There are two common schools of lifters in the gym; the ego-lifters and the technique police, who have differing opinions on weight vs technique when resistance training.
One focuses on lifting as heavy a weight as possible through a compromised range of motion, whereas the other ensures technique is maintained at all times, but arguably doesn’t use a heavy enough weight/big enough resistance. However, both lifting styles have their benefits for the regular gym user, whether they are concerned with muscle gain, fat loss or simply training for health and fitness.
Pushing or pulling a weight through its full range of motion, at a consistent/controlled speed, equates to good technique. There are lots of reasons why you should lift with good technique:
- Proper technique generally increases mechanical tension through the target muscle groups
- Proper technique reduces stress on commonly injured muscle groups
- Proper technique prevents injury to problem joints like the knees and shoulders
- Proper technique should increase the amount of time the target muscles are under tension
- Being able to maintain and practice proper lifting technique will enable more efficient strength increases, as well as better quality muscle contractions.
Lifting a heavy weight is also very important:
- Heavy weights can help increase muscle size
- Heavy weight training can increase both normal and maximal strength
- Increases in strength allow more challenging weights to be used on higher rep sets, thus burning more calories
- Building muscle will increase your metabolic rate (slightly), burning more calories at rest (meaning you can eat more whilst maintaining or dropping body fat)
Ultimately, you should aim to lift more weight over time, whilst maintaining good technique. Exercise technique will begin to suffer on the last couple of reps of exercises as you fatigue, especially on those sets where you are going to failure. This is nothing to worry about as long as you maintain good posture and form, whilst reducing the range of motion as you tire – fully stretching the muscle group with every rep, and simply contracting it as far as possible without using momentum or changing the body angle.
Exercise variation and experimenting with some lifting protocols can also contribute to progressive overload, which is the notion of continually increasing the total volume/intensity over time to keep developing muscle mass/strength, improving performance and or fat loss.
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