WHY YOU NEED TO START LIFTING HEAVY?
Photo: Bibhas Maharjan Suwal
Weight training improves the functioning of your immune system, lowers your resting heart rate and improves your balance and coordination. It puts stress on your bones and builds bone density. But if you’re looking for massive change, you need to put in massive efforts. When we say lifting heavy, we mean the weights that you can’t lift for more than 3-8 reps.
Why would you want to give yourself that pain? Here’s why.
#1) Overload or be underwhelmed
If you want to see results, you have to overwhelm your body. And that does not end at the point you feel fatigued. If you feel you’re done at 8 reps, you can get to 10. You have to adopt that gun to your head mentality in order to challenge your muscles to grow.
#2) Expose imbalance and compensations
Every time you lift heavy, you put yourself to the test. And this allows you to judge where you are going wrong. It helps you know where you lack, which arm is stronger, if you lean forward during squats maybe you don’t have the right quad strength.
#3) Maximize MTOR
MTOR is an enzyme that acts as a catalyst in protein synthesis which helps enhance muscle growth. It is maximized by the amount of force or stress you exert on a muscle. Higher the intensity is, higher is the production of MTOR which means more muscle growth.
#4) Recruitment of Fast Twitch Muscles
Lifting heavy helps fill up fast twitch muscle fibers, which are larger than the slow twitch fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers come to work when you start lifting heavy, slow twitch fibers come to use in the start while using lighter weights. These are the largest fibers and have more capacity for glycogen storage. With glycogen comes water and cell vitalization effect which increases these fibers and increase muscle size.
#5) Max it out.
It is a good idea to increase the weight to a number you’re not used to. This may limit your repetitions up to 3 or 2 rep max. But when you come back down to your regular weights, they feel much lighter. Over time, your strength level will improve.
When you’re lifting heavy, it is very common to use momentum to assist with your sets. Don’t use momentum (swinging/bouncing weights) to combat gravity. You’ll risk injury, look silly and there’ll be insufficient tension to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains.
Here are 4 tips to minimize momentum:
1. Increase the weight
The heavier the weight the bigger gravity’s pull so lift heavy weights and you will fight against a bigger force.
2. Kill momentum
Many lifters cheat and use momentum to “swing” the weight up. This takes the tension off the target muscle group: less tension will result in less growth and strength gains. To avoid this have a training partner signal any sign of cheating (or use a mirror) and strive to ensure perfect technique through your lifts.
3. Compound lifts
In all compound exercises (deadlifts, squats, bench press, military press etc) the bar-bell travels straight up and straight down, which keeps the muscles under constant tension as there is a constant vertical pull from gravity. Isolation exercises such as bicep curls or tricep extensions do not provide continuous tension on the muscle as the bar- or dumb-bell travels in an arc where only the middle phase of the movement generates maximum tension.
4. Lift slowly
For some serious tension engage your muscles in a long, slow battle. Try switching from the conventional two seconds up three seconds down routine to five seconds up and eight seconds down.
NOTE: Overload your body but do it under a controlled fashion. It is important to work out with a purpose. Do you want to gain size, increase strength or lose weight? Maintain the correct form throughout every execution and seek professional help if you’re a beginner.