Picture yourself right before you go for a heavy weight that you are attempting for the first time or something that you are not completely confident about. It is completely natural to be a little bit anxious; maybe a bit fearful…this is NORMAL! These are the sorts of situations where people tend to make mistakes; it is also one of the worst situations to make a mistake. If you have been around the coaches at L2 Fitness we preach these almost daily, but here are few pieces of advice that will have you well on your way to conquering your fitness goals and, hopefully, heavy weights!
Make each rep look the same (perfect)
This may seem obvious, but the first thing to happen as you panic is to revert back to old habits. If your old habits are rooted in poor technique you will revert back to the one thing that will NOT help you achieve your personal records. This is why we preach perfect technique, even when the weight is LIGHT. What we are trying to ingrain is the movement pattern that will allow you to be most powerful, successful version of you.
I have personal experience with this one. Throughout the years I have always been refining my bench technique due to having a very poor attention to detail in my younger years lifting. When things get heavy from time to time, I will generally do weird things that will always make my bench press harder than it needs to be. For instance, this is also one of the most common things people do, when I panic I won’t drag the bar over my chest after I un-rack the bar out of the bench press. What tends to happen in this situation is the bar is un-rack over my face and when I start the lift I am out of position…this puts way to much stress on my elbows and my press ends up looking very poor (and its harder!).
The way to fix this is quite simple! Have someone make sure that all your reps look GOOD. No matter if it is a squat, leg extension, bench press, or arm curl, pay attention to how things look and more importantly, how they feel. Generally if it feels OFF (or painful) it probably isn’t being performed to the standard it needs to. The more GOOD reps you accumulate, the more likely you are going to revert back to your perfect form when things get heavy.
Lift slowly in order to earn the right to lift fast
One of the main things that we are very adamant about here at L2 Fitness is paying attention to the finer details in your technique. The easiest way to assess where you are weak/breaking down is to lift the weight over a longer period of time (eccentric control). This process has two benefits:
- Every where you want to rush the movement is exactly where you need to focus on the most. You are generally weaker in these spots.
- It is VERY HARD and will give you an amazing training effect.
When you do eccentrically controlled lifting you have to be very conscious on where your body wants to use its flight response (rushing). This is generally where you need to flip the switch on your brain’s natural response to panic, and lift even SLOWER. We have found great success using this method because it trains our clients how to master their body’s response to areas of weakness…plus in the process make them extremely strong and resilient.
What is the easiest way to apply this method?
- Slowly descend on some of your lifts for an extended period of time, generally 3-4 seconds.
- Have someone count you eccentric portion of the lift. If you don’t have a counter, use your phone timer app!
- Make sure to brace and hold your technique for the ENTIRE time frame.
One thing I will note about this is not to overdo it. Keep your eccentric lifts to max 5 seconds because it can be very taxing and hard to breath. Going back to the first point is that if it isn’t done perfect it is ineffective. Form generally breaks down at the 5 second point.
At the end of the day when we lift weights it isn’t always going to be perfect, this is a given. Our mindset just needs to be that we constantly aiming for perfection. This mindset allows us to only lift weights in the most efficient and safe manner possible. It also happens to be the most effective way to get stronger!