I’m a big proponent of pushing past one’s self-imposed limitations, as many of us can fall prey to the “I Can’t Do Anymore” Syndrome, and thus falling short of our full potential and reaching our goals.
This happens frequently, particularly when lifting weights. I often hear, “It’s too strenuous, the weight is too heavy, I can’t do it” etc. Blah Blah!
But what about those who push themselves beyond a safe point, where their effort no longer is a benefit, but rather becomes a hindrance instead?
I call it the “I Can Lift a Gazillion Pounds a Gazillion Times” Affliction!
Of course, we should all push ourselves to go past our limitations (safely), and we should all attempt to carry out those last repetitions to fatigue–that’s how we progress and get stronger!
But it’s important to add this caveat: It should all be done with GOOD FORM and PROPER TECHNIQUE, otherwise start counting from 1 again!
No one gets stronger or progresses if they are lifting a heavy weight they can’t lift properly, and if you can’t lift with good form, it doesn’t matter how many times you can lift it!
So how do you know if you’re lifting enough or too much?
Remember this rule of thumb: The last 3 repetitions of that exercise should be difficult and all you can do while still maintaining proper form!
Notice, during the last few reps of a set of push ups if for example, your chin is jutting forward. If you’re sticking your head out in attempt to get lower to the floor and your shoulders are shrugging up to your ears at the same time to keep yourself off the floor, then you’re not lifting with good form. And no doubt your neck and shoulders will begin to hurt. And if your low back starts to hurt, that’s likely because your stomach is sagging, and if your stomach is sagging than your low back is swaying, and now you look more like a worn out mattress instead of someone doing a proper push up!
Another few examples to know if you’re lifting too much and you’ve lost your form are:
On a bench press, if you arch your back on the lift; or on a bicep curl, if your upper body rocks or you move your elbows away from your torso; or if during a hands behind the head ab crunch, you’re pulling your head instead of contracting your abdominals!
If this sounds a bit too familiar, then it might just be time to either lessen the amount of repetitions or reach for a lighter weight!
By doing so, you save yourself from injury down the road, and when you lift with good form, you target the muscles properly, which is a smart and important move towards ultimately achieving and maintaining your goals for greater strength!
So, lifting that last rep IS a good thing–as long as you follow good form throughout the lift!