If you really want your body to change, listen closely. This is the secret that everyone is looking for. So many people get this wrong and it shows. Lack of muscle tone, extra fluff, damaged joints, and a destroyed motivation. All of this could be avoided if you can grasp the idea of the power of our language. Lifting versus throwing. You get this right and you’ll be good to go!
Now for a little fun. While you are reading this begin doing curls with your right arm. Keep going! Now, focus intently on the muscle. Make it squeeze very hard at the top every rep. Go down slowly and feel you bicep stretch, but don’t lose tension at the bottom. Reverse the action for yet another strong contraction. Yeah I know that rhymed nicely there. I’m good.
Do 12 reps in this manner.
Notice how without any added weight involved you can feel your muscle working? “Oh, it’s a deep burn!!” - Ron Burgundy
Welcome to weight lifting!!
This little drill just taught you maybe the most important lesson of the weight room… The Muscle-Mind Connection. All of the physique greats mention this phenomenon, yet the masses ignore it and it shows. This is the secret of weight lifting. When I say weight lifting I mean resistance training and not weightlifting (clean & jerk, snatch) which ironically is weight throwing if you really think about it. ;-)
Weight lifting is the golden ticket, not to Wonka’s factory, but to a superb physique. The kind that everyone wants. Healthy muscle tone and minimal body fat. The beach bod. Remember, the key is weight lifting! Now that you know what weight lifting actually is, you can start changing quite rapidly I might add.
The problem is simply our hardwired lizard brain: the ego. We get into the gym and feel that we must impress everybody, for some odd reason. Truth be told I’ve been in a gym most of my life and I can tell you most people could care less about what you are doing. They are too concerned about what you think about what they are doing! Isn’t this a crazy world.
The trouble with weight throwing is that introduces a high level of momentum. As you begin tossing the weight up and down it effectively gets much lighter. The faster the lighter. If you don’t believe me grab a 30 pound dumbbell and do a curl with a tempo of 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down. Holy smokes! That was tough. Now do 8 reps.
The biggest problem with introducing lots of momentum is that the muscle is not stimulated because the weight is actually flying through the air. With enough momentum the weight becomes weight-less and your muscles get no stimulation. Bye bye biceps!
Last but not least, weight throwing will wreck havoc on your joints, tendons, and ligaments. This is because something has to start and stop this “throwing” of weights. It is comparable to driving your car by only slamming on the gas and slamming on the brakes. This would destroy your car in a relatively short time. Once momentum is introduced something must stop it. Yeah that would be your joints.
This inevitably leads to disaster and turns beautiful weight lifting into ugly weight throwing. Let’s learn how weight throwing feels by doing another fun drill. Make sure you don’t use any weight on this drill!!!
Remember the 12 weight lifting reps of curls we did earlier. Slow, controlled with max tension. Lots of focus. You can feel the blood pump and your bicep burn. I call it productive exercise. Now let’s totally derail and enter the world of weight throwing.
You will do the exact same drill as before, however, instead of focusing on tension and control I want you to now focus on going as fast as possible. Faster, faster!!!
Do it now! 12 arm curls as fast as you can!!! What happened? I know when I went it sounded like rice crispies' snap, crackle, pop from my elbow. What about you?
The bicep muscle also felt very different. Almost like a rubber band. Like the movement was bouncing off ligaments and tendons. That can’t be good.
This is exactly what happens when you begin performing weight throwing exercises. Less muscle activation and more stress on your joints. OUCH!! Unless you enjoy frequent visits to your friendly local orthopedic you might want to take close note to this warning. Stick to weight lifting for the majority of your training… and for the long haul.
You can do a little weight throwing here and there sparingly. Power cleans are hard to beat for your low volume weight throwing endeavor. It’s a full body power move that can help you increase your rate of force production.
If you want to look and feel incredible stick to weight lifting (e.g. the opposite of throwing) for the vast majority of your training. You will be amazed when you start really focusing on building tension every rep, you don’t have to use gobs of weight!
Sure it’s good to “go heavy” here and there, but the bread and butter of your training should be focused on maximizing your muscle mind connection and performing every rep perfectly with a smart tempo.
I have to brag on my wife Nancy. She’s incredibly strong and lifts heavy, yet her form is always impeccable. She does not rush through her workouts. One word comes to mind: deliberate. She is a master of weight lifting. As you can see her results speak for themselves.
Beau Bradbury CSCS, CPT
Trainer at Weatherford Strength & Conditioning
Co-creator of M15 and E20 supplements
Author of Bradbury Muscle Course and Golf Strength Training