About 90% of us at the gym are guilty of lifting weight that’s too heavy for us. Why? Maybe it’s built-up ego-okay…it’s usually built-up ego. Although sometimes it just happens because we don’t realize that we’re lifting too much weight.
For example, when bulking we are accustomed to increasing the amount that we lift. Our body often seems to be able to move with somewhat linear progression during this time. We add five pounds to each side when performing the dumbbell bench press and there are no problems.
Five more pounds, no problems.
But after a while the weight gets a bit unbearable and we find ourselves relying on the help of others to get it into starting position.
WAIT A MINUTE!
We find ourselves relying on the help of others?
That’s the first problem!
I can understand having our triceps give out when performing close grip bench presses, they almost always create the famous ‘roll of shame’ bench fail out. However, I cannot see any reason why someone should be doing more than they can handle – even if it’s just for getting into starting position – when it comes to a dumbbell movement. Just because the magical bar isn’t there to enforce full body force, doesn’t mean a certain amount of force isn’t necessary to perform the movement.
In fact, we should especially avoid doing lifts when the weight is too much for us to comfortably get the weight into the starting position…and for good reason!
It’s too much weight!
That may catch some off guard, especially when they are able to force out the reps, but it makes sense. It’s too much weight because the stabilizer muscles are unable to handle the load. The deep muscular system is falling behind to the superficial muscular system. This muscular imbalance only progresses over time, which means that the body will lag in its starting position strength more and more as the direct muscle strengthens.
This is a problem, as is any muscular imbalance. Therefore, it should be taken care of as soon as it’s noticed.
How do we fix this imbalance?
The answer is the easiest to say and hardest to hear – lower the weight.
All that needs to be done is the same exercise with proper form and a reasonable weight amount. Knock this out for a year before beginning to advance the weight beyond what is naturally possible. Once the stabilizer muscles have caught up, a shared progression can take place and more aggressive weight increases may occur between workouts.
At the same time, it is important that we do not avoid stretching our stabilizer muscles.
There are many times that I see people at the gym not stretching at all or just stretching the direct muscles. For instance, people stretch their arms before doing curls, but they do not realize that their neck muscles and even their traps play a role in the movement as well.
What if we train with a partner?
Most people are more motivated at the gym by working out with a partner. The only problem with this is that having a partner often creates competition between the two. This will make it desirable to continuously increase the weight amounts. This turns a blind eye to the importance of strengthening the stabilizer muscles and increasing weight load based on actual potential.
It becomes important to either ditch the partner or explain the weak points. If these issues are not fixed, shoulder issues, back problems, and many more can develop as a result of the imbalance. All it takes is a bit of consideration towards the amount of weight that our bodies can actually handle – in fact, lowering the weight may actually result in better muscle growth and strength gains in the mid-term.
It is always great to be able to throw up high numbers. I know it first hand, I’ve experienced the confidence boosts! Still, I’ve realized that I’m relying too much on partner assistance and putting my all into a single set. Just like myself, I’m sure that many of us could benefit from dropping the weight load a little, especially during dumbbell training, to ensure that the stabilizer muscles don’t fall behind.