In order to accrue as much success as one can possibly attain within the sport of bodybuilding, you have to be fully conscious of what you are doing within your efforts and that can mean: lift weights smarter. What is meant by that is the finite details that exist within everything you do must be given the appropriate amount of attention and focus so that you can maximize your performance and subsequent progress. Lifting weights for the purposes of improving your muscular stature isn’t as easy as you think. It certainly isn’t just a matter of moving X amount of weight from point A to point B because if it were, there would be tons of monsters lurking about everywhere; but that’s just not the case.
There is a subtleness to what bodybuilders do that separates us from weight lifters. For us, the weights are our tools and to craft our physiques we need to understand how to use those subtleties for superior training. So to distinguish yourself as a bodybuilder while out on the gym floor and training, here is what you can do to improve your approach.
Work the Angles
When you are bodybuilding and lifting weights for the purposes of muscular gain, the goal is not to be efficient within your movements from an “easy to perform” standpoint. Rather, your aim should be to make everything you do harder and lift weights smarter. All of your movements should tax the target muscle as effectively as possible and in many instances, changing up the angle of the exercise is all you need to do. When you change your angle all you are doing is changing the force for which gravity is pulling down on you and the weight you’re lifting. Increase the angle and the exercise tends to get harder. Decrease the angle and the exercise could get harder as well. It all depends upon what movement you are using but generally speaking, when using free weights, this is something you should aim to accomplish with each training session you complete.
Whether you change your body position or the apparatus you’re working off or both, move things around from time to time. Even when using machines that are preset in their construction, you can still manipulate angles by how you position yourself in the machine. The idea here is to find your most disadvantaged position, angle-wise, and then work on getting stronger there.
Very closely related to the angulations you should be using in your training to lift weights smarter are the fulcrum points you decide to work from as well. The fulcrum point is basically the centre of your movement. For example, when doing a single arm dumbbell preacher curl, your fulcrum point is where you are resting your elbow on the pad. Whether you keep your elbow up high or drop it low or turn it in or out, all makes a difference on how the muscle receives tension. If you always use the same fixed fulcrum points for all your lifts, eventually your body will adapt and fail to respond the way you want it to. So take a look at where you rest the levers of your extremities while performing certain movements to see if you can change anything about their placement. It might mean you also need to change your grip, your stance, your height or your overall base to find a strong and safe position.
You also want to find out where your weak points are as well to improve upon those. And again, this could be very subtle in nature and may not take much new positioning at all to make a huge difference in how the muscle feels in response.
Biomechanics and Body Alignment
Finally and most importantly is the fact that you have to take the time to learn and understand how your body moves and which structural alignments put you in the most advantageous positions possible. You’re going to want to work on improving your strength and power because new muscle is a by-product of the increase in both of those components so figuring out how your body moves is ultra important. Take the pec deck for example; unless I am standing up and leaning back against the pad when performing this exercise, I get nothing in my pecs and everything in the front delts. How did I figure this out? By paying attention to shoulder movement/flexibility and what I felt in different body alignment positions when locked into position the way the manufacturer had it set up.
The same goes for certain back machines where very little is felt in the lats because of the inability to adjust all components of the machine to best fit my structure. Luckily, here at Brickhouse Gym, we have the types of machines that allow for custom set ups to occur where you can properly align your structure with the machine and work with it to maximize your biomechanics for maximum muscle growth and lift weights smarter.
The thing to remember when training as a bodybuilder is that the smallest and slightest change to an angle or alignment or lever positioning can make a huge difference on how you stimulate the target muscle. In many cases when people get rid of exercises within their programs and replace them with something new, they didn’t have to at all. The only thing needed was a slight adjustment (lift weights smarter) to how they work with the movement and everything they want to happen would have occurred. It does take a good and knowledgeable eye to see these subtleties when helping others so don’t be afraid to ask any of the staff here at Brickhouse Gym to show you just how effective and superior the smallest of changes to what you’re doing can be.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member