The not so secret secrets of lifting more.
It’s a common title, the secret of how to lift more, people often think its genetics or exogenous chemicals, but the real ‘secret’ is mostly in your environment, and whats going on in your head.
Every single one of us has had days where the hard work makes sense, and every single one of us has had days where lifting makes absolutely no sense. The most frustrating thing is you are the same flesh and blood each time, the only thing that changed was your mentality.
This article is honestly as much for us as it is for readers. Covid rush is over, we need to get back to heavy squats. Every way to get stronger falls into two categories, what makes YOU lift more and what makes you GROW more.
Generally, there are 5 known things that make a huge difference, split into two groups
Able to be manipulated:
- Motivation/arousal/fatigue (lift more)
- Motor learning factors (lift more)
- Muscle size (grow more)
Less able to be manipulated (more genetic)
- Muscle fiber types
- Segment lengths (height, limb lengths, torso length, etc.) / Muscle origins and insertions
NUMBER UNO – THE BIG ONE – MOTIVATION/AROUSAL
The importance of making things important can not be overstated. You need to manage your motivations. On top of that, you need to manage people/things that kill your motivation.
It is very hard to find people that care as much as you do. Many people are just at gym to take a insta photo, or some are there with a ‘whatever’ attitude to lifting, so finding people that really care if a lift is done or not is hard.
This is where we strongly recommend powerlifting gyms or creating a environment in your own gym. As much as we sell equipment, we’d way rather see people lifting together. If you want to get stronger, inviting someone over to train on your setup is likely to yield more results than buying another bar to listening to a podcast.
The ONLY thing that counts is the work. The only thing you are gaining during a session is mental strength. You can’t get stronger mid session physically, but you can apply more force to a bar by more focus (neuromuscular recruitment)
Side Rant – Arousal and mental inputs
This is not a popular opinion, but we think podcasts and background TV are leaving a lot behind. It’s a trap we’ve personally fallen into, where the gym is just a place to take in passive entertainment.
When gyms closed again, one of the first things you get is the ability to put on your own music, and to us, aggressive music gets more work done. Headphones, ammonia inhalants, and cranked music really does make a bigger deadlift.
Number Two – Technical Proficiency
The definition of greatness is to make the very difficult look very simple (Mike Tyson’s favourite coaching quote).
Having every joint in the right place on a max out squat, dead or bench is hard. You might think its easy, but we’d guess if you think its easy – your form is not perfect under load.
That leaves motor learning is the 'lowest' hanging fruit, people spend endless money on endless products, but having a good bar bath if far more likely to result in gains.
Every single rep from warmup to last rep of the day is a opportunity to do better. If you do more ‘bad’ reps than good reps in a day, its clear how your form will develop.
Side Point – Technical Lifting and accessories
Without a doubt, adding sleeves or a powerlifting belt is changing the manner you perform exercises. One of the easiest ways to feel motivated, AND reinforce better form (during a relearn process) is a new belt or sleeves etc, just be aware you are changing things.
Its fun, it's different and it's more than likely going to add weight to the bar. It also could massively change form, so make sure you spend time to dial in your equipment before maxing out.
Number 3, Muscular Size
For muscle, its largely able to be reduced to adequate stress and adequate recovery. Higher aroused training does take more recovery, because you are trying harder.
Every person, regardless of age, gender or training experience can add muscle. The rate of course is different, but every single person can do it. If you aren’t adding muscle, consider the above two, are you training hard in good form?