Why Heavy Is Better. (With Compound Excercises)

crossfit-girl-Laura-Plumley1

I’ve been lifting weights since I was in high school.  I’ve been lifting weights the RIGHT way for about two years.  Allow me to explain.

When I was gangly teenager, I committed the cardinal sin of doing high rep workouts that did not involve multi-joint, compound exercises like squats, dead-lifts, and bench-press.  The result was a body that was lean and toned, but not strong, and my physique showed this clearly.

Even though I’d been told for years that getting big involved doing the power-lifts like squats and dead-lifts, and doing those for a limited number of reps as heavy as possible, I ignored that advice.

I ignored it because quite frankly, those exercises sucked.  They hurt like hell, and if you had bad form, it was embarrassingly easy to mess them up in front of everyone and possibly send yourself to the local chiropractor.  Then one day another realization hit me as I stared at my skinny, weak body after years of hitting the gym day in and day out.

I was a pussy.

I was afraid to push my body to its limits.  I was afraid to make pain a daily part of my lifting regimen.

So I changed course.  I started squatting three days a week, and dead-lifting once, or vice versa.  I did bench press.  I did barbell rows and military press.  All these exercises were compound, meaning they worked numerous parts of my body at the same time.  This is incredibly important for building mass, because when more muscles are engaged in an exercise, they trigger a stronger natural adrenal response of testosterone in your body, which in turns helps fuel muscle growth and recovery.

The other key change I made was that I went heavy.  I made it a goal to do five reps of five sets for each exercise I did, and on the fifth rep, my muscles would be worked to absolute failure.

Why does this work?  When you lift weights, the desired outcome of each lifting session should be to tear the fibers of your muscles down so that they can be rebuilt again bigger and stronger than they were previously.  However, in order to do this, one must send a signal to his muscle fibers from his brain that the weight they are lifting at the moment is almost too much for his body to handle.  The key word here is almost, not overwhelming.  If you can’t do at least four reps of an exercise for five sets, the weight lifted is too heavy.  But if you can just barely knock out five reps, then you are signalling to your brain that your body needs to be rebuilt with stronger and bigger muscle filaments for the next lifting session, so that you can handle the weight with less strenuous effort.

The last crucial component of building a big, massive body is a diet high in calories and lean meats, and I’ll go more in depth on that in another article that will be posted this week. For now, I invite you to contemplate changing up your lifting regiment to include heavy sets with compound exercises.

You’ll go from “pud” to “stud” in no time at all.

Yours in Virtues and Victory,

Jason