Most Common Mistakes - Sacrificing good technique for more weight
This aligns with the “lifting too heavy” post I put up previously, but there is a very slight difference.
Whilst lifting too heavy could be a mistake for a couple of reasons - partly because you can’t maintain good form with higher loads, but also because for many guys (and girls) who want to get bigger, it’s not all about weight, but about time under tension and volume of work, so for many bodybuilders, it may actually be more beneficial to lift slightly lighter weights (even as low as 50 or 60% of your maximum in some cases).
For those looking to get bigger, it’s not about the maximum amount you can lift.
The mistake of sacrificing good technique for more weight covers not just the bodybuilders, but the strength athletes too, and the vast majority of gym-goers who base their training goals on “How much can you bench, bro?”
Instead of focussing on performing all reps with good form, at a controlled tempo, with a set rest period, their aim is simply to keep adding weight to the bar regardless of technique, so you can claim the crown of lifting X weight.
For the sake of safety and continued ability to train (and get stronger), it’s always better to lift to your “technical failure” i.e. the maximum amount you can lift *with good technique* rather than absolute failure (the maximum amount you can lift, period, regardless of technique).
Nothing will hinder your strength gains like an injury, it could set you back months, or even years and severely limit your strength potential.
I’m more impressed by the guys lifting heavy with good technique than the guys lifting ridiculous weights with a hunch back - I’m just waiting for the “pop” and a scream (and I’ve seen it a few times - it aint pretty!).
Other than a few *planned* test sessions or competitions, absolute maximum lifts should be few and far between and the possible consequences (i.e. injury) should be accepted as a risk you’re willing to take. If you’re not, then avoid these tests.
Look at the World’s Strongest Man competitions - without fail you’ll see someone get injured because they’re taking the risk and pushing beyond what they’re capable of. It’s a risk they accept and are willing to take in order to compete on the world stage.
The same goes for any powerlifting/strongman competition, if you;re pushing your limits, you’re taking that risk.
The more you take the risk, the more likely you are to get injured, so doing this every week, or even every training session, is a recipe for disaster. Not to mention that your body just won’t recover fast enough if you’re doing this, further increasing the likelihood of getting injured.
Some people might get away with it, but only for so long. Very few can continue like this for long stretches.
So the take-home point here is similar to the “lifting too heavy” post -
- Only work to your TECHNICAL limit
- Have back-off weeks where you lift a bit less to help your body recover
- Use appropriate set, rep and rest schemes to achieve your desired result (often, the weights you’re lifting aren’t as important as you think)
- Only test yourself occasionally, if you need to, and if you’re fully aware and accepting of the risks
- Don’t chase weights, chase better lifts - that could just be better technique or more controlled reps, not just more weight
Be safe, be sensible and you’ll reap the rewards :)