Hitting new personal records is one of the greatest feelings for avid gym goers. Knowing that you have developed your body to be better physically is very rewarding and motivates you to hit even more personal goals. However hitting your lifting goals is easier said than done. Without a strategy or an idea on how to do it achieving your goals can be quite difficult. Whether you are chasing a new personal best or you think you have plateaued, here are some tips on how to improve your lifts:
Just like anything else in life progress takes practice. Whether you are trying to get better at the bench press, squats, dead lifts, or anything else in order to be able to lift more for that lift you are going to have to practice doing it more. By practicing the lift more you will be more used to feeling what that amount of weight feels like and you will be able to master what tempo feels best for you. It is best to spread these lifts out throughout the week so that your muscles have time to recover. For example if you normally only do bench press once a week up it to twice a week. So if you do bench press on Monday do it again on Friday.
Warming up your muscles preps them for the stress that you are about to put them through. If you have not warmed up then your muscles will not be ready to perform to the best of their abilities. Think of your workout like a test. If you do not prepare for it you will not do as well as if you had prepared for it. Not warming up can also result in injury because your joints and muscles will be tight. When you are warming up be sure to get your heart pumping a little bit and get your body loose. This should include doing dynamic stretching and doing the exercise at a low weight and gradually building the weight up to your desired weight. Surprising your muscles by doing a heavy weight right away will be nothing but trouble for you, spare yourself the injuries and warm up.
Improve your Core Strength
Better core strength means you will have an easier time balancing the weight. If your core has an easier time with balancing the weight then your major muscle group balancing the weight will expand less energy. This will allow you to engage the major muscle group for that lift more and thus allow you to lift more weight.
Focus on your Form
Trying to lift more weight with poor form will simply increase your chances of getting injured. Be sure that your motions are controlled and that at no time in the lift you are bouncing the weight in any way. Always make sure your back is straight and if you feel any unusual discomfort end the rep right away. This also shows the need for a spotter. A spotter may be able to see better than you can if you are using correct form or not. A spotter can also help you out if you are unable to finish the rep. Not using a spotter could put you behind the 8-ball in some cases so you are better safe than sorry. The reassurance of having someone there to help you out if you fail will not force you to sabotage your form in order to rack the weight again. Remember you are in the gym to improve your physique why run the risk of harming it using poor form.
Increase the Amount of Weight you are using
In order to be able to lift more weight you have to practice exactly that: lifting more weight! Try adding incrementally more weight to your lift every time you practice your lift. If you are unable to pass a certain weight no sweat. Unload your weight and work your way back up. This change in weight will also help to prevent you from plateauing.
Rest longer between sets
Resting longer between sets will allow you to replenish the amount of ATP (the energy molecule in your body) thus providing you with more energy and allowing you to lift more weight. Having shorter rest times will work your cardio more but it will not allow you to lift more weight in your next set. Keep your resting period between 3 to 5 minutes, shorter than 3 minutes and you will be too tired to lift at your best and longer than 5 minutes is an unnecessarily long time.
Results are not going to show up overnight. Do not get discouraged and be patient with your progress. If you keep working hard and stick to your schedule you will see improvements come over time. This also brings about the importance of tracking your lifts. By tracking you will be able to better see what gains you have been making. Rome was not built in one day and neither is an improvement in your lifts, good things come to those that wait!
Achieving a goal can be made infinitely easier if you have a plan. Chasing a goal without a plan will cause you to expend energy in unnecessary ways. Using these tips and working hard at your set plan will allow you to lift more weight. It is like I always say: It is better to train smarter than to train harder!