Today was going to be tough.
Despite my ego whispering in my ear, I walked away from the 45kg dumbbells and sheepishly picked up the 32.5kg ones.
Making sure that nobody was looking, I carried them back to my bench and proceeded to rep out 10 bench presses.
And it hurt. The next set I dropped the weight again, down to 30kg.
Feel it, don’t move it.
I could have, like any other week, hoisted the 45kg’s up and grunted animalistic sounds whilst pushing them upwards.
By the end of the set, my triceps would be burning and my front deltoids shouting obscenities but my chest would be lacking the all-important ‘pump’, characterised by a swelling of blood in the muscle.
Too many men are more focused with the weight they are moving, forgetting that, when training for aesthetics the aim is not to move as much weight as possible; rather, the intention becomes about feeling the right muscle contract and then relax.
Powerlifting and strength training is all about teaching your body to recruit the maximal amount of muscle fibres and overloading our Central Nervous System for one, or several, all out attempts.
Bodybuilding is about applying focused and direct strain on a specific muscle group through isolation.
Struggling through that set of shoulder presses that’s clearly 10kg too heavy is great for your ego, not so much for your muscles.
Spending time under tension.
Next time you hit the gym, tuck your ego between your legs and drop the weight by 15-20%.
If Bench Pressing, follow a tempo of 2-3-1-0; this means you’ll spend two seconds lowering the weight, three seconds stalled at the bottom, and one second exploding to the start position.
When performing Pull Ups, place a one or two-second static hold with your chest at the bar.
Squatting? You’ll have less (re: more) fun if you use a tempo of 2-1-2-0. Two seconds down, 1 second holding at the bottom, and two seconds coming up. This will also help you build explosive power out of the hole.
Deadlifting is an interesting one. Yank it off the ground as quickly as possible then lower to a 3 count. Make sure the weight comes to a dead stop before pulling your next rep.
Tuck your ego between your legs.
Everyone wants to lift the most weight.
Which is fine, as long as you understand that you might end up looking more like the Incredible Bulk than the Incredible Hulk.
Today, by the end of the second set my chest was fried and filled with blood. By the time I got to the cable flies, I had gone up a full cup size.
Next time, when I focus on powerlifting, I’ll hoist the big weights but for now, my muscles are going to have to learn how to deal with increased time under tension in an attempt to become more swole.