Your ego will trip you up every time!
Your ego will halt your progress towards your goals, leaving you frustrated to say the least.
Therefore your ego must be tamed!
Keeping up with the Jones’
Your ego is like the little demon perched on your shoulder saying, “You don’t lift as heavy as that guy”, or, “Forget about form, if you swing your body like crazy you’ll be able to shift more weight” – do NOT listen to this guy.
Your ego is that part of you that wants to boast about ‘how much you can bench’ or ‘how much more you can lift than the next guy.’
Grab a cup of coffee and let me tell you a little story……
A couple of years back I was busy hammering out some bicep curls at a local gym when I heard some commotion behind me. I finished my set and turned to see a bunch of excited guys surrounding one of the benches.
I had to see what was going on.
As I got closer I realized there was a guy just about to attempt a BIG bench press. I’m not sure exactly what the weight was, but the bar was loaded with plates. I remember thinking to myself, ‘he’s going to kill himself!’
Then the moment of truth…
His spotters helped him lift the bar off and we all watched with bated breath. He held the bar up for a second and then began lowering it. He brought it down to about 2 inches above his chest and raised it again – I thought, “What’s he doing?!” Then I noticed his back was more arched than the Arc de Triomphe.
Yet everyone around me was cheering him on, seemingly oblivious to the woeful execution with which this press was being performed.
4 reps later his spotters relieve him of the weight and he sits up looking rather smug. His ego had gotten a BIG boost. “He hardly even stimulated his chest muscle at all” I thought, “What was the point in that?”
This guy did ‘half-reps’ and decreased the load on his chest by arching his back – there’s nothing impressive about that. Even less impressive was how his chest (or lack thereof ) actually looked; not surprising when you never actually work it properly.
Yet this is what happens when you allow your ego to dictate your workouts. It wants to be impressed by the amount of weight you lift and encourages you to sacrifice your form in exchange for load. When you do this, you can watch your ‘weight-lifted’ increase every week but your muscle growth remain static.
If you’re near a dumbbell, grab it and perform a couple of dumbbell curls with your back fairly straight throughout.
Now perform 2 more reps and allow your body to swing; swing back when lifting and forward when lowering. Much easier now isn’t it? I bet you could complete a lot more reps this way, in fact you’d probably need a heavier weight for there to be a challenge.
However, the fact remains: You need to feel the stimulation in the muscle each and every rep to encourage muscle growth. If you don’t feel it, you’re probably cheating and robbing yourself of gains.
A Gentle Rock
A perfectly rigid body is not good either! You will have a natural rocking motion on such exercises as barbell curls and dumbbell flies, that’s perfectly fine. I refer to this as ‘optimized form’, some call it ‘controlled cheating.’ However, there should be no excessive momentum. The idea is to initiate the rep with the intended muscle ONLY, then allow any natural movement to happen. Also, this form cannot be used on all exercises e.g. a bench press with ‘controlled cheating‘ is a total disaster.
What you Should be Concerned About
Here’s what you should be concerned about when working out:
* A full range of motion
* Good Timing – go for 1-2 seconds concentric (up), 2 seconds eccentric (down)
* Working in the 8-12 rep range for maximum hypertrophy (You should be reaching ‘failure’ at or before your twelfth rep)
* Seeking progressive overload each session (more reps or weight to force the body to adapt)
Always Think About the Future When Working Out.
If I take this path, where will I end up? Next time you’re tempted to cheat in order to increase the weight lifted, think about your results. Imagine looking in the mirror in 3 months time with next to nothing to show for it. That should be discouraging enough to put anyone off.
Keep working out correctly no matter what the other guys around you are doing.
If you do then the next time some guy comes up to you and asks,
“How much can you bench?”
Lift up your top to reveal your pecs and say,“That’s how much!”
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