Get Stronger Without Risking Injury: "Adding More Weight" Isn't the Answer.

Some other, better principles to consider…

June 12, 2019

Take a look at that header photo. You can tell by the look on my face I’m really working hard, even though 25 pounds is not a ton of weight for me to curl for 4 reps (which is the amount I did in today’s “photo shoot” with my homie Will). I probably could’ve handled 40+ pounds relatively easily. Honestly, I don’t even know.

That’s because I do most of my working out with very manageable weight, and instead focus on other things to ramp up the intensity and muscle growth. These are things that I want to talk about today for #WeightRoomWednesday, because I commonly see people in the weight room focusing too much on their numbers. Chasing numbers leads to subpar results, sh** form, and even injury. I don’t want those for you.

So instead of worrying about how much weight you’re lifting, I’d encourage you to focus on well, your focus! It should be on the muscles you’re working. If you don’t know what muscles you’re working for a specific exercise, hire a trainer or take 10 seconds to google it. Then focus on the muscle(s) you’re working.

You will be surprised at how much you’re able to really tax the muscle(s) you’re working with a safe and manageable amount of weight that you can actually CONTROL. This approach will keep you in the gym for the long haul, instead of on the sidelines nursing an injury.

Once you have your focus focused, with an amount of weight you can truly control, you will be able to ramp up the tension in your muscles. For the picture I took today, I was flexing the SH** out of my bicep and holding it like that for a solid 3 seconds at the top… You don’t think I made that intense facial expression on purpose, to look good online, do you??

It was definitely a better approach than trying to hoist a 50-pound dumb bell up for internet credibility. I’d probably have flung it up recklessly- compensating and improperly using a bunch of muscles besides my biceps, while risking the health of one or multiple joints (likely elbows and shoulders in this case, possibly even the lower back).

As I’ve said before, use your MUSCLES, not momentum.

In conclusion, here’s a simple equation to keep in mind for better long-term results in the gym:

More focus + more control + more tension > More weight.

Down With The Fitness is here to give you simple, actionable tips that will improve your health. If you found this helpful, feel free to check out the archives for more. I'm pretty proud of the rabbit hole this thing has become.

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Have fun and do your best,

Matt Koch

Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach (American Council on Exercise; Precision Nutrition)