- Are you interested in being able to lift heavy weight intelligently?
- Are you interested in pursuing heavy lifting without getting injured?
- Are you looking to get stronger while moving better?
- Are you interested in a safe and effective approach to your lifting?
In order to lift heavy loads you’ve got to understand how to progress your physical strength in order to get there in the first place. Everything that involves true progression must take place incrementally over time.
When it comes to training with heavy weight your approach should always involve a smart plan involving progressive overload so the end result is a healthy dose of strength without the injury!
So If You’re Looking To Lift Heavy What Is The Approach?
Progressive overload is about consistently and incrementally working to increase either the number of reps you can do with a given movement, or the amount of weight you can lift with a given movement.
If you’re smart and disciplined about progressive overload then you’re going to avoid injuring yourself 90–95% of the time. However to prevent the other 5–10% possibility of something negative happening you need to apply the following steps to your training on a consistent basis.
Eliminate all muscular restrictions
I’m constantly having to work with athletes and students on eliminating muscular restrictions. Pains and strains are often the result of poor movement and more often than not poor movement can be a result of muscular tightness with even the most experienced lifter.
These ailments generally occur as a result of a trainee having tight restricted muscle(s) which lead to a compensation in another muscle when they exert themselves during a heavy lift.
As an example let’s say a trainee makes an attempt at a heavy deadlift while experiencing some immobility in his or her hips. Just prior to exerting themselves they are just not quite able to get into the proper setup position to pull the bar because of some tight muscles in their glutes and hamstrings.
Because their range of motion (ROM) is restricted from the get go their ability to bend and get into the proper deadlift position is inhibited…and perhaps it’s only slight.
Regardless when they go to pull the bar off of the ground they end up straining their low back. I’ve seen this happen to some very experienced lifters over the years including myself once or twice. This is totally avoidable.
Usually it’s because people get in a hurry and don’t invest enough time focusing on mobility, warming up, and stretching. If you want to maintain a strong injury free body then you MUST understand how to go about strategically stretching to optimize your ROM prior to lifting that heavy weight.
Dial in your technique
In order to achieve the status of being a strong experienced lifter you must have a handle on your lifting technique in the first place. This certainly requires practice on your part, but it requires more than practice…it requires perfect practice.
If you’re going to begin the process of pursuing a goal to lift heavy weight then you need to invest the time to study proper lifting technique. If you’re truly serious, but you’re a complete beginner I’d even recommend you seek out the guidance of a qualified professional.
Regardless you’re still going to have to put in the time in order to make that transition from understanding the technical aspect of a lift from thinking about the movement to understanding it by feeling the movement.
This ability of you being able to do it by feeling is a trait that is known as the kinesthetic sense. When you develop the kinesthetic sense you are better able to move due to your ability to feel your muscle movement, body position, and the weight resistance due to the heightened development of your nerve endings as a result of the process of training.
Such ability only comes with consistent practice so that you understand how to move and handle your body during the execution of certain movements.
Undulate your intensity
If you expect to lift heavy then you should, but you can’t lift heavy all the time. When formulating a smart approach for building strength you need to steadily add more and more weight over time. Remember the progressive overload principle I mentioned in the second paragraph of this answer?
You can lift heavy, but you should also have peaks and valleys in terms of your lifting intensity throughout a given training week. This peak and valley model is what is known as undulation. Think of it in terms of a wave.
With a wave there are high points and low points. In this case the high and low points in the wave represent your lifting intensity (amount of weight being lifted). So when it comes to your training you want to structure it accordingly.
Ok so check this out. Let’s say you perform the bench press on Mondays and Thursdays. One way you can undulate your lifting intensity for the bench press is by focusing more on hypertrophy/endurance on Monday and strength/power on Thursday.
By modeling your intensity this way you can experiment with your volume and intensity to find the sweet spot for you to continue progressing in your training over the course of the following weeks. Additionally with this model you’re also building in adequate recovery time for yourself from week to week which is a definite way to decrease the likelihood of an injury.
Lift Heavy: The Takeaway
At the end of the day if you are looking to lift heavy you need to be smart…period. Sloppy lifting and poor movement prior to a heavy lifting attempt will result in injury on a frequent basis.
Are you looking to lift heavy?
What heavy lift are you currently working to improve in your training?
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