No doubt many of you ‘in and around’ my age (38 years) can relate to growing up in the movie era of the ‘Action Hero’s’ and as a massive fan my young mind was subsequently heavily influenced by the physiques of 2 of its pioneering legends! These are of course – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Who can remember the first time they witnessed the sheer size of Arnold in Conan The Barbarian? Or which young kid could fail to be impressed by the conditioning of Stallone in Rocky III? The list could go on and include the likes of Terminator, Predator and a certain John J Rambo! So naturally at a young age I decided that is how a body should look and upon turning 15 I decided to do something about it!
However, unbeknown to me at the time this chosen path was about to become very problematic, very soon. I knew where I wanted to get, ‘the look’ I wanted to achieve’ but I lacked a clear understanding of how to get there and made the fundamental error of associating big muscles with heavy weights. This basic assumption was compounded further by the ’28 year old Arnold’ in Pumping Iron, I was convinced 100% that to achieve big muscles you simply had to lift big weights! Having the emotional maturity of the average 15 year old didn’t help either, as a ‘Mister’ I’d have no problems at all taking on and coming to terms with heavy lumps of iron.
How foolish, the reason why I tell this little story is to reveal the fact that this simple assumption cost me dearly and the route of the problem was of course sub-standard technique. I progressed very little in the first 18 months physically but I did learn and come to understand the importance of proper technique as I was repeatedly forced (often by injury) to re-evaluate my approach. Looking back I can honestly say that well over 90% of the mistakes I’ve made in the gym spanning over 23 years of training were within those initial 18 formative months – such is the importance of proper technique. So let us again remind ourselves of the very straightforward equation to achieving effective muscle overload:
Adequate Resistance + Proper Technique + High Intensity = Effective Muscle Overload.
Notice how the end goal is Effective Muscle Overload? This can only be achieved when the techniques you employ fully focus on the target muscle(s) and their respective full range of motion. How can you expect to develop the full muscle if you don’t take advantage of an exercises full range of motion? Also see how I’ve chosen the term ‘Adequate Resistance’ in the above equation not just ‘weight?’ Adequate Resistance should always be determined by the use of Proper Technique. In other words the way you lift the weight (in order to create effective muscle overload) always takes precedent over what you lift. Bodybuilding is so much more than simply moving as much weight as possible from A to B by any means.
I subtitled this Tip – Laying the foundations, which is exactly what you’ll be doing by learning and applying the correct methods of each and every exercise you use.
Look at this way, would you build a house on the sand? Or would you instead dig down to the bedrock before laying a single brick? Perfecting technique is that bedrock that you’re building your physique on!
Furthermore when the proverbial storm comes (in the guise of serious poundage) your house (body) is going to stand, instead of being dashed to pieces through injury.
Do not become a ‘slave’ to weight, you will never be free to grow, instead seek to submit to perfect technique.
Some of you may be thinking this is 1 step back in order to take 2 forward. But the fact is the minute you recognise the fundamental role effective technique plays in your physical development you’ll already be taking 10 steps forward and well on the straight and narrow path to continual gains!
So let’s humble ourselves and make perfecting technique a priority and create that solid foundation/platform to build upon. Only by accepting that strength is a by-product achieved through proper technique, high intensity and adequate resistance can we go on to realise and fulfil our bodies full potential.
Take time out to search the web for examples of perfect technique, an hour or so on YouTube can be hugely beneficial and represent a fantastic investment!
Ps every rule has it’s exception and in this case it’s ‘Cheat Reps’ – but these are to be used sparingly in addition to perfect technique, not instead of!