Saturday, March 28, 2015

Back to Fitness Basics: Lifting Smarter not Harder

How is your health journey so far? By this point you must be doing well with your diet, hydration, and sleep schedule. In a previous blog, we learned about the value of lifting heavy versus cardio exercise. The blog this week is about how to “lift smarter not harder” by using proper form and technique. 
By this point in time, I am sure you are familiar with the normal gym goers that visit your gym. What you may or may not have noticed is poor technique by some participants, that may be the result of simply lifting too much weight. I tell my clients this same thing that I will share with you….. You are a bodybuilder and not a weight lifter. By this point I mean that your goal in the gym is to become stronger and develop more lean muscle tissue. Sure, improved numbers on the amount of weight lifted can be a great plus to your goal, but it isn’t the ultimate goal that is improving your overall health. So as we will discuss further soon, it important to “lift smarter not harder”.
Without going into the specifics of proper lifting form for each main lift, lets think of any lift that is similar to a Deadlift, or any other exercise, that requires lifting heavy weight off the ground. As we use this exercise example, is it a good idea to lift with the legs or the back? The obvious correct answer is to lift with your legs and not your back, but do you know why? “Repeated flexion also adds to spinal stress, greatly increasing discal pressure and continually stretching the posterior spinal tissues. Over time, repeated flexion can lead to tissue breakdown. Microtrauma of this type gives rise to classical postural pain syndromes”1.
If you start to find that your lifting form is becoming poor as well in the middle of you set, try reducing the weight in order to lift all of the reps in the set with proper form. A great way to estimate how many reps you should lift, try finding your One Rep Max (1RM). Always have a spotter when finding this number. Once you have this number, use 80% of your 1RM and perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps with this new weight. “For the client who cannot complete maximum lifting, start with a weight they can comfortably lift and gradually increase the weight until they find a weight that feels challenging by the last couple of repetitions of the rep range.”2.
Resistance training can be a great addition to your health journey. Proper lifting however, needs to be of most importance if you ever want to make healthy progress and minimize the risk of injury. Always use a spotter when you lift heavy weight. Lifting with proper technique can help you to progress in your health goals by “lifting smarter, not harder.”

  1. Proper lifting techniques for a healthy back. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from
How Much Should My Clients Lift? (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from

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