choice!
If person A is dumbbell curling 30kg and making a mess of it because it’s too heavy for him, he will stimulate ZERO growth. His ego might be inflated, but his muscles won’t be.
If he dropped the weight to 20kg and did proper full range, constant tension, slow negative reps, he’d start to grow again (more on “constant tension” here). Without exaggeration, he would probably double his gains (if not more).
MESSAGE: Leave your damn ego and the gym door!
It’s not about what other people are lifting. It has NOTHING to do with that. Your body is your body.
The numbers only matter relative to YOU. If you could only bench 60kg, but that is with 10 high-quality reps, great! You then seek to make progress from there. Stop looking at the guys benching over 100kg: heck they might even have flat pecs!
Knock out really high quality sets and consider the numbers as secondary.
Now, check this out. Here’s a video of Kai Greene (official site) talking about this very issue and HAMMERING home the point well! The great part is from 11min 15secs onwards (the video should start playing from this point).
At around 15:30, Kai touches on what I was saying above about “moving weight” vs “feeling the muscle”. He says,
“Your primary goal is not to lift weights, you’re not a weight lifter. I’ll never be a weight lifter…for the people out there who don’t know the difference, a bodybuilder is primarily concerned with contracting his muscles. He contracts his muscles against greater and greater resistance [over time] and by doing that he is able stimulate hypertrophy [growth]. A ‘weight lifter’ is just concerned about moving weight so he can boast to you about how much he curls, how much he benches…”
“Numbers will ruin you if you get caught up in the number game. All that matters is how you execute the exercise – squeezing, stretching, getting a good pump.”
Then talking about a guy doing heavy bench presses for low reps, he goes on to say,
“You feel good. You’re like ‘yeah’. But as far as chest development? You haven’t done a damn thing. You got nothing accomplished, nothing! Waste of time.”
It’s true. I know so-called “strength trainers” (and I’m sure you’ve seen some on the web) who’ve been training for over a decade…with very little to show for it. They look like someone who’s been training for a few months. All those years and they got nothing accomplished!
I’ll finished with this…
The numbers are important in so far as your personal numbers should be incrementally increasing over the years…but HEAVY ASS weights for low reps where you feel ZERO tension on the intended muscle throughout the full range of motion are useless for building muscle. You’re wasting your time and getting nowhere…and you’ll probably end up injured.
Build your muscles, not your ego.
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