When most guys ask how to get big, the usual response is eat big and lift heavy. This is the best simple advice one could give, but what does it mean to go heavy? Does it mean to lift heavy weights? Or does it mean grunting and heaving weights for a couple reps? In this article I'm going to talk about going heavy; what it means, the right ways, the wrong ways, and most importantly, rag on some of the people I see at the gym.
If you want to get bigger, stronger, or both you know you need to lift hard. You probably know that by now you can't just go to the gym, curl 3 sets of 10 with 15lbs and expect to grow. It just doesn't work like that. Then again, you can't go right up to the 60lb dumbbells and curl them 4 times. Yeah, you're lower back might grow, if you don't throw it out. Quite often I loose concentration in they gym and start laughing. I'll see this 150lb guy trying to do preacher curls with weights that are just to heavy for him to handle. It looks like's he's bending someone over rather than working his biceps (which he's not). Please, don't be this guy.
So what does it really mean to go heavy? Well, obviously you got to use heavy weights. Does this mean slinging weights around trying to impress some one? Hell no. You're not in the gym to impress, no one (of importance) cares about how much weight you have on the stack, and girls certainly don't. You're in there to lift hard. When I think of heavy, I think of a rep range. 4 - 10 reps are heavy. Anything above that and you're out there to tone and burn fat. Below that you're getting no work, your set ends too soon, and its hard to concentrate on form. The thing that is most important to heavy lifting is intensity. Sure, I can curl 45lb dumbbells six times, but then again, I can also push out 3 reps after that. Perfect form and determination dictate intensity. So you got 6 reps, big deal. Too often I see guys hitting that 6th or 8th rep and then stopping. What exactly is that dong for muscle growth? Nothing, maybe warming your biceps up for another set of 6. The idea is to go to absolute failure. This is heavy lifting. You need to lift until you can't get any more reps, than go for another. If you can't get it, keep trying. Push for at least 15 seconds. When I know that there is no possible way I am getting another rep, I'll hold the weight where it is until it slowly starts to come down. Then I'll try and bring it down as slow as possible. This is heavy lifting. This is why you only need one set per exercise.
I also see guys using terrible form. Not only does this set you up for injury, but it also makes you look like a fool, hence the guy humping air trying to do curls. Sloppy form gets you no where. You should never break form. You'll see much faster results, and you'll go up in weights much faster if you keep your form perfect on every rep, even the last one. If you know for sure that you can't get that last rep, then hold the negative for as long as you can. You're only cheating yourself by breaking form to get that last rep. One of the most common exercises people do these in is rows. They'll sling the weight back, then lean back, then keep slinging the weight back until they've finished the rep. It's a good comic relief for everyone else in the gym, but its doing nothing for you.
Ok, quick recap now. The key to lifting heavy is not throwing around heavy weights. It's low reps and intensity. Keep in mind intensity is a combination of unparalleled determination and proper form. You need to crave that last rep and the pain and pump that comes with it. Nothing great was ever easily achieved. You need to want it. Now enough reading, go lift heavy.
A quick shout out to that guy getting his swerve on trying to do dumbbell curls today in the gym. Anybody can go to the gym; it takes more than that to sculpt the perfect physique.