Ever wondered why there are girls that lift more than you (no offence ladies!). Well it could be that you are training like an idiot, lets take a look at a few reasons why you aren't very strong...and what you can do about it.
Reason #1 – Spotter Curls
Picture the scene….
“Yeeaahhh, load up that bar bro! It’s all YOU” (as you bench with the ‘spotter’ basically doing a cheat curl)
This happens so often it’s a joke, it must be ingrained in everyone’s minds as acceptable behaviour because I regularly have new clients who I have to reprimand for actually lifting the bar for existing clients who are benching and the bar speed is slowing.
There is nothing worse than grinding through the third rep of a 3 rep max and fighting through the sticking point when some idiot grabs the bar to ‘spot’ you. My friends always have a laugh at my expense when we recall the time this happened to me. I starting swearing and shouting at the offender whilst still lifting. It is very annoying.
Stop doing this! If you can’t lift the weight, lighten up. Be honest and you may just get strong. Counterintuitive perhaps, but lifting weights that are too heavy for too many reps is training (read; programming your body) bad technique, bad mental practice and too much stress on your recovery ability.
Reason #2 – Training to Failure
When training for strength, training to failure is stupid. Lift a heavy weight for many repetitions and your muscles will get tired and motor control will deteriorate. If you continue until failure, your motor control will become so bad that the risk of injury increases significantly. Why risk it?
Training to failure on squats, deadlifts and bench press is a bad idea IF you are training for strength. Always leave at least one or two reps ‘in the bank’ and rack the bar.
Strength is a skill, practice your strength and stay fresh whilst lifting a heavy weight. Blitzing your muscles every session will destroy their ability to recover, instead train often, take little steps and regular breaks and you will get strong. Going to failure is ok on smaller assistance exercises such as curls as the stress on the body is much less.
You should also learn to stop the set when you reach ‘technical failure’. As soon as your technique worsens from your normal, solid groove and turns into a shaky, wobbly, camel-backed rep, you need to stop the set…for the sake of your strength gains as much as for your spine health.
Reason #3 – You don’t train enough
For a long time this was lost on me….
I discovered that if I really need to get strong on an exercise I must train it every day….100 percent of the time, it works every time (thanks Anchorman!).
Now remember what you have learned so far. I do as little as necessary every day to elicit a positive response from my body in my chosen exercise. This is without ‘spotters’ or going to failure and destroying my muscles in the process and taking a week off (which incidentally, was pretty much my old training method).
This, surprisingly, is much easier than you would think. Imagine doing a solid 5x5 workout for deadlifts on Monday, training your other lifts throughout the week and then upping the weights the following Monday for another 5x5 workout. This works! But it just isn’t as effective for strength as doing 2 sets every day for 10 sets per week.
You can literally train twice as much each week if you spread out the training load, this is because you can recover (which is our unofficial reason #4 of why you aren’t strong enough).
1. Lift the weights yourself. Don’t be friends with people who lift the bar when you could have got it yourself!
2. Leave one to two reps in the bank when training for strength, only go to failure on smaller, assistance exercises.
3. Train more often, using less sets per session but more sets per week.
Stop being an idiot, practice your strength, help your body recover and you will get STRONG!