I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me “I don’t want to lift heavy because I am afraid I will injure myself”.
But it’s perfectly possible to injure yourself with a warm up weight.
It’s not the load that causes the injury, it’s when form breaks down. This can happen under any kind of load, if you are not paying attention.
The real question is, why do people let form break down when the load gets heavy?
Why don’t you lift heavy the same as you lift light?
Why don’t you stop when you feel your form start to go?
For some people, it is ego. They want to successfully make the weight, even with bad form.
For others, it is embarrasment. They don’t want to drop the bar or have other people see them fail.
Sometimes, it is simply lack of awareness. Not being able to detect when form is deteriorating.
If you train on your own, you owe it to yourself to monitor your form and to develop a better understanding of when your form is not quite right.
No-one else is there to do it for you, and you don’t want to find out you have poor form by getting an injury.
A common trap to fall into is: you never go heavy because you are afraid of injury. But you also never attempt to improve your technique enough, so that you can go heavier without injury!
So you train with light weights and never make any progress.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Here’s an exercise to try, next time you train.
Video every one of your warm up sets.
Watch the video back after each set.
If they do not all look exactly alike, you need to fix what is going awry.
The only thing that should change as the weight gets heavier is the speed that the bar moves. Body position, technique and range of motion should remain the same for all warm up sets.
To help you detect whether each rep is the same, make sure you
- film from the correct angle – side on is usually best
- can see your whole body in the frame
- have a consistent indicator for range of motion
If you committed a month to making all of your warm up sets in all your big lifts look exactly the same, your strength would increase significantly.
Because instead of compensating for lack of strength by limiting range of motion (e.g. not going down as low in the squat), or compromising form (e.g. rounding your back in the deadlift), you will be attempting perfect form each and every time you lift.
You know what they say: you are only as strong as your weakest link.
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