If you want to build muscle you have to ask yourself how heavy is too heavy when it comes to lifting weights. A lot of people will lift heavy weights in order to build muscle but not pay attention to how they are doing it. I would argue that lifting lighter weights will go a lot further towards adding mass if you are going to lift the heavy weights improperly.
That said, there is a need to first ask yourself what your training goal is. What are you training for? If your goal is to increase strength at any expense then you may think that completing the lift at all is hitting your goal. I would argue that at the expense of good form, this is not true. At the root of all true strength is stability. This is especially so if you want to build muscle and remain injury free for years to come.
If you continue to attempt to add weight to the bar and progressively overload but do so upon a body that is not stabile you will ultimately suffer an injury in almost every case. Instead, look to add weight to the bar as able provided you can maintain the safety through stability by not building around a cracked foundation.
Now, when it comes to hypertrophy or building muscle, there is one easy test that you can do right now on any lift to determine if the weight that you are using is too heavy for you. This is caused the pause test. At any point in time during the lift you are performing you should be able to stop the weight and hold it. I don’t care if this stopping point is at the beginning, middle or end of the rep.
The reason why is because of muscle physiology and biomechanics we know to be true. Muscles are stronger isometrically than they are concentrically. In other words, the force generating capacity of a muscle is stronger when all it has to do is hold the weight in one place rather than shorten and move the weight in space. With this knowledge however, we know that if we truly have the strength to lift a weight on an exercise that we should always have at least the same capacity to stop its motion.
Take an exercise like the front dumbbell raise. This works the front delts. That said, if you use only momentum to swing the weight up then you will be hard pressed to be able to stop it at some point during the rep as well, especially as we get towards the top of the movement. Instead, if you had chosen a weight that is lighter, and could be lifted under your muscle control then you would have had the ability to do so. The lightening of the weight will not detract from your muscle gains but actually boost them. How? By giving your delts a better chance to incur the load and be responsible for overcoming the resistance – serving as the spark for their overload and ultimate hypertrophy.
Now, is there ever a reason to use a heavier than usual weight and cheat it up through the concentric part of the lift? Definitely. This allows you to train with an eccentric overload focus. Things like cheat curls, or cheat laterals are muscle building exercises that allow you to use some momentum to swing the weight up in order to put the dumbbell or barbell in a position to be forced to lower slowly and overtax the eccentric muscle capabilities of a muscle in order to make it grow bigger.
If you look at an exercise like the lat pulldown, it gives you the chance to do either. Load it up and lean back as you swing the weight down in order to focus on the eccentric as I am suggesting here and attempt to stop it at different points in the range of motion in order to find your heaviest and most appropriate weight.
So, set the pin in the stack and perform a rep and see if you can stop the pulldown bar from moving at various points in the lift. Be sure to remember to do it at the very end of the rep as well since this will often be the hardest part to do this in. If you can control the weight, don’t assume you have found the right weight. You’ve only ensured that you haven’t found the wrong one! Now, raise the weight a bit and try again. Your goal should be to find the heaviest weight you can that still allows you to control it and stop its motion at any point in the lift. When you’ve found the weight you are unable to control, simply drop back a notch on the stack and that is the weight to train with.
When you are looking to build muscle and get ripped you need to apply muscle building science to your workouts. If you are looking for a complete step by step workout program that includes day by day meal plans, be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below. Use the program selector tool to find the program that matches your goals the best.
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