Enter the barbell-swinging contest on your own terms by knowing exactly how hard to push it. These guidelines will make lighter work of heavy going to build more muscle per Titanic rep.
LIFT BIG, REST BIG
Piling on the plates will blitz your central nervous system, so a standard 60-second rest won’t cut it. Even if you don’t feel fatigued, take a seat for 3-5 minutes; the University of Utah found sitting encourages recovery better than standing.
Knee straps support the joint during big lifts, while belts aid your lower back. Plus Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found belts improve your strength by increasing intra-abdominal pressure.
Lifting heavy stresses your muscles big time. Sandwich your weights session with downward dogs and warrior poses to reduce back pain . . and chill out a tad.
BURN AT BOTH ENDS
Training for a big performance means increasing strength throughout the whole movement. Focus on lower weights and a slow tempo to improve the bottom end of a rep; use dynamic lifts to better the top part.
Attempting a 1-rep max holds no real benefits for anyone other than pro weightlifters. And it’s a shortcut to nasty injuries, too. Heavier weights are fine – and great for packing on bulk – but stick to a 2-3-rep max tops. Setting a PB in this range is where the rewards lie.
BACK TO BASICS
Going barefoot encourages a natural ankle movement when squatting, while studies show it also makes deadlifts more efficient. Keep the rest of your kit on, please.
SPOT THE LIFTER
Boldly going where you’ve never gone before is a risky business. To avoid anything worse than a red face, train with a buddy when shooting for a PB – it’s safer, and gives you an even bigger rush of endorphins, according to the University of Oxford.