Feel is one of the most important components of training for physique. No matter what gym you go to you’ll see someone slinging a barbell around, doing a curl with little regard or knowledge of what he is doing. He’s just trying to heave as much weight as possible, shouting and screaming, giving himself a hernia trying to throw the weight up. Basically, the whole point of body-building is muscular contraction … and that muscular contracting is both the key and secrect to success. If you don’t FEEL the muscle, you can’t grow the muscle.
We’re all guilty of it at some time or another. We buy into societal pressure to be macho and compete on the gym floor. Granted it’s a bit of fun, but when trying to train seriously it’ll only ever get you so far (trust me, this was my first year of university in a nut shell). But if you want to build that impressive physique, the one that satisfies your ego, then you must leave your ego in the changing room.
Every now and again, if you feel you may have fallen into the ego trap, it’s good to go back to the basics. Perform a ‘rehearsal’ workout using extremely light weights, perfect slow motion form and high repetitions. Feel your personal contraction points, adjust you feet and hands slightly, add a slight arc or twist to the movement to maximise the contraction, play with the depth of motion and most importantly open up the mind-muscle pathways by fostering an awareness of the contraction points and movements.
A common question I get asked is id I believe in using heavy weights. The answer, in short, is yes … but it must come with a definition of what ‘heavy’ means to me. I personally believe if the last rep of the set is the last one you could possibly complete then the weight is heavy. It could be 4 reps, it could be 20 reps, it’s a matter of intensity. If you’re pushing to the max on a 20 rep set that becomes a heavy weight, same goes for a 6 rep set.
Weight’s being ‘heavy’ or ‘light’ is a misnomer. It’s all relative and they refer to how difficult something is to move under a give set of perimeters. The terms heavy vs light can leave people feeling intimidated or dismissive and that can lead to a training plan that lacks in many things that are important. Properly applied, every weight has a use … so don’t be afraid to throw those trisets, giant sets and supersets in and fail on a 10kg bench press!