Every gym has that guy who lifts a ton of weight but doesn't ever really move it anywhere. He just piles all the gyms weight onto the leg press and does some sort of little jerk type twitch never really actually moving the load properly. Or there's the guy who always grabs the biggest dumbbells and bicep curls them a centimeter up, swinging them everywhere, lifting just to show off.
Every gym has this guy if not a couple.
It is common in the fitness community to hear people striving for the heaviest lift. There is nothing wrong with this, when max strength is the goal.
You'll hear, "NEW PR BRO!" (personal record)
Sometimes this can lead to some confusion about how things are done when it comes to lifting.
Something anyone lifting or starting lifting should know is weight maters but not like you think it does.
It is not about "how much" you lift, it is about how you lift it and what the intensity, tempo, and purpose is behind it.
If you want to get super strong, yes you are going to have to lift bigger weights but it is a gradual process and should not be something someone just begins with. That is another blog, for another time.
But for someone who is trying to build muscle it comes down to how the muscle fibers are activated and stressed. The type of stress you place on them is above all the most important factor in muscle growth when it comes to the work out portion of the equation. I say work out portion because nutrition is also key.
If you can correctly fatigue a muscle with a lighter weight by controlling the movement then it doesn't matter what weight it is, you are not here to lift for ego, you are here to grow and build more muscle.
What you do not want is to play it to easy and not fatigue the muscle. If you have a rep range of 10 and you get to 10 and it feels like you could probably do another 10-20 then you are lifting too light.
You also do not want to lift too heavy. You want to be able to feel the muscle fibers working and fatiguing. Each portion of the exercise from the contraction to the stretch is a beautiful piece of an little muscle symphony. Each plays their part in muscle damage/metabolic demand in a different way.
You may want to get strong and look ripped but you can only train for one goal at a time. Each goal requires a different set of guidelines and bases. Pick one then move onto another.
You want the weight to hit your range in a fatigued state/near failure state. The reps and weight aren't near as important as how you complete the exercise. You can go in, hit the set reps, work with a good weight and have done little to no work on the muscles you were trying to work. It takes that mind muscle connection with intention to actually make a muscle work how you want and need it to.
Here are a few tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your workout:
When it comes to volume work, you do not want to rest for long bouts of time. You want to take minimal rest. In this case you are not working with "heavy" weights nor working towards max strength so the time between sets does not require a full recovery. You can keep it between 45 seconds and 2 minutes.
If you are working towards max strength then rest would be longer. You would want at least 3 minutes between sets.
Focus on not throwing the weight around. Maximize your results by making conscious efforts to move the weight and resist the weight. You are being intentional in every part of the movement. You want to resist the weight going down and not let it rest in the middle of reps, keeping the muscle active, nor bring in other joints into the movement to compensate.
You want everything tight and in place.
Your shoulders should not round forward at the bottom of the bicep curl. You are taking that tension away from the bicep and allowing your shoulder to compensate for the movement.
Like I said above, pick a weight that matches your rep scheme and intended intensity. You want to feel the muscle actively working throughout the movement. If you are just purely struggling throughout or falling out of good positions or techniques, it's probably too heavy.
Don't be ashamed of the weight you're lifting, lift what is right for your body, strength and goals.
Think more long-term, you don't want to be injured, that is counterproductive. You can achieve so much more by fiddling with your reps, tempo, and sets than you can mindlessly throwing weights around or lifting heavy like a jackass to impress the guy or girl next to you.
Disconnect from your ego, leave it at the door and get connected with your body.