by Henry Gould – Feb 5th, 2020
In life, we all know that Mom’s are bound to remind us of a few things:
1) “Take a jacket, it might be cold!”
2) “Did you say please and thank you??”
3) “Don’t try and lift that, it’s too heavy, you’ll pull your back!”
Fear of lifting heavy things for fear of injury is likely justified. People hurt themselves all the time trying to lift heavy things! Not only in the real world (piano up a flight of stairs) but for sure in the gym (CrossFit fail compilations are tough but fun to watch…).
In reality, if heavy lifts like squats, deadlifts and bench press are done with correct form, at a weight your body can handle, they are some of the best movements you can do for building strength, burning fat, protecting against injury, increasing bone density and boosting your metabolism.
I mean… who wouldn’t want all of the above?
We may not be able to squat as much as Cumby (who can) but we can alter our workouts to focus on the occasional heavy lifts in order to see the benefits over time in our training. That doesn’t mean going heavy every day; in fact, that’s probably the worst thing you can do.
Below are a few tips to incorporating heavy lifts into your routine, so you can soon be a hero moving furniture for your Mom.
Learn Correct Form
- If you’ve never done deadlifts, squats or bench press, please please please seek professional guidance before attempting.
- The Yard Online Training Series has a number of great video tutorials, so if you sign up for a package you’ll get access to proper instruction, technique and form.
- If you’re doing a group class at Yard Athletics, Ilan, Sam and Torin are there to help. Pull them aside and ask for assistance on technique if you’re not sure you’re doing it right. Or, book a 1:1 session to get the maximum benefit of personalized coaching.
- Even professional weightlifters start with the empty bar before adding plates on.
- No matter what your maximum squat / dead / bench is, always start with the empty bar, work on form, and slowly progress with weights.
- Goes without saying, if you walk into the gym and start doing heavy lifts without warm-up and stretch, you are asking to get injured. I know because it’s happened to me. Many times I’ve gone into the gym thinking I felt loose and ready to lift. Wrong.
- Warm-up should be 5-10 minutes, and focus on full range of motion, stretching, activating all body parts. Just because you’re doing bench doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stretch your legs and back.
6 Reps Max
- If you’re truly pushing it and going for a heavy amount of weight, shoot for no higher than 6 reps maximum.
- If the weight is so heavy that your form becomes compromised, the weight is too heavy to lift. All reps should be able to be done with good form.
- Especially with deadlifts, because it takes so much energy and force to lift a heavy weight, 2-4 reps is a perfectly OK range to aim for.
Shoes / Straps / Belt
- Many weightlifters opt for specific shoes, straps or belts when doing heavy lifts.
- Weightlifting shoes have a hard plastic sole that is raised, allowing for a better leg angle throughout the hinge movement.
- Many people prefer doing squats and deadlifts in bare feet, as they feel it gives them a stronger platform to the ground. Experiment with this during your next set of squats or deadlifts and see how it feels.
- Straps and Belts both have plusses and minuses. Straps are used almost only for hinge pull exercises (i.e. deadlifts, clean, snatch) allowing more of the force to load onto the wrist and arm rather than the grip of the hand and fingers. Usually you can lift more as your grip doesn’t become compromised, however this can put a shearing force on the shoulder and rotator cuff leading to potential injury. Sadly I know this from experience, so be alert…
- As mentioned above, heavy lifts should not be done day after day. Unless you are on a carefully managed program from a professional trainer, taking at least 1-2 days rest after heavy lifts is crucial.
- The body can’t repair and get stronger if it’s repeatedly being asked to lift heavy lifts, and will eventually break down.