Are You Overthinking Your Workout?
When it comes to building size and strength, the importance of dedication and attention to detail is undeniable. But some people take it too far. There's no need to have an aneurysm trying the get all the details right. Sure, certain things do matter, like showing up consistently and lifting weights. But some things matter less than you think, like these.
1 – Always Use Perfect Form!
Perfect form is a myth. From limb length ratios to bodyweight to joint structure and innate mobility, every lifter has a unique build. Moreover, no one is perfectly symmetrical. So why try to match your body to some arbitrary ideal?
Granted, there are some rules that should rarely, if ever, be broken, like rounding out on a deadlift or squat, or arching excessively on an overhead press. After all, these positions are known mechanisms of injury.
But if you feel more comfortable setting up with your feet wider than shoulder width in a squat, then have at it, as long as your knees don't cave in. If it's more natural for you to have one foot slightly in front of the other and toed out when you swing a kettlebell, go to town. Just make sure you're still distributing your weight evenly from front to back and side to side.
With so much person-to-person variation, there simply can't be such a thing as one perfect form, only perfect form for you as an individual, and a range of acceptable techniques across all lifters. So – within reason – do what feels right, textbook form be damned.
2 – The Type of Equipment You Use Matters
Suppose your program calls for a cable triceps extension, but you're at a gym that doesn't have a cable system. Don't panic. For most exercises, you can find a suitable replacement.
In lieu of the triceps extension, switch to a band, which will provide an almost identical stimulus. If the gym doesn't have bands either, do a bodyweight triceps extension with a suspension trainer or bar in a power rack.
Cables and bands aren't the only interchangeable implements. Don't have kettlebells? Use dumbbells. The power racks are all taken? Use the Smith machine or jam a spare bar into the corner of a room to make a landmine unit. No available benches? Floor press instead.
The point is, while there are certainly differences from one piece of equipment to the next, they're generally less substantial than people think. Unless you're a competitive powerlifter who's a few weeks out from competition, equipment substitutions aren't going to make or break your gains.
3 – Exercise Order is Vitally Important
Giant sets and circuit training can be a challenge in a crowded gym, even if you're being considerate about not monopolizing several pieces of equipment. Nonetheless, they are possible, as long as you're willing to be flexible with exercise order.
Imagine you carefully plan to alternate between lower body, upper body, and core exercises (e.g., box jumps, pull-ups, goblet squats, and front planks). It won't ruin your workout if your next round is done out of order because a piece of equipment is in use.
Order does sometimes matter, especially with exercises that are inherently complex or high-risk. Don't be an idiot and try to max out on a box jump after a heavy set of squats. (Actually, there's never a good reason to max out on a box jump, but that's a different story.) And if you have to plank after pull-ups because your goblet-squat dumbbell got scooped, don't sweat it.
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