I have never been an incredibly strong dude. And likely never will be.
Sure, the amount of weight I can move has increased since I began my weight-lifting journey back in 2012, but I will never be the strongest guy in the gym throwing around the most weight.
And I’m OK with this.
Because despite not repping 225 on bench press or rarely – and I mean rarely – squatting more than 275 pounds, I’ve managed to completely transform my body from the skinny dude I was back in 2012. I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds of muscle in the past five years, and yet, I can’t tell you what my one-rep max is for most of the major moves.
Instead, my focus has always been on lifting a weight that allows me to direct my attention to the muscle movement, to keeping proper form, and to moving the weight in varying ways (i.e. pause sets, slow eccentric movements, different angles, etc.) to maximize my muscle growth.
Believe me, it works. But if you don’t believe me, read the research.
Men’s Fitness reported on a study by researchers at McMaster University that concluded that lifting lighter weights to muscle fatigue produces the same amount of muscle growth as lifting heavy for lower reps. There was no difference.
Of course, for those wanting to increase strength, the only way to do that is by progressively lifting heavier. More power to you.
But that’s not my goal. I’m in my 30s, and my prime strength days are behind me.
But I feel that for many people – especially men – who want to start working out, this underlying expectation that they must lift heavy or they’re not doing it right leads to either 1) never going to the gym because of embarrassment, or 2) injury because of ego and trying to lift too heavy.
Correct movement is more important. Controlling the weight and the movement is going to produce the muscle growth most guys desire, as well as weight loss if that is another goal.
Don’t let ego or embarrassment keep you from reaching your goals. Because your goals are the only ones that matter in the gym.