Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Perfect form on maximal lifts?

As you go up in weight on an exercise, you'll find that it's harder and harder to maintain proper technique. You might lean, bend, wobble, press or pull one side faster than the other, lose stiffness, whatever.

Usually this means that the weight you're working is at or near your current limit for that exercise for those reps. Sometimes it means you're going too heavy.

The ideal is perfect technique on every rep of every exercise, but is that really doable?

Chances are that the first 225-pound deadlift you ever do won't be perfect form, even if a 220 pound one would be if you tried it. If that 225 was, you'd be able to go heavier . . . there must be some reason, some weak point, some technique problem, that is keeping you from pulling 230, 235, 240, etc. and stopping you at 1 x 225. When you iron that out - and iron it out at 225 - you'll be able to go up until the next technique/weak point breakdown.

The reason you work up in weight is not just to practice the technique, but also to get strong enough to handle the heavier weights without having to compensate with bad technique.

The way I've been taught to think about it is that a new weight is a new exercise.

You can't practice your way to a 225-pound deadlift by deadlifting 135 over and over until it's perfect. You can use a lighter weight to practice form, but keep in mind that as the weight goes up something is going to give. You really can't keep perfect form on a maximal rep. It's something, in my opinion, to strive for, but you have to accept that the heaviest rep you ever do won't be the prettiest rep you ever do.

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