One ornate the most common questions we get asked, is technique important for building muscle muscle?
It’s happened to all of us: you walk into the weights room at your local gym, and there’s a stocky guy chucking the bar around with awful technique but an impressive weight- throwing it up and dropping it back down onto his chest, or getting nowhere near his chest, and once he’s finished wrestling the weight he sits ups rubbing his shoulder and barely surviving rotator cuffs. Later a guy of a larger build uses the same bench, but reduces the weight by around 25% knocking out a slower, more controlled set..
There are various reasons as to why technique is generally more important than the total weight you are lifting. The main two reasons being; reduced risk of injury, and the proper isolation of the muscle group(s) you are aiming to work- ultimately by practicing proper technique you will help maximise your gains whilst minimising the potential for injury.
The reasoning for technique over ego-lifting is listed below:
- By performing proper exercise technique at a controlled speed and increased range of motion we increase the time under tension. This being the period of time that the muscles are under stress, and by increasing this we increase the rate of muscular fatigue and fibre damage, increasing the rate of muscular hypertrophy when combined with the right diet.
- Better technique involves the eccentric phase more so than lifting heavier weights with poorer technique, as your muscles can handle more weight on the eccentric phase of the movement, further fatiguing your muscles.
- By controlling the movement we can reduce the risk of injury- especially concerning the knee and shoulder joints, preventing them being forced into foreign positions accidentally.
- By slowing and performing of proper reps we can isolate the specific muscle group we aim to work, rather than utilising various muscle groups as done when throwing weights around with little control- ultimately achieving a greater quality of contraction.
- It allows us to use muscle fibres rather than momentum to initiate and perform the desired movement.
- Having learned and practiced proper technique we will reduce the chance of injury and increase the weight lifted when performing heavy or maximal lifts.
- Proper technique involves stabilisation from your feet through your core muscle, holding your body in the correct position to properly isolate the muscle group you intend to work.
- Weaker, smaller stabilising muscles are strengthened when proper technique- especially with free weights- is practiced. This will further reduce chances of injury when lifting and in everyday life and other sports, as will direct exercises and stretches.
Importantly here I am not saying you should negate heavy weight lifting altogether, as we want to increase the weight lifted in a linear profile to continue gaining muscle mass and or strength- employing different lifting protocols in the process. So another good tip would be to note the weight lifted and quality of form per exercise and day, giving a reference point from which to aim to better every couple of sessions. This may mean technique will be compromised slightly when increasing the weight lifted, but hopefully only later in the exercise or session.
A range of exercises and explanation of proper and safe from can be found here.