Are You Lifting Too Heavy?
If you’ve read any of my previous articles on how to build lean muscle mass or how to retain as much strength and muscle while shredding down you’ll know I’m all about lifting heavy baby.
4 – 6 reps, the ideal range for building both size and strength for a natural gym-goer.
It took me many years of hitting the default 10 reps per exercises to come to this realization, and now I have the progress I’ve made has solidified this for me, I’m an advocate of low rep training.
Heavy presses, squats, deadlifts – you name it.
That said I do believe in adding a touch of isolation to your workout regime, the flat barbell bench press is not merely enough to build an impressive chest, nor is the military press solely enough to sculpt those elusive three dimensional deltoids…
Every other day in the gym there’s 2 isolation exercises which are a great addition to any routine as long as they are performed correctly – unfortunately most guys end up letting their ego get in the way and as a result their form goes downhill rapidly while any results or progress they can expect from performing the exercise are nullified.
The Dumbell Fly
The dumbbell fly, regardless of whether it’s performed on a flat or inline bench is a great tool to build up the outer chest, however the dumbbell fly is one of few exercises that cannot be performed overly heavy (or in a low rep range) without form deteriorating quickly.
There’s numerous ways and methods personal trainers and fitness magazines use to describe how to perform the dumbbell fly… many of which don’t make a great deal of sense.
As stupid as this sounds the best analogy I’ve heard when it comes to performing the dumbbell fly is to imagine you’re hugging a tree.
Your arms should remain bent the duration of the movement – you don’t hug with straight arms.
When performed too heavy this hugging movement turns into a dumbbell press with a minute flying movement at the top.
The dumbbell press is a great exercise if you’re intending on performing the dumbbell press, but if you’re doing flys I recommend selecting a weight you can perform a solid 8 tree hugging reps with before upping the weight (and working in the 6 – 8 rep range).
Attempting to replicate the load and the 4 – 6 rep range used on other exercises will result in a half-assed dumbbell fly and a high risk of injury.
The Side Lateral Raise
Second only to the military press, the side lateral raise is a staple in my shoulder building arsenal.
When it comes to the side lateral raise the dumbbell should be raised until they are at least parallel and lowered all the way back down to your sides.
Once again, when it comes to using excessive amounts of weight for the side lateral raise the result is often…
Extremely Poor ROM
The hardest part of the side lateral raise is without a doubt the mid-way portion of the repetition, by working in a small, bottom portion range of motion you’re not activating the muscle in its entirety. you won’t be benefiting from the potential size and strength gains because you’re only performing a portion of the exercise.
Now, if you’ve watched Generation Iron or any training footage of the Olympia Monsters such as Kai Greene or Jay Cutler you’ll notice that yes, they do only work a very small range of motion on the majority of their exercises.
“SJ, why should I listen to you, you’re tiny compared to those guys who use partial range of motion?!”
‘Enhanced’ athletes train a different way to natural gym-goers in order to get results, the key to building a timeless physique naturally comes down to progressive overload and a combination of low rep, heavy weight training focusing on form and full range of motion.
The enhanced athlete focusing on keeping the tension on the muscle, full range of motion = reduced tension at the top and bottom of the movement.
Unless you’re juiced to the gills there’s no reason to be working in such a small range of motion.
Bouncing Your Knees To Get Out Of The Hole
Your stance should be shoulder width and you should maintain a slight bend in your knee (I have seen quite a few people performing both the military press and side lateral raise with locked out knees, however for stability and reduced risk of injury a slightly bent knee is superior).
At the bottom of the repetition you should lower the dumbbells to your side and pause for a split second before driving the dumbbells back upwards with a slight bend in your arms – no bouncing.