There is no better feeling in the gym than reaching a new personal best (PB) on your lifts and it’s also a great indicator of the progress in your strength level as it increases. Occasionally you’ll feel like you’ve hit a brick wall with your lifts as no matter what you do, the weight barely seems to increase. This is usually known as a plateau and may also involve a similar stall in physique changes.
These tips are tried and tested to maximise your efforts and ensure you reach those new personal bests in all your lifts.
Whether it’s a machine or a human, the principle is the same; fuel correctly to achieve peak performance. A good pre-workout meal should be 60-90 mins before your workout and will include mainly protein and complex carbs to help fuel your strength session.
TAKE LONG ENOUGH REST BETWEEN SETS
Take powerlifters for example, although they’re not lifting for very long they’re pushing their bodies extremely hard as they lift close to or at their maximum capacity on every rep. They maximise this by giving themselves an extended rest period of 3-5 minutes in between sets to get the body reach for the next gruelling set so you’ll need to do the same.
Breathing is extremely important as it helps control blood pressure when lifting weights. Inhalation will be during the eccentric portion of an exercise (usually lowering of the weight), and exhalation during the concentric phase (the push/pull part of the movement).
ENGAGE YOUR CORE
Your core is a powerful part of your body that can be used in the majority of movements so making full use of it is key for improving your lifts. It will act as a central point of power and can help with an explosive part of a movement to shift more weight.
This is always extremely important when exercising however making sure your muscles that are being worked are properly stretched and loose will increase blood flow and oxygen to those muscles and help them perform more efficiently. Dynamic stretches are fundamental when performing strength exercises.
IMPROVE YOUR GRIP
Making sure you have a good grip of the weights is one of the most important factors in improving your lifts. Experiment with different grips such as overhand and underhand and find what works best for you. Other thing such as chalk, liquid chalk, wrist straps, etc are also all very beneficial.
THINK ABOUT YOUR STANCE
When performing a standing exercise such as squats or deadlifts practice different stances such as a wide or close stance. Your foot position will be a major factor for your power/weight distribution as well as your balance so make sure it feels comfortable and helps to maximise your lifting ability.
PSYCH YOURSELF UP
To lift heavy you need to be in the right frame of mind. It’s not something you just go straight into as you need to prepare yourself mentally for the effort it will take. Whether it’s choosing the right song, focusing on your breathing or having a friend give you some words of encouragement, you’ll find something that will psych you up just as you’re about to break your old personal best and reach your new one.
DON’T DO TOO MUCH BEFOREHAND
If you’re trying to increase your lifts it might be a good idea not to go too crazy beforehand. A vigorous warm up or lots of lighter sets before the heavier ones might seem like a good idea at the time but they will increase the likelihood of you running out of steam when it comes to hitting new levels of weight.