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Put The Ego Down And Slowly Step Away From The Weight…

When it comes to putting on or defining muscle, there’s nothing more time-honored or effective than picking up some weight and going to town. And while there’s no doubt putting some weight training into your workouts will get you shape and definition, sometimes our egos shout a lot louder than reality.

You know what I’m talking about. You eye the weight rack and pick up a dumbbell that’s not so heavy you can’t lift it off the rack, but not so wimpy looking as to make you look like a chump. You start cranking out curls and by about rep four, you’re twisting, arching and bending over backward in any effort to get that weight up so you can lower it again. That, my back-tweaking friend, is your ego talking and as much as hefting weight makes you feel like a beast, you’re doing more harm than good. In cases like these, your ego is an idiot.

Here’s a couple tips to get you back into the land of the sane (and uninjured):

Watch Yourself- Form Matters

Form is more important than the number on the weight you’re lifting. In any resistance movement, you’re putting a focus on specific muscles and focusing the rest of your body to allow that muscle to singularly work. Once you compromise that focus and begin incorporating other muscles not intended, you lose effectiveness and open the door to injury.

Take the bicep curl for example. Back straight (spine and align), core tight, starting with arms fully extended and lifting the dumbbell upward toward the shoulder. In this action, you’re trying to isolate the bicep– and while there are other muscles at work (shoulders and forearms, for example) , the bicep carries most of the load. When your bicep uses all available energy available to it, you’ll fail and won’t be able to perform another curl.

Here’s where you need to watch yourself. The minute you begin arching your back, leaning back, twisting, rocking the hips or using momentum to get the weight up is the minute you’ve failed. A great way to keep this in check is to keep an eye on your form in the mirror– it’s here you’ll know when things are going South.

Choose Your Weight Wisely

I know it’s tough to swallow but you don’t need to be lifting dumbbells the size of train axles to pack on muscle. You simply need to pick the weight that’s right for you. If you’re looking for hypertrophy (the fancy way of saying “put on some muscle mass”), all you need to do is pick a weight where you fail with good form in a range between 8-10 reps. For some Dudes, that may be 20 lbs. For others, 65 lbs. But the point is, you’re lifting what you can lift to failure at… that’s right: 8-10 reps.

I promise, you’ll get “pumped”– probably even more so– if you’re failing with form and the right weight as opposed to throwing bars and dumbbells around. You’ll slowly be able to increase your loads and soon that 20 lb. dumbbell will make way for the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Growth Is In The Rest, Not The Rep

OK, that’s not entirely true…. I just liked the sound of the headline. Truth is, reps do matter based on goals and when done to failure but “lifting” is where you’re breaking down muscle. By pulling out “one more rep”, you’re forcing muscle to compensate for that extra load the next time around. In doing so, you’re actually inflicting damage on those muscles you’ve worked hard to strengthen. The muscles then need recovery– it’s during recovery or rest where they repair the tissue damage and compensate to lift bigger loads by expanding their size and strength.

So yeah, that might mean you only lift arms once, maybe twice depending on your goals, a week. But that time off, when nutrition is keyed in and those muscles are fueled, is where you’ll see the gain.

If you’re using P90X, P90X2 or any other Beachbody program that uses serious resistance, let’s dial in your journey and results by making me your coach today. After all, support is everything. 

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