Each individual set is an opportunity to build muscle.
Don’t mess it up!

In order to truly maximize your gains you need to ensure that you are as strong as possible on each and every set.

A HUGE factor in dictating this is COMFORT.

Remember this: You must set yourself up to be as strong as possible on every set. This means being as comfortable as possible.

I’ll give you just one example to show you what I mean.

I use an EZ bar (Curl Bar) instead of a straight barbell for working my biceps. The angle that this sets my wrists at is very comfortable in comparison to the barbell position. In turn I can place more overload on my biceps – somewhere in the order of 15-20% more. That’s pretty significant!

When assessing your comfort levels, pay attention to:

  • Wrists – angle, wrist wraps needed? wrist straps needed?
  • Arm/grip width on barbell movements
  • Feet width
  • Posture
  • Motion of body – Too much? Too little?

As far as grip width on barbell movements (like military presses) is concerned, the position where you would naturally grab the bar is the right position 99% of the time.

We all have different body structures so there’s no prescribed width as such. Walk up the the bar and just grab it, that’s a natural position and the right one for you. One exception is the upright row, where a narrow grip is required).

Ditto for feet width. The right width is the width where you feel most comfortable. If someone says ‘shoulder width’ but you feel sturdier with a slightly wider stance, do what feels best. Again, there are always exceptions, a good one here is stiff-leg deadlifts which require a narrow stance.

Good posture i.e. a straight back will pay off dividends in strength AND ensure that you remain injury-free.

You SHOULD allow natural motion in your body on all lifting/lowering movements. This is the essence of biomechanically optimized form. Again, let’s take barbell curls; your torso should be falling forward a little on the negative part of the rep, and rocking back a little on the lift.

I’ve already commented on gloves and wrist straps. Basically, this is a personal choice but I do recommend them both, especially for heavier lifts.

Quickly, I’ll give you a couple more examples from my own life.
I use a V-Bar for tricep cable push-downs. It is obviously designed to be gripped at the bottom but I hold it near the top. The narrower grip feels much more comfortable to me and I therefore shift more weight with optimized form.

I also perform French curls with an EZ bar instead of a barbell or even dumbbells. The curl bar really allows for a natural wrist position.

Listen to your own body and work with it. If I, or anyone else, recommends an exercise that doesn’t feel right to you, either drop it for something else or change one or more aspects of the exercise to fit your own structure.

Working out should feel fluid & smooth and not sore on your joints.

Remember…

Maximum Comfort = Maximum Strength = Maximum Gains

Stay Motivated!

Mark McManus

P.S. Any more tips? Let me know in the comments below? 🙂

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