Going to the gym to workout can be intimidating. You look around and you see many folks lifting some crazy-heavy weights. You feel a sense of pressure that if you don’t lift a heavy dumbbell or you select a low weight on your favorite machine, you’ll look weak, feeble, and maybe even suffer a snicker or eye-roll.
Do not worry about how you look at the gym. Focus on how you feel.
When you lift a weight or use a machine, yes, it should feel heavy, but not so heavy that you either:
- Only manage to do a couple of reps each time.
- Abbreviate your motion because it feels too heavy to fully push, pull, or lift your chosen weight.
- Feel pain or too much tension around your muscles or joints.
When you select a heavier weight you often miss out on lifting controlled, engaged, and extended. What do I mean?
Controlled – you feel comfortable that you can complete the exercise without your elbows flaring, your knees wobbling, or your back rounding.
Engaged – your mind should be able to focus on a mental connection with the muscle you are working. Feel it working. Don’t be distracted by how heavy the weight feels.
Extended – don’t shortcut your motion. You should not abbreviate your leg press or your bicep curl because the weight is too heavy.
The next time you lift weights at the gym, don’t worry about what others may think of your chosen weight–their approval does not lead to an increase in your fitness.