The best way to gain muscle and strength is by lifting heavy weights. This is the most common advice you’ll find when it comes to achieving your goals. The most common, correct, advice you’ll find, anyway.
But how exactly do we define heavy?
What does “lifting heavy” mean to you?
What’s considered heavy to one person might not be to another. And visa versa. Heavy lifting is a subjective thing because, obviously, we do not all have the same physical abilities.
When I was starting out, the thought of lifting heavy evoked visions of powerlifters and bodybuilders squatting barbells laden with multiple 45 lb plates; a weight so heavy that the bar bends across the back.
How was I ever going to lift that much? What a daunting thought. And a wrong one at that.
I thought everything I did was just puny and insignificant. And it was puny. But it was most definitely NOT insignificant. Yes, the numbers were small, but they were heavy. For me.
And that’s all that matters. If the weight feels heavy to you, then congratulations, you are officially “lifting heavy!”
Lift, for Heavy’s sake!
Once you’ve become a card-carrying member of the Heavy Lifting Club, don’t get all comfy thinking you can just use the same weight and expect to see results. A.B.C. Always Be Challenging.
What you want to do is increase your weights whenever possible. This method, known as Progressive Overload, is key to lifting heavy. Because if you never challenge yourself, you will never get stronger, and the amount of weight you can lift will never increase.
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Ditch the comparisons.
There have been multiple times along my fitness journey I’ve compared my weight lifting numbers to others. I’d see ladies on fitness forums lifting upwards of 275lbs for their top set of squats, and I so wanted to do that, too.
Obviously, I knew it would take some time to get there, I’m not that dumb. But starting out not being able to squat even 65 lbs for reps was downright defeating. It wasn’t that I only tried it once and gave up. I hammered away at squats for a long time, with little improvement.
Assuming I could take the same road to 275 as everyone else was my mistake. Turns out I don’t have the ideal body proportions that would have allowed me to progressively build up my squat numbers. So I had to take a different road.
Though my squat has vastly improved, I still had to get real with myself and understand that I just might not be capable of lifting large amounts of weight for that particular lift.
Does this mean I’m giving up on big squat numbers? Hell no! But no longer comparing myself to others has greatly reduced the stress I was putting on myself, and now I can fully enjoy the process.
The absolute worst thing you can do along your fitness journey is to compare your progress to others. Comparing your lifting numbers to what someone else can lift will only serve to sew doubt in your head about what you’re capable of achieving. This doubt will fester and grow, leading to a severe lack of confidence in yourself, and can eventually lead to a place we don’t like very much. A destination called Quitting.
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Just do you.
Lifting heavy is defined by you, and you alone.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Only compare yourself to you. Again, if the weight is heavy for you, then the weight is heavy.
Try to outdo yourself with every workout so that you can continue to progress and lift heavier the next time. Because lifting weight that is heavy for you will get you the results you want.