Archive for the tag - form

Is Form Or Weight More Important?

Hey Davey,

I want bigger muscles and know that I need to lift heavier and heavier weights, but I have a question. What’s more important? Lifting lighter weights with perfect form or heavier weights with decent form?


deadliftHey Ben,

I know exactly what you’re asking - and you’re definitely going to hate my answer. Consider yourself warned.

First things first, you are absolutely right. In order to increase the size of your muscles, you need to progressively increase the amount of resistance that you’re working against. This signals to your body that it needs more muscle to get the job done. But it’s also important to do this in a way that’s both safe and effective.

In other words, it’s true that lifting light weights won’t make you bigger or stronger. But improper form can get you injured. Being injured will keep you home from the gym and prevent you from getting the results you want.

As such, the answer isn’t one or the other. It’s both. If you want to increase your size and strength, you’ll need to perfect your form and then lift heavier and heavier weights.

To focus on better form, I recommend taking a few steps:

  1. Check your ego at the door. The amount of resistance that you’re working with isn’t a measure of your manhood. Let go of the idea that you need to be lifting as much as (or more than) the people around you; compete with no one but yourself.
  2. Slow down and focus. Pay attention to each repetition. Don’t rush through it. And, most importantly, don’t use the momentum of your exercise to cheat on each repetition.
  3. Lighten your load. Lower the amount of resistance that you’re using until you’re able to complete a full set of slow, proper repetitions. It’s probably less than what you’re used to, but you’ll be able to build up from here over time.

I hope that helps.


P.S. If you’re serious about adding lean muscle, I recommend downloading my program, Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle. It’s a step by step guide to building the size you’ve always wanted!


Good Form Versus More Weight?

Dear Davey,

As part of my leg routine, I perform squats. I know that in a traditional squat, I should squat down until my thighs are parallel to the floor. However, I can squat a lot more weight if I stop short of parallel. Is it more important to follow proper form with less resistance or to cheat a bit and use more resistance?


barbell-squat-weight-loss-muscle-31032011Hey Chris,

This is really an age-old question and one that a lot of people have.

I always stick with better form over more resistance for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, if you have good form, you’ll soon be able to add more resistance - and eventually you’ll reach (and surpass) the amount of weight with which you cheated. And you’ll do it all with good form which means better results.

Second, improper form can increase injury risk. Though stopping your squats short of parallel isn’t particularly dangerous, cheating on other exercises - like barbell bicep curls, for example - can be very dangerous. Too many exercisers throw out their backs or dislocate a shoulders due to improper form.

However, there was recently a study in The Journal of Strength Training & Conditioning on the very question you just asked. For the study, researchers recruited healthy but untrained participants and divided them into two groups. In one group, the exercisers stopped their squats at a 50 degree knee angle. In simpler terms, this group cheated. For the other group, exercisers performed full squats until they reached a knee angle of 90 degrees.

After evaluating the data, researchers did see muscle gains in both groups - but the largest differences were in strength. For the cheating group, strength gains were limited to a small range of motion. Moreover, for calculations of external torque, researchers found a 7% increase for participants in the 90 degree group versus external torque in the 50 degree group.

Based on the findings, researchers recommend proper form - even if it means less weight. And it’s a recommendation that I’m happy to endorse.